AFTER THE PERFORMANCE
BEFORE THE PERFORMANCE
OPERA Z TACKLES GRUESOME KONGAMATO LEGEND - Press release, Feb 13, 2015
Fifty-strong cast showcases local talent
LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Dinosaurs may still be living in Zambia’s North-Western Province, according to an legend that will be played out in a new musical show currently being put together in Lusaka.
Rehearsals are on-going for the Opera Z collective’s first performance of the opera, which explores the legend of the Kongamato – breaker of boats – a pterodactyl-like creature said to have been seen by the people of and explorers in the Mwinilunga district's Jiundu swamps and first documented in 1923.
The mysterious creature has variously been described as a modern-day Jurassic era dinosaur; an enormous bird – perhaps a saddle-billed stork; or a giant bat. There are no photographs, nor have any bodies been found, leaving the stories to rely on eyewitness accounts.
Preparations are underway of the second opera to be staged by the Opera Z classical music theatre company, with casting and rehearsals already started for the world premiere of a new contemporary opera, which dramatises the legend of the Kongamato.
More than 50 classically trained Zambian musicians, singers and dancers will perform in the opera at the Lusaka Playhouse from April 9-11, 2015.
The OperaZ Orchestra, chorus and dancers dancers will showcase some of the country’s best talent in The Legend of Konga Mato. The Opera, a story of love, war and intrigue that tells the tale of a village fisher boy who saves his chiefdom from the marauding Kongamato and wins the heart of their King’s daughter.
Performers will be led by conductor Daniel Siisii, and the opera stars soloists including Paddy Mukando, Nalu Lubose, Jerry Mudenda, Maimbolwa Akabana, Chrispin Lindunda, Stanley Musowe and Daniel Mwalwembe.
Music direction is by Baldwin Nasilele; choreography by Nadezda Chibanda; stage manager is Daniel Mwalwembe.
A costume and stage designer is still being sought.
The opera is composed and written by long-term Zambia resident Dr Peter Langmead, who has spent much of his working life travelling throughout Zambia for his work, drawing inspiration for the composition from his experiences and observation.
“The Legend of Konga Mato is an exciting, fast-paced and spectacular story, perfect for the subject of an opera.” said Dr Langmead. “It is also an opportunity for people to see the remarkable – and often hidden – talent that we have in Zambia.”
Dr Langmead’s vision is to restore opera’s reputation as an entertainment event for ordinary people, rather than an elitist art form. He aims to encourage and stage new compositions by new composers, and break the mould, rather than dwell on the traditional Western classical work.
Instead he hopes to impart his enthusiasm and passion for contemporary classical music to a new generation of young performers and artists who are keen to break down the barriers between old and new, traditional and modern, and classical and contemporary music.
The opera will be staged at the Lusaka Playhouse at 19hrs on Thursday, April 9, Friday, April 10 and Saturday, April 11. Tickets are K200 and can be reserved by calling 0976 750044 or emailing OperaZ@langmead.com --Ends--
OperaZ is a collective of talented classically trained Zambian singers and musicians, along with some of the country’s leading contemporary dancers.
The aim is to showcase new contemporary compositions through performances throughout Zambia and internationally.
The group also aims to nurture emerging classical music talent, inspire new musicians to reach their potential and provide a platform to bring work to a wider audience.
For more information visit www.operaz.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/OperaZed Twitter: @Opera4Z
Pic 1: Some members of OperaZ cast of The Legend of Konga Mato. The Opera. From left, solist Jerry Mudenda, conductor Daniel Siisii, singer Evelyn Chisenga, soloist Maimbolwa Akabana, music director Baldwin Nasilele, trombonist Patrick mwanza and percussionist Shimiti Milupi.
ZNBC Morning Live 28/11/14 - My Books
Interview by ZNBC's Judy Ngulube with me about my photography books on Morning LIve. My books at this time included Postcards from Zambia, The Zambians and zedscape. See YouTube.
ZNBC Kwacha Good Morning 05/04/14 - Damyna
An interview with myself and others about Damyna Damyna the opera during rehearsals at the Lusaka Playhouse. See YouTube.
Postcards from Zambia: a Social Documentary
There are two interesting histories about postcards, the first was created by the French Government, to use postcards, a fad of the day, to encourage colonialisation in Algeria through tourism and business development, where colonialisation loosely means state-encouraged settlement in a colony. A second history was Alfredo Jarr sending postcards about Rwanda, from 1994, for example 'Emmanuel Rucogoza is still alive', during the Rwanda genocide; the exhibition was later known as Signs of Life.
Zambia fortunately never faced this later kind of terror, and slavery was banned by the British government 90 or so years before Zambia was occupied by the British South Africa Company by agreement with European powers in 1889. Bembas and some Europeans continued to practice the slave trade until the mid-1870s, and the ivory trade until much later. Zambia became a 'protectorate' in 1924 and independent in 1964.
In documentary photography’s modern form, a common criticism is that it ‘constructs a victim for its always privileged audience in terms of class, ethnicity, gender or other social category, […] and the dignity of the subject […] is not guaranteed by any particular viewer'. This negative postmodern reality has misplaced aid and development for many years and now there is a need for a new photographic response. It needs to be recognised that even the great documentarians have been paid to document misery by those needing to preserve their jobs as the Lords of Poverty. Wiser people describe this as bias. The concept that Africa is dying of disease, starvation and wars is a myth generated by the West's misguided and misinformed simulacrum that is obviously nonsense.
In this book, the motivation is to disrupt this cliché and show the subject not as a victim but as a dignified participant in his or her own increasingly successful economy and environment. Documentary photography needs to recognise that it's role is to document life in all it's vibrancy, from ordinary existence to, yes, wars, but the distribution should be normal. Documenting misery may satisfy the West's need for guilt alleviation but it remains two standard deviations away from mean humanity.These themed representations were taken mostly in remote locations without donors or dignitaries, so I hope they fairly characterise the people I have met and the country I have seen.
There was a book signing at Planet Books between 10am and midday on Saturday, 9 March, which was on a long weekend competing with UN Women's day and World Book day. Since few read, Women's day stole the march. The UN compatible statistic was that I sold to 30 per cent of customers entering the shop... You will notice Danbisa Moyo's Dead Aid is prominent and we added Brenda Muntemba's Off-Duty a bit later.
There was another book signing in One Tree Books, the famously independent bookshop in Petersfield, UK, on 20 April 2013; further, the Petersfield Post came and recorded the event. Here I am with Tim O'Kelly.
And here is another view at Petersfield's One Tree Books, me on the right with, from left, Dee Dee, Clive Marchant, Martin Henslow, and Charlie in front of Kai, in a more colourful version.
The most recent article was by Global Zambian Magazine.
The soft-backed book is available throughout Zambia and from Amazon in the UK. I was interviewed on 7 March 2013 by Radio Phoenix, by Luchi, who is passionate about photography. All the pictures in the book can also be seen at the Gallery. There was a press release on 5 March, 2013, and a review by Andrew Mulenga was in The Post on 16 March.
There is also a continuously updated Facebook page. And here is the private showing that you missed; a public exhibition will be showing shortly.
Steve Walker of the UK said, 'the photos are excellent - quite an insight into daily life in Zambia - well done'; Kirk Longstein of the US said on Facebook, 'WOW Peter, these are great shots! what a great job capturing life of a Zambia; Frank Berrens in the Netherlands said, 'This fantastic collection of pictures, painting a moment in time of contemporary Zambia, is leaving us with the of smell of Africa in our senses!'
And here is a great quote from The Global Zambian Magazine, 'Social documentary photographer, Peter Langmead can only be described as a legend in the photography industry, an overall Renaissance man. Peter’s work takes photography in Zambia to a whole new level as his documentation really captures the lives of his subjects, providing that added inside look into the beauty of Zambian life and it’s people. Known for his book ‘Postcards From Zambia’ which is a reflection of his broad experience, and his observation and exploration of the Zambian culture between 2008 and 2012, and showcasing it in such a positive light. A true inspiration to us all not only in photography but the arts.'