Thursday, July 14, 2011

Maestro Ricardo Muti in Town!

On the second weekend of July, 2011 Nairobi was treated to a rare treat of classical music when Chicago Orchestra conductor Ricardo Muti came to town for a concert and conducted Orchestra Cherubini in Uhuru Park.

New Grounds
This concert was a first of its kind in many aspects. It was the first time that Ravenna Festival's Roads of Friendship initiative was in sub-Sahara Africa having previously performed for a northern African country.
It was also a first time an orchestra which boost of over 400 pieces performed in Kenya if not in the region.

The other aspect that got me thinking during the concert was the location. Yes Uhuru park is either associated with political event (Ocampo 3 home coming party comes to mind!), Preachers who know to effectively how to use public space (who at times can be a pain in the neck with their end time gospel while asking for a quid) and lovers! Since I am based at Kilimo I am forced to pass by the hollowed grounds BUT I try to go round them less cupid whom I think might reside there may set a glimpse on me!

That said the concert showcased that indeed the grounds can be salvaged from this tag lines.

Breaking Traditions
This concert also broke other traditions which might NOT be seemingly be clear to the eye. In Kenya cultural activities are mostly a prerequisite of the French BUT the Italian staged a cultural coup at Uhuru Park!

This Festival, according to what I have read was set up by an array of many players starting with the Vice Presidents office (who graced the festival despite there being independence celebrations in Southern Sudan. Considering he was one of the mediators. This must have meant a lot to him), the Italian Embassy in Kenya, The Nuncio’s (Pope’s Representative in the country) office, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (The Minister was conspicuously absent from this festival. The office ought to have someone younger-My opinion) and the Nairobi City Council (Finally our City fathers gather some mad love from me).

The Maestro also in his closing act incorporated our Kenyan singers as they belched out the last performance. This was the climax of the festival for me.

A Maestro’s Dream and Aspirations
In some of the introductions of the day the MC did throw quite some comparisons before the main act. One of this was the late Pavarotti. He compared and contrasted the two Italian misical figures and one thing that clearly presented itself during the performance is that Maestro Muti is soft spoken.

However, when he did speak he pointed out his vision of seeing a united and peaceful world. In fact this concert was dedicated to dwellers of the Nairobi slums.

Ravenna Festival's Roads of Friendship
This concert is part of Ravenna Festival which has an initiative Roads of Friendship, born in Sarajevo in 1997. 14 concerts in different cities of the world have been conducted to date with an eye for celebrating peace and invoking human solidarity through music.  

The 2011 Roads of Friendship Ravenna Festival was dedicated to funding educational scholarships for young people in Nairobi informal settlements (which have had success stories of transforming lives through Amani Onlus).

These scholarships are to be given to Italian missions operating in Kenya.  The concert also gave tribute to Italian missionaries who work in Kenya.

Here is a link to photo’s of the event from Quaint Photographers on Facebook.

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