The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Sunday Leisure Correspondent
WHILE his main strength in the performing arts has been drumming, Bruce Ncube has set his sights on spreading various aspects of Zimbabwe’s art in the United Kingdom.
Ncube recently returned from a six-month workshop that saw him crisscross the UK holding lessons in drumming, music and dance.
The artiste, who is popularly known as Bruno Ashley, arrived back in the country early this month after his third stint in UK.
His tour saw him teach communities, schools and arts groups drumming and traditional Zimbabwean songs in Kalanga, Ndebele and Shona.
Bruno Ashley who is also a percussionist said he taught in more than 15 schools Shetland, in a tour organised by his close friend, Joy Duncan.
“In Scotland I taught choirs and community singing and drumming groups with the help of volunteers and friends putting up workshops together for me which I called SING OUT LOUD.
“My workshops are taught in the traditional Zimbabwean way where we read no music or carry no papers to read the words, in a way building people’s confidence through singing. I encourage people to learn music through listening and harmonising in a group therefore bringing team work.
“In England I taught in a festival called Drum Camp, a festival that brings over 500 people to learn and experience music from different parts of the world. I also for the first time went to More Music a centre for the arts in Lancashire and taught a full day’s workshop of the SING OUT LOUD which was a success,” he said.
The founder of Mema Arts, a Bulawayo-based arts project, Bruno Ashley said the tour and workshops provided him with an opportunity to share Zimbabwe’s culture with the wider world adding there was huge interest in African art in the UK.
“The school children get to experience a different culture through games, music, dance and storytelling and I am also making links and partnerships between schools in Zimbabwe and the UK,” he said.
Ncube cut his teeth in the arts industry at Umkhathi Theatre and still works with the Njube-based outfit in both workshops and performances.
He first embarked on a solo UK tour in 2013 and last year also visited Britain.
He has also been involved in festivals that include the Aberdeen International Youth Festival in Scotland, Womad Festival, African Drum Village in Scotland, Drum Camp in England, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Jawz Festival in Shetland, Festival of Spirituality, Hifa, Maitisong Festival in Botswana, Ibumba Festival and Isiphiwo Sami.
Ncube has collaborated with a number of musicians that include Ramadu who is based in Austria, Noma Nkwali, featured in Nobuntu’s video ‘‘Narini’’ as part of Umkhathi and also performed with Jeys Marabini.
Bruno Ashley regularly performs with a local band, Roots.