Zinda wonderfully plays to an empty house

06:36 by Kaggwa Andrew
Classical music isn’t and has never been one of the mainstream genres in the Ugandan industry.
Thus, when young visionary Emmanuel Zinda came up with an idea of holding a concert of such music, we couldn’t help but sigh in disbelief.
He had an intriguing list that featured songs by great composers like Carl Gustav Boberg, George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows but still, that was still too much for a Ugandan audience that can barely tell between a good and bad song.
At 7:20pm, National theatre auditorium still virtually empty - Looking lean in a red and white checked shirt, black jacket, slacks and shoes, Emmanuel Zinda looks casual yet stylish for his first ever concert. He kicks off with an original composition that was rather difficult for some of us attending Classical music concerts for the first time, it got a bit too artistry in some places but was still soothing to the ears.
That was followed by How great thou art, probably one of the most popular hymn songs ever. First composed in Swedish by Boberg in 1859, it was translated to English by a British missionary Stuart K. Hine, though still maintains the Swedish folk feel to it. The song has since been covered by Yolanda Adams, Carrie Underwood and Cece Winans among others, so here was Zinda giving it his own touch with a violin, of course with the help of a wonderful band and vocalists.
It felt like the young man had carried the church to the auditorium.
Then he took us through more inspirational songs like Secret Garden’s original, You raise me up, Maywood’s 1980 hit Mother how are you today but it was  the largely vocal song Malaika, that carried the day, its believed to be the most famous Swahilli song and Zinda might have known the weight of performing it.
The violinist was drawn to the stage experimenting with other instrumentalists to make it outstanding, with atmospheric sounds and electroacoustic techniques, the 15-minute score which derives its name from angels begins with subdued string violin solo that seems to invite the guitarist.
When the lead vocalists join in, the mood becomes arousing and pensive, this performance was meant with ululations from the crowd and a demand for its encore later.
On his original compositions like Osanidde, it was good seeing Zinda give the genre an African touch with that xylophone sound and drums.
Considering the fact that many prefer looking at concerts in form of crowds that artistry, Zinda’s inauguration was a huge failure, probably the biggest flop we may see this year, on the record, less than 25 people turned up and for some reason were scattered all over the auditorium thus making it look empty.
It was in fact surprising seeing Zinda pull off an energetic performance in front of mainly empty seats.


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