I am honored to share that I have been named a 2022 MacPhail Global Music Initiative Artist-in-Residence.
As it is stated on the MacPhail website, the GMI Artist-in-Residence Program offers 8-month residencies at MacPhail Center for Music to foster cultural change in our communities through passion and creativity in music. Believing that supporting and investing in diverse voices challenges current ideas of music education pedagogy, this program is a commitment to become a deeply anti-racist organization by giving diverse voices a platform to share their creative stories, challenge ideas, and question the nature of existence.
Selected recipients are provided artistic and educational opportunities to promote a culturally thriving tomorrow.
This activity partially made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
Project: Echoes of Africa: An Experience with Iconic and Disappearing African Instruments
This project creates collaboration with top-tier artists to amplify the sounds of disappearing African instruments through the MacPhail Global Music Initiative residency program. Chongo will develop and create a master class series on African improvisation, culminating in an original work of approximately 30-40 minutes performed with the faculty and students of MacPhail. In addition to this series, an EP of original, improvisational creative works featuring Mbira Dzava Dzimu, Mbira Nyunga Nyunga, Xitende, and Timbila of Mozambique. To support the master class series, twice-monthly “jam sessions” will be open to community members for creative practice and musical experimentation with their own instruments or using traditional African instruments. Participants are encouraged to come as they are with an open mind to let go of their musical inhibitions, learn, and improvise from the examples shared.
About the Artist
Nyttu Chongo is a musician and composer from Maputo, Mozambique now living in Fridley, Minnesota. He builds, repairs, and plays traditional Mozambican and Rwandan instruments such as the Chopi Timbila, Xipendane,Xitende, Xizambe, Mbira Dzava Dzira, Mbira Nyunga Nyunga, Dju Dju, Timbila, Bombo, Ligoma, Hudo, Xocalhos, Djembe, Pwangue, Kora, and Inanga. A 2020 Minnesota State Arts Board Initiative grantee, his mission in life is to make the voices of his ancestors heard in these instruments and let their stories speak so that the world does not lose this essential musical and cultural heritage.
Since moving to Minnesota in 2016, Nyttu Chongo has made a local name for himself on both large stages and community settings across the Midwest, opening for the production of Familiar at the Guthrie Theater in 2018, leading workshops at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Spurlock Museum in 2020, and performing at numerous festivals, libraries, and schools. He is currently developing an original work for the 2022 Cedar Commissions (through the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis, MN) called Nkovu Wa Xivavu, which means “A Celebration of Pain.” This piece weds the voices of Central, Southern, and West Africa through the inanga, xitende, and kora. These iconic and disappearing African string instruments from three distinct regions of the continent (Rwanda/Burundi, Mozambique, and Senegal) have never been played together in a single work. By featuring these instruments with deep African soul together at the heart of this improvised and spirit-led piece, Nkovu Wa Xivavu sings of an Africa divided with the opportunity to rediscover itself, illustrated through thin individual strings woven together to become a stronger, united continent.