Gonamombe Mbira Centre is based in Harare, Zimbabwe. Their main activities are mbira production, mbira education and performance. They also have an mbira research and development program dedicated to improving production techniques as wel and exploring new ways of making professional mbiras. The Mbira Centre has the ability to make any kind of mbira and probably make the most diverse range of mbiras in the world. Their latest product is the “Mbira Chromatica”, a chromatic mbira for solo and ensemble performances.
Mbira Chromatica can be made as baritone, tenor, alto or soprano instruments. Collectively, a set of these mbiras can cover a five-octave range. Their advantage over the traditional mbira is that they can play Shona traditional mbira repertoire as well as anything that can be played off a western music score. This means that anyone who has had western music training can easily learn to play an Mbira Chromatica.
In May, 2012, the Mbira Chromatica was used for a historic presentation at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. For the first time ever, an mbira orchestra performed the national anthem of Zimbabwe. In the past, the Centre developed mbiras designed to play Javanese gamelan music. These, “mbiragamelans”, were tested before audiences and musicians in Java, Indonesia and Harare during international festival performances. In the mid nineties the centre developed what are now popularly known as “orchestral mbiras” by expanding the octave range of traditional mbiras from three to five.
A Gonamombe mbira and resonator form part of The National Gallery of Zimbabwe’s permanent collection. Other institutions with Gonamombe mbiras include Wellesley College in Boston, Massachusetts, the Indonesian Institute of the Arts (ISI) in Surakarta, Java, the Green School in Bali, Indonesia and the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC. The mbira and its repertoire have existed in Zimbabwe for more than seven centuries.
Gonamombe Mbira Centre
The Culture Fund envisions a thriving Zimbabwe that is confident in its innovation and creativity that is nurtured through a culture of open dialogue and creation of knowledge accessible to all its citizens. The Culture Fund with programme support funds from the Swedish International Development Agency(Sida) plays a leading role in gearing the country towards becoming a creative society benefiting from a creative economy. It supports the cultural sphere through results-based programming.