Pathways - Interview with Blasio Kavuma

Blasio Kavuma is a London-based composer, curator and arranger, and a participant on our current Pathways programme. Here he talks to us about working with African traditions, the symbitioc relationship of music and dance, and having his works performed in Japan. Also check out the written Q&A printed below.


What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just finished working with Manchester trio Salford Keys, on a performance of my work at Union Chapel’s brilliant Daylight Music concert series. Apart from that I’m working tirelessly (ahem) on the final stage of the Pathways programme, and looking to get a few festival slots for a collaboration I did with artist Gina Southgate I did last year.

You’re planning an event for later this year at London’s Hackney Showroom. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

I’ve been told by some completely impartial friends that my music would work well with dance, and as I’d been working more and more as a collaborator with other mediums, I thought hey, why not? I managed to track down a fantastic street/contemporary choreographer Si Rawlinson, who runs Wayward Thread, who I’ll be developing the piece with from scratch.

As for the ideas, I’d always had a sense that music and dance together connected to something beyond the immediately physical. I want to explore this in a couple of ways; through the devotional and the communal aspects of dance and music, but principally through the African tradition, which for me will involve exploring black gospel music and African rhythmic devices. Apart from that, me and Si will have to figure the rest out and see where it takes us.    

You’ve worked quite a lot between art forms, collaborating with visual artists for example. What have been the most fruitful examples of that for you, and why?

One of the first collaborations I did was with a mime artist in Bristol. I worked very closely with them, and I learned a huge amount about the challenges of collaboration, but also just how rewarding it can be, and how many new creative possibilities it opens up. That was perhaps the project that has set me up for the creative path that I’m on, and taught me how important it is to start the collaborative process as early as possible, and to keep communication frequent and clear.

Your work has recently started to get out to an international audience – how has that come about, and do you have the impression that new music works differently abroad?

I was living in Japan when my trio for flute, clarinet and piano was premiered, so that took a bit of networking, seems to be an exclusively academic discipline over there. Since then one opportunity has landed on my doorstep from the States; I was contacted by the Voice(ed) project in Chicago, commissioning black composers to address issues facing their communities. I’ve found, at least with the US, that funding seems based on securing support directly from patrons, so there’s more freedom for curators to define their own projects. It’s shown me how big an influence funding structures have on a country’s arts scene.

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