Musawenkosi Mdluli © Stephan Polzer

Most people know the saying that dreams are often like soap bubbles and can easily burst. The music video A bubble is a nice friend to have, released in 2022, is about precisely such soap bubbles and how it’s extremely important to have dreams and also live them—even while being conscious of their fragility. In this video, the metaphorical “Bubble” sets out on its travels at the Morris Isaacson Centre for Music in Soweto, South Africa—the very same place on the outskirts of Johannesburg in which Nelson Mandela’s idea was born. Energetic drum rhythms accompany the Bubble’s journey to Vienna, where it’s received in fitting fashion by the mdw Percussion Ensemble. They’re then joined by the mdw Drumline—an ensemble of the type one would typically associate with support for the morale and fighting spirit of teams in the world of ball sports. In this case, however, it’s the Bubble that the Drumline is spurring on—for without fighting spirit and the necessary effort, no idea would bear fruit.

Ingrid Hedlund, Robert Brooks © Stephan Polzer

Following a brief recollection of its roots, the Bubble goes through a metamorphosis in the form of a rhythmic modulation and is then festively carried by virtuosic improvisations in a new, fresh tempo to its ultimate destination, where it is received and euphorically celebrated by all of the ensembles.

This production’s artistic director David Christopher Panzl has been working together with the South African organisation “Music Is a Great Investment” (or MIAGI, for short) for several years now. MIAGI, founded by Ingrid Hedlund and Robert Brooks, is devoted to the mission of bringing together musicians from all of South Africa’s social groups to form ensembles that are equally at home in jazz, classical music, and traditional African music.

Brandon Ruiters © Stephan Polzer

MIAGI encourages creative collaboration and innovation across ethnic and social boundaries, supports young and promising artists, and strives to embody the ideals of Nelson Mandela. Numerous high-calibre international tours bear impressive witness to the quality of its ensembles. Furthermore, MIAGI runs music schools such as the aforementioned Morris Isaacson Centre for Music so as to also offer children living in disadvantaged regions of South Africa the opportunity to receive solid musical training.

Doris Schmidauer © Stephan Polzer

This collaboration between MIAGI and Panzl has now come together in a music video made with an intent to emphasise the intercultural and transdisciplinary aspect as well as the potential of international cooperation. As work on the project progressed, the mdw was brought on board as a valuable partner that paved the way for its production. An original composition by the South African jazz musician and composer Tshepo Tsotetsi, which Panzl arranged, orchestrated, and augmented by additional sections, served as the musical foundation. The video footage was recorded over several sessions in Johannesburg and in Vienna. The great logistical effort that this entailed was due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented the musicians from travelling to perform together as had been planned. The individual recording sessions therefore had to be conducted and synchronised precisely to a click track so that they could be combined to form a unified whole later on in the production process.

Pretty Yende, Hyung Ki-Joo © Stephan Polzer

The mdw’s fantastic AV team also made a major contribution to overcoming all of the technical hurdles that this project entailed—and the final result is a music video that’s well worth watching, a production that succeeds in conveying not only energetic music but also the atmospheres of the various filming locations.

This video celebrated its official release on 31 May at a gala concert at the mdw’s Joseph Haydn-Saal under the patronage of Doris Schmidauer that took place to mark MIAGI’s 21st anniversary. This evening’s artistic contributions were provided by the celebrated opera singer Pretty Yende accompanied by Hyung-Ki Joo and the MIAGI Jazz Orchestra together with the mdw Percussion Ensemble.

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