“Laurinda Hofmeyr is a master of the art of setting music to poetry. During her career spanning more than two decades she has worked almost exclusively with acclaimed South African poets. In pursuing her unique art form she has given new life to the work of, among others, Breyten Breytenbach, Antjie Krog, Sheila Cussons, Uys Krige and NP van Wyk Louw.
She has an uncanny ability to hear the music, feel the rhythms, and see the visions hidden in the poets’ works.
In late 2016, after the release of her fourth album, we spoke about the subliminal theme of ‘longing for Africa’ that often underpins the poems she chooses to set music to. During the ’60s, and ’70s many South African writers ended up in exile, in some cases self-imposed.
When the implicit is made explicit, the door to exploration opens.
This album is a jewel in the crown of Laurinda’s work. She masterfully brings to life the pain, longing, internal conflicts, rich visions, cries and whispers of some of the most revered francophone and Afrikaans poets, carefully woven around the theme of Afrique mon désir/Afrika my verlange.
Each composition is subtly underscored by the indelible accordion sounds left by the late Régis Gizavo. Each track is superbly arranged by the genial Schalk Joubert. Each song is beautifully sung – with Afrikaans, French and Lingala finding their place in the universe of longing for Africa.”
The project is presented and supported by the Cape Town Music Academy (CTMA).
Nico McLachlan (Cape Town Music Academy)
Afrique mon désir
For me, the Afrikaans title, “Afrika, my verlange”, contains a longing, an almost wistful nostalgia for a mythical place that may never have existed but is vibrantly present in the collective soul of poetry and music from Africa. – Laurinda
Afrique mon désir (Africa my longing / Afrika my verlange) is a 75min multi-media world music production, directed by David Kramer, featuring Laurinda Hofmeyr and the Afrique mon désir ensemble, presented by the Cape Town Music Academy (CTMA). Legendary theatre director, David Kramer, joins forces with the multi-award winning South African singer and composer, Laurinda Hofmeyr, famous for setting poetry to music, and bassist and musical producer Schalk Joubert.
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I hope this album may lead to a wider appreciation of the great poets and musicians we have on this continent from which I have personally drawn so much new creative energy. – Laurinda
Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, Madagascar’s famous poet, was the first new voice to which I was introduced. My encounter with his poetry sparked an interest in the music of the Great Red Island and probably influenced the 6/8 time signature of three of the four Rabearivelo songs. But more importantly, this led to the idea of inviting Malagasy musician Régis Gizavo to be part of our project.
To meet and work with this brilliant musician was definitely a highlight of this album. His intuitive ‘from the heart’ approach to music inspired all of us as did his sensitivity to the mood of each song. Régis died unexpectedly only a few weeks after the recording. This devastating news was made more poignant by his admission that the words “la vie ne dure que le temps d’un souffle” in the song 26 November 1975, were the first he had ever sung in French for a recording. I feel very grateful and privileged to have shared some of his last musical moments on this planet.
is a poet, writer, journalist and Professor at the University of the Western Cape. She published twelve volumes of poetry in Afrikaans, two volumes in English, and three non-fiction books.
Photo: Antonia Steyn
(4 March 1901 or 1903 – 22 June 1937), Born Joseph-Casimir Rabearivelo, is widely considered to be Africa’s first modern poet and the greatest literary artist of Madagascar.
Photo: Brice Rakotomanga
OUSMANE MOUSSA DIAGANA
studied literature in Morocco and then in Paris where he obtained a Doctorate of Letters. Poet and distinguished linguist, Ousmane Diagana was professor at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities (departments of French Literature, Linguistics and National Languages) of Nouakchott where he worked on Soninke language and oral literature.
(born 1955) is a writer, poet, novelist, and artist from Côte d’Ivoire. Having lived and worked in many countries within the African continent and diaspora, she feels herself to be pan-African, in a way that is reflected in the subject matter, imagery and allusions of her work.
(born 16 September 1939) is a South African writer and painter of great eminence. He is informally considered as the national poet laureate by Afrikaans-speaking South Africans of the region. He also holds French citizenship.
Photo: Retha Ferguson