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John Pfumojena

John Pfumojena is a distinguished Zimbabwean Composer, Theatre Director, accomplished Actor and Researcher with music published by Warner Chappell Music (Warner Music Group). Joined joined the Humanities Cultural Programme as Visiting Fellow for 2022/23 and elected Visiting Fellow at Exeter College, Oxford University for 2023/24.

Research Interests

His research interests are anchored within Intercultural Collaboration in the creative arts, with a focus on the intersection of music, theatre,  and cultural diversity. He delves into the dimension of decolonizing the pedagogical landscape, primarily within the domains of music and drama training and education. His ground-breaking approach, integrates the oral and improvisational traditions of Southern Africa with modern performance practice and technology, thereby serving as both stimulus and foundation for the evolution of an inclusive, collaborative, modernistic music and theatre sphere. His academic inquiries encompass the exploration of material culture with a specific focus on the representation of Zimbabwean Mbira instruments within the confines of museum spaces. The intersection of research and practice emblematic of his multifaceted contributions to academic and creative realms.

Conference Papers

  • Engel, Judith Valerie, & Bamford, Joshua S., & Pfumojena, John. (2023). Mbira and piano. A case-study of cross-cultural musical dialogue at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. GAPS2 – Global Arts and Psychology Seminar. York, Graz, La Plata, & Melbourne.
  • Engel, Judith Valerie, & Pfumojena, John. (2023). Concert as Ritual. Zimbabwean and Western Classical music traditions in dialogue. The UoW Annual Black Music Symposium at the British Library. London.

Composer, Music Director, Director.

The iterations of his research and practice have been witnessed in the following productions:  Director of seminal play Sizwe Banzi is Dead MAST Mayflower Studios; Composer for award winning play Enough of Him National Theatre of Scotland/Pitlochry Festival Theatre; Musical Director for award winning play For Black Boys West End (Apollo Theatre)/Royal Court/New Diorama; Director and Co-Producer of Bunker of Zion co-produced with The Collaborative Touring Network; Composer & Musical Director for Richard the Second Tangle Theatre Company; Composer and Musical Director for critically acclaimed & award winning play The Jungle by Good Chance Theatre; Director of the play Brothers Size LAMDA – London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. His Discography includes: the collaborative album ‘Sounds Of Refuge’ with Sudanese musician Mohamed Sarrar (Executive Production by Good Chance Theatre).

Acclaim

John Pfumojena, also professionally known as John Falsetto, is a recipient of the OBIE Special Citation Award (NYC) for his work on ‘The Jungle’ play, and Broadway World San Francisco Award for ‘Best Featured actor in a Play’ for the same production. Furthermore, the Zimbabwe Achievers’ Awards (UK) presented John with an Honorary ‘Cultural Ambassador’ Award.  John has received award nominations for ‘Best Musical Director’ (For Black Boys) & ‘Best Supporting Actor in a Musical’ (Carousel)BBTA’s – Black British Theatre Awards, and ‘Best Music and Sound’ (Enough Of Him) CATS – Critic’s Awards for Theatre in Scotland. He has played the iconic role of Peter Pan in the National Theatre Productions’ ‘Peter Pan’. Furthermore, John has worked in productions at the Young Vic, the Old Vic, Shakespeare’s Globe, St Annes Warehouse (NYC), the Playhouse West End, and The Curran in San Francisco amongst others.

Fellowship

During his time as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford, John Pfumojena led interdisciplinary workshops with students and researchers from the academic community. These workshops focused on collaboration and storytelling/history in Mbira music, with key elements drawn from traditional Mbira practices of Zimbabwe. The Fellowship concluded with a series of public performances and seminars that promote the exchange of knowledge.

John Pfumojena’s music provides a welcome sense of disparate cultures coming together” THE  JUNGLE

The Washington Post

“And the celestial harmonies…composed by John Pfumojena are outstanding” RICHARD II

The Stage

“Composed and Directed by John Pfumojena…the production’s musicality is central to its power, bringing great potent surges” RICHARD II

The Guardian

“Composer John Pfumojena’s music draws upon the sounds of African percussion, most notably in a memorable arrangement of the famous Scottish folk song, The Parting Glass” ENOUGH OF HIM

The Telegraph

“The most moving of these (performances) belongs to Okot – a deft John Pfumojena” THE JUNGLE

Time Out, New York

“(Okot) performed by John Pfumojena with a concentrated stillness that absorbs light and sound” THE JUNGLE

The New York Times

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