Saturday April 5 2014

Strumming the violin for God


By Emmy Omongin

He plays one of the most sophisticated musical instruments. Besides that, he does a not-so-recognised and well-paying genre –gospel music. Emmanuel Zzinda, 21, is a freestyle violinist with a touch of Afro-fusion giving you a soft, smooth and soothing sound.

As a chorister at Namirembe Cathedral, he felt the urge to learn how to play a few music instruments; consequently starting off with a piano.
“I started with a piano in 2001 and later enrolled for violin classes in 2007, after my Senior Four exams,” he narrates, “I got a private violin teacher at Kampala Music School called Frances Artwood. Since I knew how to play a piano, it was quite easy for me to learn the violin,” he recalls.

The violin is a bit frisky since it has only four notes but the simplicity Zzinda exhibits while playing is unmatched. “I mastered all the notes and the distance between them in my head so it’s a lot easier for me,” he says making it look simple to learn this rare instrument.

“I was taught classical music but I now fuse it with African pieces. I realised that being flexible and diverse is one way to entertain my clients during weddings. Zzinda adds that he has performed during city tycoon Godfrey Kirumira’s wedding at Munyoyo last year and several others in Serena. My music is strictly Christian. Songs like “It is well with my soul”, “Ssabyu” and many others are purely divine,” Zzinda says.

The versatile Zzinda has played in many churches in country. “I always play for free during services at Watoto churches and All Saints Cathedral. I only charge when it is a wedding party or dinner for a corporate company,” he says.

He has travelled all over East Africa for shows with his recent being a performance at Nairobi Baptist Church, Kenya.

How he gets bookings
Even if Zzinda is a rising instrumentalist, he is professional than these other established artistes. He has devised means of setting up a website for his bookings; is where his clients usually place bookings for any upcoming events.

“The website also has some of my recorded pieces, videos of events I have played at and my first video,” he adds. The least Zzinda charges is Shs800, 000 depending on the location of the event.

Zzinda says that he was inspired from the time he joined the choir to minister in church. “I was inspired by Ivan Kiwuwa, the then choir leader of Namirembe Cathedral.

Since I used to play every regularly at All saints Cathedral, I got the zeal and perhaps God’s calling to play full time as an organist at All Saints,” he adds.

The violin maestro is counting achievements including travelling around East Africa, networking with artistes and most importantly earning living off the trade. “It is very hard to find a Uganda playing a violin at a professional level and I’m proud to be one of the best violinists in East Africa,” he boasts, “I emerged winner of inter-cooper music competition in Nairobi.”

Challenges and dreams
One of the challenges Zzinda admits is limited exposure. “The type of music that I do is for the high end people. So, getting clients sometimes can be tricky.

I have one album titled Save me O Lord but I lack money to produce music videos,” Zzinda , the young violinist says like any other artiste, Zzinda’s dreams of performing on big stages internationally.He hopes to influence Ugandans to get born again through his breath-taking musical pieces.