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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) 2010 - Index of articles, audio and images

  • Inside/Out with Manuel Bagorro, Creative Director, Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA)
    April 22, 2010

    Listen Full interview with Manuel Bagorro - Read and listen

    Describe yourself in five words?
    Loyal, hardworking, collaborative and a starter of things!

    What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
    Persevere. I remember as a young pianist there was this idea of practise, practise, practise. If you keep going, and you keep working you're going to be all right. I think that perseverance is incredibly important and its advice that I value.

    What's the most ridiculous thing you've ever done?
    HIFA, considering how inexperienced I was and how ill prepared I was in some ways. The idea of starting a major international festival was probably a slightly ridiculous thing considering my background. It worked out well in the end but if I had known what I know now I would have been a lot more scared.

    What is your most treasured possession?
    Close friends and family.

    What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
    Being deprived of beautiful things. It sounds superficial doesn't it? But what I mean by beautiful things is things that they are inspiring in some way. What inspires me is music of different types, visual things - I love art. To be without music and beauty of many different types would be a miserable thing.

    Do you have any strange hobbies?
    I don't really. I like to eat a lot. I love to go to restaurants. I love to try new food.

    What do you dislike most about your appearance?
    It's funny, but I feel like I'm a comfortable old shoe, I've gotten used to the way I look. There's nothing that particularly worries me. But I constantly pretend that I've just joined a gym and I'm going to gym regularly. I'd like to be healthier and look healthier.

    What is your greatest extravagance?

    What have you got in your fridge?
    At the moment I have nothing. But I love cheese; if there were a comfort food that I have to have it would be cheese and good bread.

    What is your greatest fear?
    Irrelevance. I hate the idea of everything that I do being completely without significance. I just don't like the idea of working without anything significant coming from it.

    What would you most like to be remembered for?
    It's changed, as I've gotten older. There was a time when I was so obsessed with being famous. I just wanted to be recognised as an artist and as a performer. The performance was more important to me than the music. So there was a time when I wanted to be remembered as a performing artist and as someone with charisma. It's moved away from personal glory. I think I'd like to be remembered for ideas and for starting new things. I feel so proud of the Festival and so happy at the luck and the fortuitous circumstances that have come together to make it as successful as it has been.

    What have you got in your pockets right now?
    I've got some keys, a wallet, lots of bits of old paper, and business cards, most of which I have no idea where they came from!

    What is your favourite journey?
    The train journey from London to Paris. It always makes me happy because I know I'm going to have a nice time in Paris. I also I think about my childhood journeys, particularly the ones between Harare and Bulawayo. Its not a particularly inspiring road - I used to take the Blue Arrow and I used to quite like it.

    Who are your heroes in real life?
    I have a lot of artistic heroes, people who I think are amazing at what they do. I really love the slight infatuation one develops for someone whose talent you admire. Other heroes are people who have done something that has some vision and courage around it.

    When and where were you happiest?
    I believe in the happiness of now. I like the idea of my happiness always being ahead. I think I'm generally a person that strays towards happiness. I am happiest when I am surrounded by people I love . . . that think I'm amazing!

    What's your biggest vice?
    Sloth. I'm quite lazy. When there is nothing imminent, when I'm not preparing for something specific, I love to laze about.

    What were you like at school?
    I think I was quite awkward and stupid probably. I was somewhat secretive. I loved the idea of my piano work being a secret that I had and that I would suddenly burst out of my shell and be this phenomenal talent. I was more complicated as a teenager than I am now. The things that tortured me at the time now seem much more straightforward.

    What are you doing next?
    I am doing the Festival, which is about to open. Then I go back to New York and I am working on the Carnegie Hall project. I'm also considering starting a new project in New York but featuring Zimbabwean artists in different ways. It would also be a new chapter for me. I have plans for new things but always related to my heart and passion, which are the arts.

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