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Standard Press (paragraph short)

Francois le Roux, aka the HA!Man, is a South African cellist and multi artist that left the classical music environment to embark on a journey of spontaneous music making. Self-managed, a network of support has grown globally over two decades that invites and accommodates the "HA!Man Show," workshops in spontaneous creativity and various collaborations. Like the term "HA!," a HA! performance can hardly be rationally defined. Yet with each engagement the trust is renewed that a deeply moving, energizing and healing nerve can be touched and that art can still build community. Joining him as partner since 2012 is Belgian actress and word artist Joke Debaere.

Non-standard Press (paragraph long)

I write this in the first person, because I play in the first person. I do not play as a cellist. I play as me. every note tears from a place between my shoulders, neck and stomach. when I started out in this way 24 years ago, I was hung up on this: I only play one note and everything that wants to be born from that. I am still playing only that one note. it is called HA!. when people - so often - after a performance, with wide eyes and wind-swept minds, ask me, where does your inspiration come from? I can only say: the people and places I encounter while travelling. they feed my feelings in ways I cannot describe. I perform those feelings in a performance I cannot - and nobody could ever really help me - to describe. it starts in silence, not knowing what I will play next. I have a pool of accompaniments, selected original electronic recordings spanning 15 years, next to me. from those I pick as the performance edges on. I improvise on top of them. they turn me into a soloist with a symphony orchestra, a crazy lead player in a band, a drifting cloud on a bed of strings, a clunky wonk on a cascade of clipping clinks; they turn me into a bird, twittering with little flutes, or a storm on keyboard keys.. they can charge me so much I leave instruments behind and start to dance and paint with a coloured cloth. and sometimes I also leave them behind to create all on my own. and so the whole show becomes a story, or as one has put it, “he whips us in and out of history.” I love histories, spanning an arch of a life, a rainbow of emotions and a smorgasbord of human styles and traditions. And yet all of these hinges on that one note. call me the HA!Man, because I appear on stage with nothing much more than a certain breath I breathe.

Extended Press

Francois le Roux (the HA!Man) is a classically trained musician who has based his career on spontaneous playing. In his regular performances he makes use of his own electronic accompaniments, crossing musical boundaries into many directions, improvises on the cello and keyboard instruments, dances, sings and whistles. The word "HA!" derives from the inner momentum that is garnered practicing real-time creativity in front of an audience.

Le Roux was born into a musical family, receiving both formal training and encouragement to improvise from a very young age. His first piano compositions came at five, at ten he was a church organist and at eleven appeared as solo cellist with the Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra. Many awards followed during his school career. He detoured from music to do military service for two years and then a degree in philosophy and theology at Stellenbosch University. After an incomplete BMus (UNISA) he went on his own to give completely improvised solo recitals. It is from this that the HA!Man Show evolved over the last 20 years.

His CV is as littered with surprises as his performances are. Relying almost entirely on personal networking, the HA!Man show travels in four continents totaling over 200 engagements per year, including workshops, collaborations and creative projects. His mobile studio has produced over 700 pieces and 60 albums. He virtually performs in any kind of venue, right up to the Royal Albert Hall where he appeared (also as musical director) in 2004. In South Africa he was twice appointed as musical director for the Woman of the Year awards ceremony (2001, 2) and regularly appears in various productions at the Grahamstown, Oudtshoorn and other South African festivals (in July 2007 he joined jazz pianist Paul Hanmer for improvised duets at the main festival in Grahamstown and has been a main feature at the Kolligfees in Durban in 2007 and 2008). He has shared the stage with various artists of note, including Sibongile Khumalo, Stef Bos and Steve Hofmeyer and produced soundtracks for numerous plays, dance pieces and film work.

Nationally, the HA!Man HA!Man has been spotlighted in the press and in TV interviews. He was voted one of 100 new leading Afrikaans personalities in SA by De Kat Magazine and appointed artist in residence for The Prince of Wales's Business & Environment's 5th SA Seminar in 2008. Further interesting commissions include the soundtrack for a globally released Animal Planet ETV documentary on the Knysna elephants (2008) and convening a 2009 concert for the 60th anniversary of the Voortrekker Monument - taking Afrikaner culture into the 21st century. Overseas, his compositions and recordings have been featured at Italy's Teramo Festival (July 2008) and at London's Royal Albert Hall (2004). School residencies for the HA!Man, resulting in mass choir and orchestra concerts, have also regularly been sponsored by Proctor's Theatre in Schenectady, New York State.

In 2012 the Belgian actress and word artist, Joke Debaere, joined him as a full time partner and co-performer. Amongst many other appearances, the duo has been a star attraction at the 2014 xpo KUNXFetti MMXIV in the Netherlands and have collaborated with Hollywood-based digital artist Audri Phillips in a immersive dome performance piece called "Relentless Universe" at the Center Studios, downtown Los Angeles (2015).

Behind HA!Man the artist is a person deeply affected by and committed to South Africa and Africa - a commitment reflected in songs like Beautiful Land and Her Time Has Come. He and Joke follows a natural life-style that includes a mostly raw, sprout-based diet with a love for going bare feet. They travel over 60 000km a year by car to follow up on performance invitations. Visit www.hamanworld.com for more.