|afrikaans||110722||Algemene Persvrystelling||Die HA!Man (Francois le Roux) is die boorling van 'n Afrikaanse dominee
en sy musiekonderwyseres-vrou, in 1966 woonagtig op die goudvelde van
Suid-Afrika. Vanaf 'n vroeŽ ouderdom word hy as musikale wonderkind beskou:
reeds op 4-jarige ouderdom improviseer hy op die klavier. Hierdie vaardigheid
is gestimuleer deur sy pa wat musiek van gehoor af gespeel het. Sy formele
musiekopleiding begin by sy ma en strek tot in sy vroeŽ twintigs, toe
hy besluit het om hoofsaaklik op die kuns van spontane musiek te fokus.
Op die ouderdom van tien is hy aangestel as kerkorrelis en op elf het
hy vir die eerste keer as tjellis saam met orkes opgetree. Sy vormingsjare
is gekenmerk deur 'n reeks komposisies en musiek-toekennings, maar ook
skaak, rugby, handwerk, jeugbeweging-leierskap en kerkaktiwiteite. In
die hoogty van Apartheid, is hy opgeroep om militÍre diensplig te doen
as 'n artilleriesoldaat. Daarna het die liefde hom na Stellenbosch gelei
waar hy teologie begin studeer in die voetstappe van sy pa. Dit is in
hierdie tyd (1986-88) dat hy diep innerlike skuiwe ondergaan soos wat
hy gelyktydig worstel met die betekenis van geloof, die dualistiese neigings
van Westerse denke en die noodtoestand in Suid-Afrika.
Hy besluit toe om eerder sy passie, musiek, te volg, maar behaal net 'n halwe musiekgraad toe hy letterlik in 'n eksistensiŽle doodloopstraat beland. Nog sy geloof, filosofie of klassieke musiek-agtergrond kon hom lewensvatbaar onderhou. Vervreem van sy verlede en gemeenskap, keer hy terug na die geboorte van sy musikale bewussyn en verskyn uiteindelik op die verhoog met suiwer improvisasie-konserte. Vanaf 1992 tot 2000 ryloop hy deur Suid-Afrika, tree op as straatmusikant en in huise, hy skryf, dans en interpreteer selfs die geboorte-proses op 'n totale naakte wyse. Dit was eers vanaf 2000 dat sy innerlike reis begin uitfasseer en hy geld leen hom 'n voertuig en rekenaar aan te skaf. Hy besluit op die verhoog-persona van die "HA!Man:" 'n man wat leef en beweeg, aangevuur deur 'n impuls van binne.
Reeds tydens sy filosofie-studies op Stellenbosch, ontdek hy die moontlikheid van drie-dimensionele denke - denke wat direk na die emosies lei en die instinkte heraktiveer. Onder leiding van die tjello-onderwyseres, Dalena Roux, ontdek hy die manier waarop uitdrukking eintlik by die liggaam begin en hoe emosie die verstand kan de-konstrueer. Hierdie ontdekkingsreis word versterk deur die politiese konteks van die dag, waar hy eerstehands aanskou hoe die rou menslike energie van Afrika krake breek, dwarsoor 'n verontmensende ideologiese sisteem. Soos wat hy sy tent opslaan in die rou natuur, verdiep hierdie bewussyn: hoe die die mensdom vir mellinia die aarde gesistematiseer het en organiese ritmes versteur. Hy verander sy dieet na rou vrugte en spruite. Die volgehoue gesondheid wat hy sedertdien geniet, verander sy siening oor sy rol as kunstenaar: ******* from making an impressive stand, towards acting as an anti-cancerous agent, sharing the life-blood of music to pierce through the old layers of patriarchal presumption. Soos wat sy wortels dieper gegroei het in die koninent van die geboorte van die mensdom, word sy uitkyk alhoemeer globaal, dit terwyl hy geen kortpaaie vat om bekendheid en die gemak van geld te bereik nie. Sy kuns en inspirasie bly geheg aan mense, interaksie op die basis van eerstehandse ervaring. Eksperimente waar hy bestuur word en assistente aanstel was van korteduur. Alhoemeer verseker hy 'n onderhoudende lewe deur 'n netwerk op te bou van lokale kontakte wat sy werk williglik ondersteun en fasiliteer.
Die hoofstroom van die kunswÍreld het hom begin raaksien. Vandat hy bygestaan is deur elektroniese begeleidings en begin het om musiek-albums en klankbane te skep en duisende kilometers af te lÍ met sy kar, het die HA!Man sy verskyning begin maak (in various guises) in Suid-Afrika se groot konsertsale, nasionale geleenthede, langs groot name op die verhoog en in televisie en koerante. Sy netwerking het reŽlmatig begin groei tot 'n jaarlikse siklus vertonings, werkswinkels en kollaboratiewe projekte - ses maande in Suid-en Suidelike Afrika, twee maande in Europa, twee in Noord-Amerika en kort besoeke in die Mid-en Verre Ooste. Om by hierdie glans van sukses te voeg - gehoor-terugvoer is gelaai met vergelykings van die HA!Man met die beste in die wÍreld en 'n aantal kere bevind hy homself op die rand van groot internasionale blootstelling. Sy besluit om in Suid-Afrika gebaseer te bly word dikwels bevraagteken. Sedert 2003 keer hy terug na sy nuut-gevonde woonplek in Hogsback, 'n klein dorpie aan die hange van die Amathola-berge, waar eens die krag van imperialisme onomkeerbaar afgeneem het. Aangesien hy geen planne het om te verhuis nie, is dit deels 'n verklaring op die siening dat hy een van die land se mees misterieuse kunstenaarsfigure is.
Hy is inderdaad 'n kopseer vir diegene wat verpakte informasie benodig, diť wat 'n vasgestelde suiwerheid soek en diť wat die mees onlangse mode-neigings volg. Die term HA! is ontdek deur die soeke na 'n beskrywende rasionele konsep vir die manier hoe hy "is" op die verhoog. HA! inkorporeer gevoelens en 'n openheid tot 'n verskeidenheid van uitdrukkings, wyl dit geanker is in die lewendige en geleefde oomblik. Tog, 'n geraamte-struktuur bly staan: die HA!Man Vertoning het die tjello as anker, trek vanuit 'n biblioteek van spontaan-opgeboude begeleidings met sterk gunstelinge, soos sy liedere vir Afrika (Her Time Has Come), Suid-Afrika (Beautiful Land) en die Afrikaner-gemeenskap (Afrikaner is my Naam) - dit als toon klassieke, etniese en populÍre invloede.
Improvisasie op klawerbordinstrumente word bygevoeg, asook sommige fluite en danse. Elke vertoning ontvou op unieke wyses, alhoewel dit altyd minimaal en "ver weg" begin, wat dan hoogtes bereik van vaardigheid en ekspeimentering en uiteindelik meer gevoelvol, oop tot die gehoor, en selfs humoristies word. Die basiese formaat, gepas en aanpasbaar vir amper enige ruimte of smaak, word dikwels uitgebrei deur die byvoeging van plaaslike gaskunstenaars, kore en selfs orkeste. Werkswinkels in spontane kreatiwiteit berei die deelnemers in solo-en groepsimprovisasie voor, asook die blootstelling aan mediums (beyond music) (die HA!Man plaas spesiale fokus op die samewerking met skole en ander opvoedkundige instellings om vertonings, werkswinkels en residensiŽle programme aan te bied).Werk wat vir spesiale projekte gedoen word (soos musiek opgeneem met masjienerie of diere), word ook inkorporeer en gee 'n verdere kleur aan die HA! ondervinding. Aan die ander kant van die spektrum, bly hy in aanraking met die fundamentele deur akoestiese solo vertonings, klassieke optredes, geimproviseerde teater en die aankweking van voordrag-venootskappe, beide met vername en obskure talente. Hy maak ook ruimte om uit te reik na struikelende kunstenaars en vergeleŽ gemeenskappe, alles werk wat die 2008 Prince of Whales Business and Environment Programme (Kaapstad) geinspireer het om 'n ondersteundende fonds op die been te bring.
Die worstel met kwessies van die tye het hom nooit verlaat nie. Sy visie is om omgewings van artistiese uitdrukking te ontwikkel waar die kop en die instink ontmoet, waar die ervare die onervare akkomodeer en die bevoorregdes deel met die minder-bevoorregdes deur die verenigende vloei van ware gevoel. Hierdie kan nie volhoubaar wees as die formate en belange van die kragte wat die globale krisis aanveer gedien word nie. As 'n onafhanklike, bly hy kwesbaar, tog vind hy 'n krag van mense van alle sfere van die gemeenskap wat aangeraak en aangevuur is deur oomblikke van HA!
Francois het geen nasate (tot op hede?). Vir etlike jare het hy sy pad gedeel met Lara Kirsten wie self in 'n onafhanklike voordragkunstenaar ontaard het. Die intense uitdaging vir enige uitsonderlike talent soos syne is om gelyktydig te oorleef om sy merk te laat en ware bekragtiging te fasiliteer. Is hy besig om 'n nalatenskap te skep van iemand, wie, in 'n tydperk van eindelose groei en snelle uitbreiding, probeer - deur sy gawe in musiek en uitdrukking - om die los drade van 'n diep, misterieuse verlede en 'n onskere toekoms bymekaar te bring? Hy bevraagteken beide ons materiŽle en spirituele gode om sodoende in aanraking te kom met iets wat ... menslike volwassenheid genoem kan word? Met hierdie doel voor oŽ, is die HA! wel die asemhaling werd.
|afrikaans||090720||Persvrystelling Standaard 0907||Die HA!Man (Francois le Roux, gb. 1966) stap lank reeds die pad van
'n onafhanklike kunstenaar: tjellis, komponis en aanbieder van inspirerende
werkswinkels. Sy fokus op spontane musiekmaak (vandaar die term "HA!")
kan na sy kinderdae as deel van 'n musikale familie terugherlei word.
Reeds op vier-jarige ouderdom konstrueer hy klavierstukkies wat imponeer.
Op sewe begelei hy kerkliedere op gehoor en op tien word hy aangestel
as Suid-Afrika se jongste permanente orrelis. Dwarsdeur sy skoolloopbaan
in Johannesburg ontvang hy opleiding in tjello, klavier, orrel en komposisie
en presteer hy met beurse, kompetisies, uitsendings en solo-optredes saam
met prominente orkeste. Daarna volg twee jaar militere diensplig en 'n
BA cum laude in teologie en filosofie by Stellenbosch Universiteit. Hy
keer terug na musiek met twee jaar studies deur UNISA en kort flirtasies
met formele tjello en komposisie as loopbaankeuses.
Die historiese veranderinge van 1990 tot 1994, asook sy lewendige belangstelling in nuusgebeure en die geskiedenis, is deels verantwoordelik vir sy uiteindelike besluit om die formele musiekwereld te verlaat en op eie stoom volledig-geimproviseerde uitvoerings op tjello, klavier en orrel te gee ("Francois on Piano," Grahamstadse Fees, 1992). Hierdie "vars begin" neem hom na die strate en vlooimarkte (en sitkamers!) van Suid-Afrikaanse stede en dorpe waar hy oor vyf jaar die kuns van spontane tjellospel - waar elke oomblik tel - bemeester. In hierdie tyd begin hy ook sy rou-spruite dieet en ryloop hy oor die lengte en breedte van die land. Sy spontane uitdrukkingsvernuf word uitgebrei na skryf, teken, dans en "performance art" en hy verdien broodlyn-inkomste uit die verspreiding van handgeskrewe gedigte en tekeninge.
'n Volgende fase word in 2000 betree by die aanskaf van 'n voertuig en rekenaar. Spoedig begin die skepping van sy befaamde elektroniese begeleidings wat hoofsaaklik met spontane tjello aangevul word in sy optredes. Klankbaanskepping en werkswinkels by skole in "spontane kreatiwiteit" neem ook 'n aanvang. in 2001 doop hy homself die "HA!Man" in om iets van sy nuut-ontwikkelde identiteit as kunstenaar vas te vang: 'n skepper-in-die-oomblik, 'n netwerker van mense en plekke, 'n voorstaander van drie-dimensionele denke en 'n hart besorgd oor die menslike kondisie.
Die "HA!Man Vertoning" groei sedertdien tot 'n geleentheid wat oorloop van die energie van direkte kreatiwiteit, wat speels grense oorskry tussen uitdrukkingsmediums (hy sluit ook die klawerbord/klavier, blok- en ander fluitjies, "tjelloperkussie," dans en sang in) en musiekstyle (sy klassieke agtergrond word verryk met 'n sterk dosis van Afrika, wereld- en populere musiek). Dis opwindend in die interaktiwiewe aard daarvan - die gehoor word keurig betrek in die skeppingsproses - en beindruk met sy internasionale vlak van vaardigheid en strukturele rugraat. Die werkswinkels ontvou uniek met elke groep - uit vlakke wat wissel vanaf voorskool tot tersiere en deur tot volwasse en korporatiewe vlak. Gebasseer op 'n eenvoudige dog kragtige fasilitering van direkte uitdrukking, word selfvertroue, groepssensitiwiteit en kreatiewe inspirasie bevorder en lei dikwels tot persoonlike katarsis. Vanuit sy mobiele atteljee verskyn 'n konstante vloei van opnames, verwerkings en klankbane wat die onmiskenbare merk van sy meevoerende, begeesterde en "onklassifiseerbare" klanke dra.
As bestuurder van sy eie loopbaan, hou hy noukeurig databasisse van ondersteuners, opnames, geleenthede, toerbeplannings en skeppinge in stand. Hierdie veeleisende werkswyse maak dit vir hom moontlik om 'n hoe graad van oorspronklikheid in sy bewegings, gehoorontwikkeling en prudukteverskaffing te handhaaf. Tog het hy ook reeds 'n beduiende merk in die publieke sfeer gemaak - in Suid-Afrikaanse venues soos die Sandton Theatre on the Square, Evita se Perron (Darling), die Dorpstraat Teater (Stellenbosch), Kalk Bay Theatre en met massakore in die Linder Ouditorium en Grahamstadse Monument-teater. Die HA!Man verskyn ook gereeld by groot en klein kunstefeeste ooraloor Suid-Afrika en was aangestel as musiekdirekteur vir prominente geleenthede soos die South African Woman of the Year Awards Gala (Artscape Opera, Kaapstad, 2001,2) en die Ukkasiefees-hoofkonsert in die Royal Albert Hall (Londen, 2004). Hy het al gekomponeer vir en/of verskyn met name soos Sibongile Khumalo (sopraan), Stef Bos (sanger, Belgie) en Steve Hofmeyr (sanger, Afrikaans) en 'n paar profiele is reeds deur nasionale radio en televisie uitgesaai.
Sy entoesiasme oor samewerkings lei tot staande artistiese verhoudings met instrumentaliste soos Derek Gripper, (kitaar), Paul Hanmer (jazz klavier) en Laura Kirsten (klassieke klavier en poesie). Ander sluit in Eric Leonardson (elektroniese klankskepping, Chicago), Cathleen Schandelmeier en ander Chicago digters in drie multi-media produksies, Jan Seiden (Amerikaans-Indiese fluite, Baltimore), Andrew Peters (township sanger) en Sheri Brown (Bhuto danser, Seattle). Verskeie projekte wat musiek en die digkuns kombineer sluit in 'n CD-opname saam met Carina Stander asook produksies met Helena Conradie en Annelise Wiid. 'n HA!Man-klankbaan vergesel ook die kunsinstallasie ("Green Bottles") by die Paarlse kunstefees in 2008.
Sy werkswinkels het al ver draaie gemaak: skole en universiteite (asook gevangenisse en inrigtings vir gestremdes) regoor Suid-Afrika; by vooraanstaande institusies in die buiteland, soos die Princeton en Kansas Universiteite, die Soka Universiteit naby Los Angeles, die Sahmyook Universiteit in Seoul, Korea en die Hochschule fur Musik in Bern, Switzerland. 'n Goed-gedokumenteerde drie-daagse kunsenaar-in-situ projek was van stapel gestuur in die Niskayuna skool-distrik en ook later by Proctor's Theatre in Schenectady, New York State (2006,8). Korporatiewe sessies sluit in Nashua Mobile, Liberty Life, LG (Korea), Akorn Destination Management (hotel Le Meurice, Paris) en JP Morgan (London). 'n Betekenisvolle bevestiging van sy omvangryke vaardigheid was sy betrokkenheid in Mei 2008 by "The Prince of Wales's Business and the Environment Programme's 5th Southern African Seminar" (Kaapstad). Vir die eerste maal is 'n kunstenaar gevra om nie alleen 'n optrede te gee aan hierdie uitgesoekte versameling van besigheids en regeringsleiers nie, maar ook 'n werkswinkel aan te bied en deurgaans aan besprekings deel te neem, met kreatiewe "intervensies" op klavier om die gevoelsdimensie weer te gee en te versterk. Die HA!Man was ook vir die laaste twee jaar genooi om die uitgesoekte Mandela Rhodes Scholars met sy werk en leierskaps-insig te inspireer.
Sy uitgebreide reise staan nie in die pad van 'n hoe uitset van werk nie. Sedert 2000 het hy meer as 800 snitte opgeneem, meer as 60 CD-albums saamgestel en rondom 40 video snitte verfilm en saamgestel. Gedigte in Afrikaans en Engels en grafiese kuns drup ook steeds uit. Onder lewendige opnames tel uurlange vol-improvisasies: orrel met gehoordeelname (SABC - Johannesburg, 1999 en St George's Katedraal - Kaapstad, 2000); klavire (SABC - Johannesburg, 1998) en Genk (Belgium, 2007). Klankbane voltooi sluit in "Die Prins van Pretoria" (Franz Marx vollengte film, 1991), Andrew Buckland se "Makana," Reza de Wet se "Lake," Tanya Surtees se bekroonde "Gumbo" en Peter Krummeck se produksie van Shakespeare se Hamlet (drama); Gary Gordon se "Tread" en Heike Gehring se "Lady Anne" (fisiese teater). Onlangs voltooi hy 'n meevoerende klankbaan vir die globaal-vrygestelde TV dokumenter oor die ontwykende "Knysna Elephants."
Francois beoog om in die langtermyn sy onafhanklike HA!-platform te behou en dit te ontwikkel tot 'n beduidende globale kanaal vir kreatiwiteit wat spontaan is in die diepste sin van die woord. Dit is sy oortuiging dat hierdie kunsvorm op baie maniere kan bydra tot die volwassewording van die mensdom, 'n mensdom wat in sy huidige adolossensie ernstige uitdagings in die gesig staar. Sy basis in Hogsback, Suid-Afrika, is deel van sy inspirasie hiertoe. Vir hom is deel van ons heling as 'n besonderse spesie net moontlik as ons ons Afrika-oorspronge erken en opnuut ontgin. Dit is hierdie HA!-musiek van "onder af uit" wat voelbaar is in sy optredes, wat hy bevorder deur al sy aktiwiteite en wat hy hoop 'n blywende bydrae sal lewer.
Besoek www.hamanworld.com om te kontak, vir meer infomedia en om in te skryf op "HA!News."
|english||160727||General HA!Man Press '16||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.
|english||150319||HA!Ma and Joke Overall||In 2001, Francois le Roux decided on the stage name of "the HA!Man"
after failing to find any rational term to describe his music and art.
As a child he improvised on piano before receiving his first lessons from
his mother, an accomplished pianist. This introduction to music, as a
playing field to be discovered, rather than studied, remained with him
throughout his school years, whilst taking lessons in cello, piano and
music composition. Much was expected of him as a classical musician, yet
by 1991 (aged 25), as the South Africa he grew up in was liberated from
European exclusivity, he chose to make his living by the spontaneous music
making he started off with.
Throughout the nineties he survived mainly from street and acoustic performances, hitch-hiked his way around South Africa and extended his art to include writing, drawing and dancing. Then, along with becoming "the HA!Man" came the use of a computer and amplification, the creation of accompaniments, soundtracks and the self-production of cd albums, opening up a range of new opportunities and visions. And so during the early 2000's various attempts was made in South Africa, the USA, Europe and Far East to turn this HA! phenomenon into a mainstream success. Yet the spontaneous and ever-evolving character of HA! remained and refused to be packaged in. What grew in stead was an informal network of support, through direct arrangements with a range of individuals, schools and humanitarian organizations, which provided an ongoing stream of private and public performances, workshops and collaborations that stretches over four continents.
In time then, the "HA!Show" turned out to be a connecting, rather than a more objective experience, bringing modern technology and raw expression, artist and audience and different mediums of expression together in new and creative ways, often in support of building local community and always in search of closer relation between body and mind. Of the many artists he worked with in a spontaneous manner, Belgian actress and word artist Joke Debaere became his life and stage partner in an ongoing collaboration that broadens each performance into an even more intense journey to the heart of being human. Each time, on all sides, a level of trust is needed that the intuitive flow of cello, keyboard and the spoken word, of acting and dancing, soundscapes and images, will move, heal and inspire in such a way that actual and deeply felt change is effected - change that, just like the expression of HA!, can hardly be rationally explained. Finally, in an age where humanity's adolescent estrangement from nature is fast threatening our very existence, the hope is that an infusion of HA! will keep contributing to nudge us towards more mature ways - for a long and viable time to come.
|english||110715||HA!Man General Press||The HA!Man (Francois le Roux) was born from an Afrikaans preacher and
his music teacher wife on the goldfields of South Africa, 1966. He was
soon recognized as a child prodigy in music, improvising since the age
of four. This was stimulated by his father, who played by ear. His formal
musical training started with his mother and stretched into his early
twenties, when he decided to focus primarily on spontaneous music making.
At age ten he was appointed church organist and at eleven performed for
the first time as solo cellist with orchestra. His formative years was
further marked by a series of compositions and musical awards, but also
chess, rugby, handiwork, scout leadership and church activities. In the
heyday of Apartheid, he was called to do two years military service as
an artilleryman. Afterwards, love nudged him towards Stellenbosch to study
theology, in the footsteps of his father. Yet the years 1986-88 marked
a deep inner shift as he simultaneously grappled with the meaning of faith,
the dualistic tendencies of western thought and a state of emergency in
He then decided to rather follow music, his passion, but could only manage half a degree when he literally hit an existential dead-end. Neither his faith, philosophy nor musical heritage sustained him in a viable manner anymore. Estranged from his past and society, he returned to the birth of his musical consciousness and took the stage with fully improvised recitals. From 1992-2000 he hitch-hiked throughout South Africa, busking on streets, performing in houses, writing, drawing, dancing and even re-interpreting the birth process in a totally naked manner. It was only in 2000 that his inner journey expended itself and he borrowed money to buy a car and a computer. He decided on the stage persona of the HA!Man: a man living and moving, driven by an impulse from within.
While studying philosophy at Stellenbosch, he already stumbled on the possibility of three-dimensional thought, thought that leads directly into feelings, reigniting the instincts. Under the cello tutelage of Dalena Roux, he discovered the way in which expression actually starts with the body and how feeling can deconstruct the mind. This journey was amplified by the political stage, where he witnessed firsthand how the raw human energy of Africa put cracks all over a de-humanizing ideological system. As he pitched his tent in wild places, the awareness deepened: how the body of humanity for ages systemized the earth and strained organic rhythms. He changed his diet towards raw fruits and sprouts. The sustained health he since enjoyed changed his view of his role as an artist: from making an impressive stand, towards acting as an anti-cancerous agent, sharing the life-blood of music to pierce through the old layers of patriarchal presumption. As his roots shot deeper into the continent of humanity's birth, his view became increasingly global, all the while failing to take any shortcut towards fame and monetary ease. His art and inspiration remained closely tied up with people, interacting on the basis of first hand experience. Experiments with being managed and employment of assistants were short-lived. Increasingly, he secured sustainability by networking expressed offers of localized support and facilitation.
Nevertheless, the main stream art world took note. Since being aided by electronic accompaniments and producing albums, soundtracks and travelling copious distances by car, the HA!Man featured in various guises in South Africa's major performance venues, national events, appeared with big name artists on stage and was profiled by television and major newspapers. His networking resulted in a steady growth towards an annual cycle of performances, workshops and collaborative projects - six months in South and southern Africa, two months in Europe, two in North America and short stops in the Mid- and Far East. To add to this gloss of success, audience feedback are peppered with comparisons of the HA!Man with the best in the world and for a number of times he has found himself on the verge of major international exposure. His decision to remain based in South Africa is therefore often questioned. Since 2003, he regularly returns for the remaining two months to his new-found home in Hogsback, a small village perched on the Amatola mountains, where once the age of imperialism was inexorably set into decline. As he has no plans to relocate, it might partly explain why he is regarded by some as one of his country's most mysterious artistic figures.
He is a headache indeed for those who require packaged information, those who seek a set purity and those who manage the latest trends. The term HA! itself was fell upon after failing to find a descriptive rational concept for the way he "be" on stage. HA! incorporates feeling and an openness to a variety of expressions, anchored in a living and lived moment. Yet, a skeleton structure remains: the HA!Man Show has the cello as anchor, draws from a library of spontaneously layered accompaniments with firm favourites, such as his songs for Africa (Her Time Has Come), South Africa (Beautiful Land) and the Afrikaner community (Afrikaner is my Naam) - showing classical, ethnic and popular influences. Improvisation on keyboard instruments is added as well as some flutes and dances. Each performance unfolds uniquely, yet always starts minimal and far away, then reaches heights of skill and experimentation and finally becomes more emotive, open to the audience, even humorous. Suitable and adaptable for almost any venue and taste, this basic format is often expanded upon by adding local guest performers, choirs and even orchestras. Workshops in spontaneous creativity prepare participants in solo and group improvisation, also covering a range of mediums beyond music (the HA!Man places special focus on working with schools and educational institutions to perform, workshop or arrange residency programmes). Work done for special projects (like music recorded with machines or animals), also get incorporated, giving further colour to the HA! experience. On the other side of the spectrum, he stays in touch with the basics through acoustic solo performances, classical recitals, improvised theatre and the nurturing of performance partnerships, both with highly accomplished and still obscure talents. He also makes room to reach out to struggling artists and remote communities, work that inspired the 2008 Prince of Whales Business and Environment Programme (Cape Town) to start a supporting fund.
Wrestling with the issues of the day has never left him. His vision is to sprout environments of artistic expression where mind meets instinct, the accomplished accommodate the lay and the privileged share with the downtrodden through the reconciliatory flow of true feeling. This cannot thrive while serving the formats and interests of the very powers that are the drive behind global crises. As an independent, he remains vulnerable, yet finds a daring strength from people from all spheres of society who have been moved and rejuvenated by moments of HA!
Francois has no human offspring (as yet?). He did partner on the road for some years with Lara Kirsten who herself then spawned into an independent performer of note. The intense challenge remains for any exceptional talent like his to at once survive to make its mark as well as to facilitate true empowerment. Is he perhaps creating a legacy of one, who, in this age of 'endless' growth and rapid expansion, tries - through his gift of music and expression - to reconnect the dots between a deep, mysterious past and an uncertain future? Questioning both our material and spiritual gods in order to touch on something that could be called.. human maturity? To that end, the HA! might just be well worth breathing.
|english||080825||Background and significance of the HA!Man||Francois le Roux is South African, a tenth generation descendent from
the French Huguenots who fled to Africa. He is a trained cellist, pianist
and composer who made a career based on spontaneous music making since
16 years ago. The impulse to be composer-and-performer-in-one came from
his father, who played piano by ear and had Francois sit on his lap with
his little hands on his own. By the time he was five, he was already performing
his own pieces to others; at ten, had a post as a church organist and
at sixteen completed his first work for full orchestra.
Having finished a degree in theology and philosophy and half a degree in music, he took up the challenge to give totally improvised recitals on cello and piano. With virtually no support, he had to supplement his income by playing on the streets in the cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg. It was the time of the release of Mandela and South Africa's transition to majority rule which made a profound impact on him. His whole musical outlook shifted away from the Western specialist approach, to that of spontaneity and spirited playing and a more open relationship with the audience. His musical language became strongly influenced by the vibrancy of African music, but also a kind of melting pot of a range of popular and traditional styles. Even so, his main influence remains his classical background and he was determined to contribute making the art of improvisation and performance innovation again part of main stream musical practice.
In his performances he employs the computer and electronic sounds to provide original accompaniments to not only spontaneous cello playing, but also keyboard playing, dancing, singing and interaction with the audience. Even the way he manages his career gives central emphasis on the spontaneous responses by those who experienced the "HA!Man" (as he became known) rather than relying on professional promotion. This networking style soon lead to an international touring circuit that covers 40 000 miles of road travel in four continents annually. It lands him with an adventurous array of different venues, types of audiences and contexts as performer, workshop facilitator and participant in creative projects. His thoughts on spontaneity and its global significance keep drawing the attention of high profile leadership and business seminars and his strong and moving songs for South Africa, Africa and humanity as a whole is finding growing performance exposure.
The HA!Man's music is not easy to categorize, as it is marked by a constant creative openness. It therefore naturally resists commercialization, the packaging in a product format. It is more recognized by character, rather than style: spirited, emotive, playful, adventurous. It remains communicative, therefore would not be willfully experimental or alternative. It has a knack of rendering what the general ear is accustomed to in a way that gives it a quality of freshness and uniqueness. Perhaps this has something to do with the HA!Man's sprout-based diet! It is first and foremost music of experience, and not of the library.
The significance of the HA!Man in an African context, is that the emotive language of Western Classical music finds a direct connection with the immediacy and physicality of traditional African music. His spontaneity also introduces a felt spiritual dimension to his performances that is rarely found in formal and commercial music contexts. This resonates strongly with indigenous Africans. His playing soon has black audiences on their feet, whether the sound texture is flowing or highly rhythmical. In his most popular song, Her Time Has Come, Africa not only infuses symphonic sounds, but is acknowledged as the emotive heart of humanity. This brings Africa into a central relationship with the world, a world that so easily overlooks its original significance.
To US audiences who are accustomed to strong local African contributions, the HA!Man deepens the feeling for this most potent of cultural cross-overs as he draws from an older and more original African sound scape. Moreover, his whole non-market approach adds a fresh breeze in a tough money-centered environment where creativity is more than often forced to serve an established demand-side, rather than being a fountain of constant possibility. In the land of "getting-the-job-done" he serves as a reminder of our innate need to Play, where direction and structure is found through a natural sifting process, rather than through the de-liberation of set targets.
To appreciate the HA!Man globally might still be premature, but a few pointers may be distinguished. The inclusive cauldron of his sound-language is certainly a potential contributor to a musicality that is representative of humanity as a whole. This differs somewhat from global music that has spread through branding and the conditioning of modern media. It is a sound that may be recognized as something that belongs to the inner human heart, a sound that may truly build mutual understanding and strengthen our awareness of belonging to the same overall and original family. Furthermore, his ways on stage revives the child in himself and the audience, opening the possibility to see things in fresh and encompassing ways, especially within the context of finding solutions to crises that concerns all of us like the degradation of the environment that sustains us and the threat of human extinction through climate change. Finally, the spontaneous network that grows around his performances is already linking people across the globe and might just - in the long run - add a new dimension to the ability of music to draw us all closer together.. closer together in one big HA!
|english||080125||Press Release Standard 0907||The HA!Man (Francois le Roux, b. 1966) has travelled an independent
road as a cellist, composer and facilitator of inspirational workshops.
His emphasis on spontaneous music making (hence the term HA!) has its
roots in his early childhood, having constructed pieces on the piano since
age four. At seven, he accompanied church songs by ear and at ten was
an appointed church organist. Through his schooling years in Johannesburg
he was a prominent prodigy, being trained in cello, piano, organ and composition,
appearing - amongst other achievements - as a young soloist with symphony
orchestras. Two years military training followed, as well as a BA cum
laude in theology and philosophy at Stellenbosch University. His focus
then returned to music, with an unfinished B Mus degree at UNISA and the
decision to go on his own with purely improvised performances.
Having wide interests, including current affairs of South Africa and the world, the historical events of 1990 to 1994 reflects in his move away from the formal music environment. His "fresh start" took him to a life with a backpack - hitch-hiking South Africa from 1995 to 1999, and his diet changed to being based on a self-grown mix of raw sprouts. His art branched into writing, drawing, dancing and performance art, all based on a strict spontaneous approach (creation out of "nothing"). A minimal income came from selling copies of handwritten poems and drawings, performing on the streets of cities and towns throughout South Africa, as well as in intimate performances at private houses.
This spell was broken in 2000 when he bought a car and computer, swiftly moving into creating electronic accompaniments for his improvising cello, the production of soundtracks and giving workshops in Spontaneous Creativity at schools. In 2001 he became the "HA!Man," the name serving to cap the identity he shaped since taking the independent road: a creator-in-the-moment, a net-worker of people and places, a proponent of three-dimensional thinking and a heart concerned with the human condition.
The "HA!Man Show" evolved into an event brimming with the energy of direct creativity, playful in its crossing of boundaries between mediums of expression (he includes the keyboard/piano, recorder, ocarinas, "cello drumming," dancing and singing) and musical styles (he has enriched his classical background with a strong dash of Africa, world musics and popular genres): exciting in its interactivity - incorporating the audience into the creative process, and impressive in its high level of skill and structural backbone. The workshops unfold uniquely with every group - from pre-school to tertiary and the corporate environment. Based on the simple, but powerful facilitation of direct creative expression, they build confidence, group sensitivity, artistic inspiration and often lead to personal catharsis. From his mobile studio, soundtracks and compositions have been flowing steadily, carrying his hallmark transporting, spirited and "un-classifiable" sounds.
He meticulously builds databases of supporters, recordings, events, writings and more. This enables him to manage his own movements, grow his own audiences and distribute his products independently. Yet he has already left a strong public mark, having performed in prominent venues like the Sandton Theatre on the Square, Evita se Perron (Darling), the Dorp Street Theatre (Stellenbosch) and coming up in 2008, a run in the Kalk Bay theatre. He has participated in minor and major festivals all over South Africa and has been appointed musical director of major events, like the the South African Woman of the Year Awards Gala (Artscape Opera, Cape Town, 2001,2) and the Ukkasie Festival main event, Royal Albert Hall (London, 2004). He has appeared with and composed for prominent names like Sibongile Khumalo (soprano), Stef Bos (singer, Belgium) and Steve Hofmeyr (singer, Afrikaans) and has been profiled and interviewed a number of times on national radio and television.
Always a keen collaborator, he has standing artistic relationships with performers like Derek Gripper, (guitar), Paul Hanmer (jazz piano) and Laura Kirsten (classical piano). Others include Eric Leonardson (electronic sound-generation, Chicago), Cathleen Schandelmeier and other Chicago poets in three multi-media productions, Jan Seiden (American Indian flutes, Baltimore), Andrew Peters (township guitarist) and Sheri Brown (Bhuto dancer, Seattle). Among many projects involving music with poetry, is a collaborative album with Carina Stander, an up and coming Afrikaans poet.
His workshops have travelled widely: schools and universities (as well as prisons and mental institutions) all over South Africa; at prestigious institutions abroad, like Princeton University, Kansas University, Soka University near Los Angeles and Sahmyook University in Seoul, Korea. A well documented 3 day artist-in-residence project was run in the Niskayuna school district, New York State in 2006. Corporate engagements include Nashua Mobile, Liberty Life, LG (Korea), Akorn Destination Management (hotel Le Meurice, Paris) and JP Morgan (London). A significant affirmation of the comprehensive competencies he has developed over the years came up in May 2008: an artist-in-residence engagement (performing, giving workshops, participating and providing creative interventions) for The Prince of Wales's Business and the Environment Programme's 5th Southern African Seminar (Cape Town). For two years now, he has also been an inspiration to the select Mandela Rhodes Scholars.
The extensive travels do not prevent him from maintaining a prolific output. Since 2000, he has recorded over 800 tracks, compiled more than 60 albums, and filmed and produced over 40 video clips for the HA!Man Show. Poems and graphic art are also steadily forthcoming (the aim for 2008 is to make most of these accessible on the web, for the first time). Notable amongst live recordings are the full-hour improvisations: organ with audience participation - SABC (Johannesburg, 1999) and St George's Cathedral (Cape Town, 2000); piano - SABC (Johannesburg 1998) and Genk (Belgium, 2007). Soundtracks completed include "Prins van Pretoria" (feature film), Andrew Buckland's "Makana," Reza de Wet's "Lake," Tanya Surtees's "Gumbo" and Peter Krummeck's production of Shakespeare's Hamlet (theatre); Gary Gordon's "Tread" and Heike Gehring's "Lady Anne" (physical theatre). He has recently completed a moving soundtrack to the global-release TV documentary about the elusive "Knysna Elephants."
In the long term his aim is to maintain the independent HA! platform and to grow it into a noticeable global channel for art that is spontaneous in the deepest sense of the word. Francois believes that in many ways, such an art can contribute to humanity's walk towards maturity, facing up to the grave challenges of our current adolescence. Being based in Hogsback, South Africa, is also part of his inspiration, as he strongly believes that it is partly by reconnecting to our African roots that we'll be able to heal as a species. It is this HA! music from "bottom-up" that is felt in his performances, is promoted through all his activities and is hoped to be a long-lasting legacy.
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