“As a creative musician i feel that our epoch demands a reconnection with that which flows from within. Spontaneous artistic expression (what i call HA!) is more than just therapy, more than a side show of little consequence. It is a re-invigorater of all established traditions and is key in making art directional in times of fundamental change.”

HA!ManFrancois le Roux, a.k.a. the HA!Man enchants and astonish audiences the world over with his cello, original electronic accompaniments, keyboard, voice and dances. His music reflects his Southern African roots and his spontaneous approach challenges conventional ideas in both the serious and commercial music environment. He has created numerous soundtracks for plays, films and poetry performances and his talents brought him distinguished appointments such as music direction for the South African National Woman of the Year Gala (2001, 2002) and the 2004 “Ukkasie” Festival’s Royal Albert Hall event in London. Touted as one of South Africa’s top musical talents and a groundbreaking cellist/music creator, he operates independently, traveling about 70 000 km a year by car. He coined the term HA! to express the spirited way in which he conducts his performances.

A formal background gave way to a career starting with spontaneous cello street performing, followed by an experimental stint of four years, backpacking through South Africa and exploring various other forms of expression. He is currently managing a full schedule of performances, workshops and creative projects, keeping in touch with an extensive database of contacts through his newsletters and web site (www.hamanworld.com). His profile in South Africa has recently been lifted by major articles in both the Rapport and Sunday Times (biggest weekly papers) and a television profile broadcast on Kyknet’s popular arts programme “Kwela.”

Veteran critic Colin Lang summed up the HA!Man experience as such: “Overall, the very fresh sound of original melodic invention and pulsing rhythms is utterly absorbing, as is his attractive and expressive body language and voice. His personality comes across as one that is profoundly thoughtful, musically lucid and thorough and showing sustained love of all creativity.”

Francois began as a classically trained cellist and pianist, but started to improvise at the piano at age three, serving as a church organist at age ten and composing his first orchestral work at thirteen. His creativity also expanded to other mediums and a poem he wrote at 16 was used as a central sample of creativity amongst the youth in a doctoral thesis at the University of Johannesburg. After studies in philosophy and theology, he left the formal environment to become the “HA!Man,” fully devoting his time and career to the development of spontaneous expression as an art form, a life philosophy and a way of restoring vitality in music. Over the last two decades, this path took him all over South Africa and then all over the world as he played and workshopped his way from person to person, audience to audience and place to place. It is difficult to categorize his way and his musical style – which incorporates strong elements of classical styles, african music and modern genres. His performances are never in a set order and he thrives on making art of the moment, impulses given by the audience or simply the feelings born from silences. His cello forms the centre of a stage setup with electronic accompaniments, keyboard playing, dances and conversation. Each performance becomes a spontaneous creation in itself as all these elements weave into a whole that moves and bring audiences to their feet from all walks of life.

He maintains a keen interest in world and human affairs, having been shaped by the momentous changes in South Africa through the 80’s and 90’s Much of his work grapples with the relation – and the formation of relation – between right and left brain dimensions, chaos and order, Africa and Europe, nature and civilization and instinct and rationality. “HA!” actually invokes the “third dimension” of feeling which is born from the dynamic meeting point between these various opposites. In his workshops, this is facilitated so that participants discover the origins of creativity within themselves and within the flowing moment. His web site gives an account of the many types of venues he has performed in, distinguished appointments, commissions and residencies and various collaborations in different parts of the world. Self-managed, he maintains a unique space of artistic vitality in a world dominated by expedience and the pressure to commercialize. His poetry is largely undiscovered. These are likewise spontaneous flows of words, without or with meaning, reflecting a life of intense experience and a will to grow past our global adolescence. Visit www.hamanworld.com.

Art of Sound Projects:

Art of Sound - Migrations Sensed Title: Migrations Sensed

Artist: Audri Phillips

Musician: Ha!Man

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