Botswana On My Mind – Lindsay Feldmeth

I’ve started to dream about Africa.

In April, I’ll be launching an opera festival in the heart of Botswana. That’s my new year’s resolution for 2013! But organizing a festival takes a lot of mental energy. I think about it constantly. I talk about it. I even dream about it. I have Botswana on the brain, and I haven’t even been there yet.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Opera Festival ( was inspired by a talented group of opera singers in Gaborone, Botswana. These dynamic singers are doing exciting work and producing some very original opera. But it’s hard to sustain an opera company in Southern Africa, and due to financial problems, they have just lost their opera house.

Our festival will put these singers back in the spotlight, performing opera scenes on the biggest stages of Gaborone! Along with my team (the award-winning pianist, Bogdan Dulu, and the star mezzo-soprano Nandani Maria Sinha), I will be performing concerts and teaching workshops for the singers. The goal of the festival is to equip and inspire emerging artists in Southern Africa while bringing attention to women’s issues through musical performance. We are also hoping to make a movie about the project, to help these singers get more international
attention. If you would like to make a small donation, we would be so grateful:

We will also have the privilege of working with some AIDS orphans in Gaborone, and giving them a music workshop. This was an unexpected opportunity that suddenly presented itself a few weeks ago. One of the most important things that I learned in 2012 is that it’s impossible to predict how things are going to happen! Things just don’t go according to plan. It’s hard for overachievers to accept, but there are circumstances beyond our control. And that’s not such a bad thing.

For example, one of my biggest struggles has been to believe that there is enough time to do everything I really need to do. I have three months before I get on that plane, but I already feel like I’m racing against the clock. My to-do list is several miles long! But I don’t want to live in a state of anxiety because it’s not good for my music. I can’t sing like that. So I’m experimenting with the radical idea that there really is enough time. At least for the important things. And that gives me the freedom to have fun with this project!

After all, this festival has its own crazy timing. It grows in fits and starts. Some things have fallen into place easily, like magic. And other things have come very slowly. There is a lot of waiting in this process: waiting for paperwork, waiting for emails, waiting for sponsors.

But sometimes something wonderful happens… unexpectedly. Just before Christmas, I was feeling discouraged because I wasn’t having much luck with fundraising. I didn’t even have the money to buy our plane tickets. And then I found out we had won a travel grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP)! The very next day, a generous friend provided a matching donation to the grant that we won! Within 24 hours, we had raised more than enough money to fly all of our musicians to Africa. What a beautiful Christmas present!

Big dreams are pretty powerful. They really get inside your head. Happy New Year, everybody!

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