Landscapes of Africa: Music for Orchestra
Fanfare for Orchestra
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 brought untold devastation and human suffering to many people in southern United States, including my family. With thousands of pages of sheet music destroyed and hundreds of tapes from over 25 years of field research across Africa damaged by the flood, the challenges seemed insurmountable for us. But help poured in from around the world. Friends, musical colleagues and total strangers traveled long distances to help us rebuild in New Orleans. Many enthusiastic volunteers offered to help salvage and transcribe music manuscripts and other media. Out of the rubbles of the hurricanes, we found the mangled scores of the pieces you’ll hear on this CD. We also found other composition sketches in various stages of completion. The joy of this discovery opened vast creative wells from which the newer pieces were composed. Fanfare for Orchestra takes after the Ukere and Iju warrior dances that fascinated me among the Urhobo people of Nigeria. Yarinya, the second movement from my first Suite for String Orchestra, was inspired by an old Hausa story of a beautiful lady. Landscapes of Africa is a concerto for flutes and piccolo commissioned for Wendy Hymes by the Brannen Cooper Brothers Fund. Beethoven Returns to Africa is the first movement from the first Suite for String Orchestra. Ogiribo (Urhobo word for "storm") came from my second Suite. Meditation for Darfur drew emotional blood from me as I pondered the untold carnage and human suffering in the Sudan that never made the headlines in our various news media. Barka recaptures my travels around North and North West Africa, and is based on a Foula tune I learned from my artistic assistant, Ablawa Reine. In Rhapsody, Nketia’s "Republic Suite" was appropriate jubilation for Ghana’s 50th Independence Celebration. Domenshigbe tells the story of two messengers at a market square. Dance Tribute, my first piece for chamber groups was first performed in 1987, with Ajibola Mesida of Nigeria and me on violins and Vincent Richter of Ghana on piano. This version for orchestra was first performed by the Principia College Instrumental Ensemble of Elsah, Illinois, and conducted by Marie Garritson Jureit. Each piece evokes its own measure of joy and emotions. You will enjoy this CD, but more than that, I hope it encourages orchestras and chamber groups to seek out compositions by Africans. From Halim El-Dabh of Egypt to Kwabena Nketia and Gyimah Labi of Ghana, or Fela Sowande and Akin Euba and Joshua Uzoigwe of Nigeria to Justinian Tamuzusa of Uganda and Bongani Ndondana of South Africa, and many more, Africa portends a new voice for orchestras and chamber music groups around the world.
- Fred Onovwerosuoke, New Orleans, USA. 2007
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