©St. Louis African Chorus, June 2003. All rights reserved.

News Tidbits

Nairobi, Kenya:
The Kenya Cultural Music Festival came to an end yesterday (Dec. 11, 2003) with a big bang! The finalist concert included dances, cultural displays and choral performances drawn from the 42 different ethnic tribes of Kenya. As with previous years participating groups came from private and public companies, churches, thaetre groups, cultural dance groups, etc. There was some Western music, with presentations at the piano, brass, and vocal selections. We also had a performance from the Indian community in Kenya too. A wide range of African instruments also featured this year, and it was quite educational for our urban youth to watch, listen, and to appreciate the skills of the performer. Blasto Ooko, the famed Orutu (a 1-stringed fiddle) player gave a most incredible presentation. People were astounded to hear all their common folk tunes performed on this single-stringed instrument was able to play many common tunes, and of course, the audience sang heartily with Blasto most of the time! There was rich poetry and short plays in both local languages and in English. In this category storytelling captivated the audience the most, as crafty storytellers kept everyone at the edge of their seats. Outside the performing halls there were exhibitions on Kenya’s lifestyles, fashion, and cuisine. The Guest of honour, Prof.Wangari Mathai gave a very encouraging speech on the government’s intent to maintain cultural programming in its budget. She said she would work hard to ensure that local artists make a modest living from their work. The Chairman of the festival, Hon.Boniface Mganga also gave a very encouraging speech. He asked artists not to give up, reminding them that they now have a voice in Parliament. Mr. Mganga, founding director of the famed Muungano National Choir, pointed out key issues on how culture can be promoted not only in Kenya but also in Africa at large. “Music has the capacity to transmit messages far and deep across the world,” he said.

- Joseph Muyale Inzai.

St. Louis, MO:

The St. Louis African Chorus begins a new series called African Choral Odyssey Series. The African Choral Odyssey Series is a mosaic of vibrant choral music from diverse regions of Africa, and has been designed to educate the public about the diversity of African choral music. Audiences will experience world-class entertainment, and in the process be enriched in the nature and diversity of African choral music. Events scheduled in the dances of southern Africa, and The Boys Choir of Kenya. Upcoming concerts and ticket information online at www.africanchorus.org/Calendar.htm.  

Kansas City, MO:
The date is October 22-24, and the magnificent campus of Park University, Parkville. The Festival of African & African-American Music returns to Missouri. See page 6 for details.

Spokane, WA:
Senku: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent by William Chapman Nyaho. The selections recorded on this CD show an influence of both African and Western cultures. The African elements may manifest themselves on a melodic, harmonic and rhythmic level, whereas the structure of the work may be more easily identified as Western. Senku contains compositions by Joshua Uzoigwe (NIGERIA,1946-), Oswald Russell (JAMAICA, 1939-),Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (USA,1932-), Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (ENGLAND, 1875-1912), Margaret Bonds (USA) (1913-1972), Gamal Abdel-Rahim (EGYPT) (1924-1988), Robert Nathaniel Dett (USA, 1882-1943), Gyimah Labi (GHANA,1950-). Senku is available from MSR Classics. You may also order online from http://www.nyaho.com/senku.htm.

New Orleans, LA:
Since June 1996 African Chorus has held camps, workshops and other interactive arts events across North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Instructors from Uganda, Liberia, Kenya, the Congos, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Guinea, Gambia, Namibia, South Africa, Egypt, and other parts of Africa have participated. Each event has attracted its own following to the African Chorus Project. Most choral directors in the United States and Europe are now programming African music with increased confidence. More sheet music is being engraved and made available to the public. New social bridges are being developed across racial, ethnic and religious lines.

Schedule an African Choral Music Camp or Workshop in your area today. At each session students and teachers rehearse daily under the expert leadership of a renowned African choral director. Emphasis is on choral music, but there’s also some instruction on instrumental accompaniment, choreography, dance, gesturing, and other performance practices. At the end of each workshop or camp participants give a concert or more, depending on the volume of repertoire mastered. New friendships and bonds are formed. There’s usually a large selection of sheet music to purchase and to build a repertoire of African choral music. This season instructors are expected from Kenya, the Congo, Nigeria, Botswana, Benin Republic, among others. Each event is tailored to meet the need of the presenter, and all activities encourage multigenerational and multiracial participation.

The African Choral Music Camps & Workshops® is now administered by the New Orleans African Chorus. To schedule an event in your area call 504-813-1443 or email workshops@africanchorus.org.

Washington, D.C:
The USA pipe organ radio show Pipe Dreams played selections from the Spiritual Fantasy album in February. You can listen to it online at
Pipedreams”http://www.pipedreams.org/listings/shows02_02.htm>Pipedreams.  This was another momentous occasion for organist Lucius Weathersby, and flutist Wendy Hymes on the CD. Recorded at the 1864 Willis Organ at St. Michael & All Angels Church, Great Torrington, Devon, England, the CD (Albany CD-4409) is available in stores and at www.albanyrecords.com


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