Arts  

Artists, producers set to dazzle at 2018 MUSON Festival

Uphopho

The publisher of The Guardian, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru, will headline the 2018 My Kind of Music section of this year’s Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Festival of Arts, which holds tomorrow.

The other high networth personalities and celebrities on the programme are, founder of Lights! Camera! Action!, Mrs. Ugoma Adegoke; founder of Lagos Jazz Series, Oti Bazunu and Secretary, Board of Trustees, MUSON, Mr. Adeyemi Akinsanya.

During the programme, the four eminent citizens will take guests on a musical journey through their memories, experiences and life philosophies.

The 22nd MUSON Festival begins today with two major events, a youth concert tagged, MusicQuest and the festival exhibition tagged, Music Meets Art. The art show, which is in partnership with the Society of Nigerian Artists, ends on October 28. The MusicQuest is a platform to showcase and encourage young talents.

The third day sees Legend… A Musical, lined up. It is produced courtesy of a partnership with Seeing Through the Art and De Classical. The event holds first weekend of the festival (October 19 to 21).

Legend tells the stories of some selected African legends and kingdoms through music and dance.

Also billed for the first weekend is Danjuma Festival Opera. The opera is Don Giovanni by Mozart. It is based on the legends of Don Juan, a fictional libertine and seducer. It was premiered by the Prague Italian opera at the National Theatre of Bohemia, now called the Estates Theatre, on October 29, 1787.

There will be dinner and art auction on October 24 and another concert in partnership with friends of Azerbaijan tagged, Quand L’est Recontre L’ouest (When East Meets West).

MUSON Day is October 25. MUSON Chamber Orchestra will supply music on that day. There will also be cocktail and awards. Festival Jazz Party on October 26 and Chevron Festival Drama will follow on October 27. Kenneth Uphopho of PAWStudios directs the drama titled, Such is Life by Femi Osofisan.

The grand finale is October 28. Billed to hold that day is Total Festival Gala Concert. The MUSON Choir, MUSON Chamber Orchestra and the MUSON Junior Choir will perform on that day.

Speaking with The Guardian, some of the event producers and artists expressed readiness to impress in an unprecedented way in the history of the yearly feast of creative ideas.

For the director of Chevron Festival Drama, Kenneth Uphopho (PAWSTUDIO), “we have been working tirelessly and the actors are ready to wow the audience come Saturday, October 27.”

The ace director and festival manager said: “In terms of interpretation, this drama piece is a special one and I think the audience is in for a huge treat. Originally written as Midnight Blackout, a musical play, what we have done with it is to have taken it a step further by adapting some of the situations to suit the modern times, taking into cognisance that, it is an election year and all of that fully represented. We are so happy to be part of the MUSON festival. Going forward, we hope this play can start a new generation of artists and actors forming a new part, interpreting the works of literary masters like Femi Osofisan. I want the audience to keep an open mind, the drama is engaging and second thing is the space we are going to inject into the comedy, it will be fascinating and there wouldn’t be any moment for the audience to go to their phones. We are trying very hard to ensure the audience is fully engaged for the 70 to 75 minutes the play will be on.”

Adapted from its original musical form, Such if Life is written by Osofisan and will parade some of the best homegrown artists such as, Patrick Diabuah, Gloria Anozie Young, Friday Francis, Omololu Shodiya, Bunmi Sogade and other amazing cast and crew members.

Billura Bayramova-Bernard, chairperson, Friends of Azerbaijan Organisation, who has been resident in Nigeria for the past five years, meeting with Nigerians of all social strata.

Billura, who has come to fall in love with the rich Nigerian cultural landscape, will be flying in two popular musicians from Azerbaijan to feature in Quand L’est Rencontre L’ouest.

The expected foreign artists include, the female pianist, Saida Zulfugarova and the eminent Azerbaijani Tar player, Sahib Pashazade.
 
The aim of my organisation, she said, “is to bring cultures and people from different countries together in creating a sort of cultural exchange ambience; developing cultural relations amongst different countries of the world. Saidi comes from one of the finest families of musicians who literally have music running in their veins. As some of her uncles are composers, she has it in her blood. We are glad she will be coming to Nigeria to perform in this concert. She is happy to come to Nigeria and it will be her second time.”

She added, “Sahib is the founder of Artists of Azerbaijan. One of the most talented musicians in the country who travels around the world, he plays the Tar; an ancient Azerbaijani musical instrument. According to its technical and dynamic capabilities, the contemporary Tar is considered to be the most improved of the Azerbaijani string instruments. Certainly, he will be dishing out his best at the festival. It is going to be a grand event and I expect the hall to be full because, it is an interesting concert that will appeal to both Nigerians and the expatriate community. I expect people to throng the venue to have an unforgettable encounter. The aim is to promote the MUSON Centre within the expatriate community in Nigeria.”  
 
One of the lead actors in the musical play (LEGENDS), Tosin Adeyemi, is saddled with the role of Queen Amina of Zazzau. She sees the festival as a fantastic prospect to add mileage to her flourishing career and eagerly looks forward to getting down to business.

“It has been very exciting indeed, considering the different knowledge at the rehearsal ground,” she began: “It brings a whole new level of delight and fresh career challenges that I am relishing as a promising star actor. At the moment, I am absorbing my role as a Queen from the present day Zaria; north-central Nigeria.”

Queen Amina was an extraordinarily bold and beautiful woman who wouldn’t condone nonsense. She ruled over men and women and because of her, Zaria flourished.  

Adeyemi said, “as a woman in our present day society, personally, I see her as a role model. Women should be able to stand up for whatever they want. I wouldn’t say her reign was bloodless but as a woman coming from such a male dominated background, as a woman in her era, she stood tall and ruled as an iconic Queen. She was a warrior and warriors have a very precise movement, prim and proper and sticking to certain mannerism. I am looking forward to thrilling the audience.”

Mojisola Quadri, one of the lead actors in the Legends, plays the role of Queen mother, Nana Yaa Asantewaa. She has dubbed the responsibility as one of the best things to happen to her blossoming profession in recent times.

Asantewaa is a Ghanaian warrior who she sees as an exemplar of the true essence of feminism as currently advocated
 
She affirmed that Queen Nana Yaa Asantewaa (in Ghanaian accent) is essentially a feminist and represents all its tenets that are still relevant in our contemporary world.

“She stood in the midst of men and told them that they are cowards. She went to war with fellow women, fought and conquered kingdoms and the marauding colonizers.  I look forward to playing this amazing role and making positive impact in emboldening the modern woman and young ladies alike on the possibilities of exploring their inner strength and abilities to conquer whatever obstacle that comes their ways,” Quadri said.

In her evaluation of how the yearly festival has influenced students and alumni members of the school and vice versa, the Director of the MUSON School of Music, Princess Banke Ademola, said: “When you are searching for new talents and you bring them into the open, it is bound to affect the festival because you want to know the kind of standard these talents will exude. This year, we have about eight finalists for the Musiquest and when you hear them sing, you will realise that God has really imbued them with great talent.”

Ademola continued, “the MUSON Day will also have a share of their sterling performances. These are students from the MUSON School of Music and you will see the products of the school, what they are doing with their lives right now. The school too has contributed to the festival in positive ways. The Musiquest participants, in years to come, you will see that the school has contributed not only to the MUSON but has enriched the country in general. Many of them have gone out beyond MUSON and Nigeria and have emblazoned the name of MUSON on the world stage.”

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