Concerts, culture exchange highlight MUSON’s new horizons 2016
The weekend of April 22 through 24 will feature concerts, film screenings and symposium on and about classical and African traditional music, with local and international artistes participating. This is the new vision of MUSON Centre’s strategic thinking in strengthening Nigerian music through partnerships and exchange programmes. The centre’s Artistic Director and British-trained renaissance musician, Mr. Tunde Jegede, is spearheading this vision with his project New Horizons: New Worlds.
On April 22 at Jazzhole, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, a solo concert with Jegede will hold, with the main concert taking place the next day at MUSON Centre. It will feature three international artistes from France – Diana Baroni, described as an evocative singer and flutist rooted in classical and folk music of South America; Rafael Guel, a guitarist and multi-percussionist who embodies the essence of South American baroque and traditional music, and Simon Drappier, a French contrabasse player with specialist in jazz, folk and classical music.
Other performers are Nigeria’s Ranti Ihimoyan, a crossover singer versatile in various music genres, including folk, jazz and classical music; and, of course, with Mr. Jegede leading the pack; Olaiwola Sakara Band, specialist in Yoruba traditional music, with its goje and sakara drum as instruments, and MUSON Essemble made up of young musicians trained at MUSON Centre who are skillful players individually and as a group. On April 24 at Nigerian Film Corporation, Ikoyi, there will be free film screening with a panel discussion. Jegede, Kunle Tejuoso, Baroni and Didi Cheeka will lead the discussion on traditional and contemporary issues in music.
New Horizons: New Worlds concert series is being sponsored by Air France KLM, Institut Francais and Goethe Institut.
At a briefing last week in Lagos that had Cultural Attache at Institut Francais, Mr. Aurelien Sennacherib and MUSON Chairman, Mr. Kitoye Ibare-Akinsan, Jegede said the New Horizons concert series is not just about bringing international classical music artistes to perform in Nigeria, but about partnerships and cultural exchanges aimed at enriching and exposing local music talents to new skill sets.
According to him, “The original idea was to develop artistes on the local scene, to equip students and local talents here, but mainly those in jazz, classical and opera music with contemporary skills. Usually after graduating from MUSON, our students go to the U.S., U.K., South Africa and elsewhere to further their studies, as there are no opportunities here for them to practice. But this programme will provide them with opportunities and experiences professionally. So, it’s a platform for young artistes to develop themselves professionally. At the last concert, we had Age Beeka, Keziah Jones and others, but it was difficult to know who was a young or old artiste”.
On his part and as part sponsor of the New Horizons project, Cultural Attache at Institut Francais, Mr. Aurelien Sennacherib, expressed the desire of his institute to work with MUSON Centre to realise the cultural exchange programme as a means of strengthening relationships between Nigeria and France and between MUSON and his institute.
As he put it, “We really want to work with Tunde; it’s an opportunity of a musical exchange between Nigeria and France and students of MUSON. It’s a good partnership between our countries and institutions. It will be good to see Nigerian students come to France and help them get better and better in their profession”.
Also, General Manager, Air France KLM Nigeria and Ghana, Mr. Jean-Raol Tauzin, noted, “Air France is pleased to partner with the Musical Society of Nigeria on their efforts to celebrate a cultural and creative exchange between Nigeria and French artists through the concert series tagged New Horizons. We applaud the centre’s commitment to education and making world class art performances. We believe that sponsoring these concerts will not only afford us the opportunity to celebrate and enhance the Nigerian/French culture and music, but also give us the opportunity to participate in the development of Nigerian music industry”.
For Jegede, New Horizons is not just about concert performances but the huge opportunities that count the most. As he noted, “It’s more about the music exchange that comes with it. We had three MUSON students travel to London jazz Festival; there was another exchange, with some students travelling to Malta for the Commonwealth Heads of Government; they represented the country at a cultural level.
“The international artists – Diana Baroni, Simon Drappier and Rafael Guel – are not just coming to do concerts; they will also do workshops for music students. They will come and share and engage with our students here. Diana and the rest are not just classical musicians; they are also deep in their knowledge of music theory and practice. They have skills that are relevant to local artists here that will enrich them; they are versatile and broad and have something important culturally to say. This is a cultural exchange programme; it’s time to create that fora.
“The programme is about trying to bring international artists who will share their knowledge and skills; we’re trying to introduce new things”.
Jegede also stressed the importance of bringing traditional African folk music into the mainstream through the New Horizons initiative. Olaiwola Sakara Band is the first in this respect to get a look in.
“For me, folk music is very important,” Jegede further noted. “If you lose your traditional music you lose your essence and you’re in a much weaker position. Folk music is very unique; to us, that differentiates us. Traditional music is there, but it’s not much valued. There should be an interest in your own music, your own culture. We have our own traditional music here. Why are we not imbibing them? How do we present and preserve traditional music? That is a huge conversation that should be going on.
“So, the programme is not just about music, but a discussion of cultural space. How do we balance traditional music with contemporary music?”
Jegede lamented lack of funding that would make it possible to take the gospel of classical and traditional music education outside Lagos to other parts of the country. He said he was seeking for partnerships that would enable him extend his outreach, adding, “Partnerships and outreach are important for my work. The concerts happen here at MUSON but other places don’t get to know about them. For me that is a tragedy”.
Sennacherib was also in agreement on the need to take music education outside Lagos, saying, “We are interested in helping the culture scene of Lagos travel outside. We think about the network of artistic expressions and not only the music but other art forms as well”.
Ibare-Akinsan enjoined music lovers to keep a date with New Horizons as a new dimension to classical and traditional music performance concert not to miss.