An evening with Kien and Friends at MUSON Centre
Last Saturday, April 27, 2019, the prestigious Agip Recital Hall, MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos, was where to be for music aficionados, as children treated guests to the best of classical music.Titled, Kien and Friends Concert, the event, which first held in 2013, attracted a host of polished and urbane guests. In fact, by 3.00p.m., the foyer of the Agip Hall was already filled with lovers of classical music, who had finger-licking moments, which the organisers provided in abundance.
Later, guests moved into the hall and performers came to the stage after Prof. Barclays Ayakoroma, former Executive Secretary/CEO, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) had given the keynote. The evening was relaxing, as guests listened to the languid and quirky, drifting across the ear and subtly challenging preconceptions about musical form with artful simplicity.
Classical music offers something on a large scale, which not many art forms do — something as big as where over 100 people play pieces that can last half an hour or more. These pieces offer an experience of time you don’t get in many other art forms; music that starts in one place and finishes in another, bathing your ears in big sounds along the way. The concert was a short journey, which succeeded in adding to the palate, as guests choose from the smorgasbord of the Western canon.
Though the programme listed unfamiliar names, it was obvious Kiendigi Doibo (Kien) was star of the evening. Kien opened the performance in a violin duet with Theophilus Okang. They performed Twin brothers by Coreli. The main difference between a ‘violin duo’ and a ‘violin duet’ is that the former is for two solo ‘violins’ only and the latter has added accompaniment, usually an orchestra or continuo. The ‘violin duet’ or double ‘violin’ concerto repertory is relatively small, but that doesn’t make these pieces minor.
The next act were Damilare Ojekele on saxophone accompanied by Adeosun. They performed A Kwela for Caitlin by Richard Michael.
A Kwela For Caitlin is a grade 4, classical piano piece composed in 2018. Kwela is a penny whistle-based street music from Southern Africa that evolved from Marabi music. This music brought South African music to the international arena in the 1950s. It became popular in Africa as the penny whistle was cheap and portable, and was easily learned due to the prevalence of flute instruments popular in traditional folk music. Kwela has a distinctive, skiffle-like beat with jazz derivatives and was popularised by artistes such as, Spokes Mashiyane, Donald Kachamba and Aaron ‘Big Voice Jack’
Ojekele and Adeosun also performed Nocturne by Alan Haughton. Haughton’s pieces are specially arranged for the young and beginners working towards grade 4 standard. Nocturne is easily arranged for piano or keyboard. Kien returned to perform Robert Schumann’s Frohlicher Landmann, a short piece with a waltz rhythm. It is one of the pieces in Album for the young op. 68 composed in 1848 for his three daughters. The album consists of 43 short works. They are suitable to be played by children and beginners.
Ebunoluwa Olaopa, who performed two piano pieces: The Reef No. 5 from the southern seas and Holiday in Paris by Walter Carroll and William Gillock, went on stage before Kien. Kien like the dominant in a major scale, returned with Okang in a four-hand duet on the piano.
They performed Johann Strauss’ An der Schonen Blasen Donau – an emotionally laden piece, full of ‘sunshine’, evoking happiness and nostalgia at the same time. When God’s Abundance Chiadika took the stage, he did four pieces: Chanson’ de matin (Morning Song), op. 15 No.2, by Edward Elgar; Sonatina in A minor by George Benda; German Dance in B flat No. 06 by Ludwig Van Beethoven and Rondo by Anthon Andre.
The morning song actually evoked feelings of freshness. It was cool and calm, while the Sonatina in A minor turned out to be hot, loud and fast in contrast to the morning song. Kien (on violin) and Okang took the stage again as they did J.F Mazas’ Pranks before Feranmi Olaitan on his clarinet, accompanied by Adeosun, went on a marathon of hymnals, all of which connected with the audience as familiar church songs. Olaitan sang with his clarinet: Great is thy faithfulness, O God our help in ages past, Old rugged cross and Jolly Good Fellow.
As one of the most spectacular performances of the evening, Adetoke Adeosun (violin) and her father, Adeosun (on the piano) did the only traditional song of the evening — Iseoluwa, a traditional Yoruba praise song. True to African songs, the danceable Iseoluwa would have brought the audience up on their feet. Kien (on violin) and Okang (on piano) doing Take Five by Paul Desmond appeared to have introduced perhaps the youngest performer in the concert, Owoturufa Taisosa, who did violin pieces, May Song (folk), Go tell Aunty Rhody (folk); Ecossaise by Beethoven; Elenke (a Bulgarian traditional song) and My Invention by Nancy & Randal Faber.
Kien and Okang returned again to perform Grand after the scotch humour by Nichol Matteis (piano and violin) and At the race by Pleyel (two violins). The duet with two violins by Kien and Okang turned out to be the proverbial best wine, which was reserved for the end of the event.
The music, At the race, was actually a race between Kien and Okang — to the end of a wonderful evening of classical music performances.Mrs. Albertine Doibo, mother of Kien and convener of the Kien and Friends yearly classical music concert, said every edition has been an improvement on the previous in terms of presentation.
According to the lady, “the quality of music played has improved a lot. There is some kind of upward progression in the performances.”
Doibo said it was the lack of meanings and messages in what is called popular music nowadays that inspired the initiative.“There is too much noise and shouting (in pop music of today) and that made me to look back at where I was coming from when I was growing up. My father used to have the LPs (Long Plates) of classical music records. So, I decided to go back to that.”
She said if children have no opportunity to exhibit their talents after learning songs and practicing, they may be discouraged. “It is like a reward to the children for their efforts and perseverance.”
Doibo said the concert has been her yearly Christmas giveback to society. “Last year we couldn’t get enough kids to perform, so we moved it to Easter.”She appealed that more people should come to see the children perform as well as for more children to come and perform. She said whoever finds it his or her heart to support the concert in anyway can do so. “But what is more important to me is that more children should practice and come and perform.”