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Musical theatre, drama offerings to enrich MUSON Festival’s 20th anniversary


MUSON Trustee, Chief (Mrs.) Francesca Emanuel; Vice Chairman, Mr. Louis Mbanefo; trustee, Chief Adeniyi Williams; musical theatre director, Mr. Ayo Ajayi and drama director, Mr. Ben Tomoloju at the briefing last week… in Lagos

MUSON Trustee, Chief (Mrs.) Francesca Emanuel; Vice Chairman, Mr. Louis Mbanefo; trustee, Chief Adeniyi Williams; musical theatre director, Mr. Ayo Ajayi and drama director, Mr. Ben Tomoloju at the briefing last week… in Lagos

Innovation, creativity and responding to the changing times are the defining hallmarks of any forward-looking enterprise in today’s ever-dynamic world. One culture centre living up to these billings is Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON). This became evident at the unveiling of its rich offerings for its 2016 festival scheduled for October 14 through 30, 2016, last week in Lagos.

Two new programmes that will thrill lovers of the performance arts in the line up include a musical theatre, Fela: Arrest the Music, and a play, J.P. Clark’s The Wives Revolt. They two theatre offerings will be directed by Mr. Ayo Ajayi (music director for Saro and Wakaa) and Mr. Ben Tomoloju (author of the plays, Jankariwo and Mujemuje) respectively.

Fela… Arrest the Music fits into the dramatic interest of Nigeria’s theatre-lovers, especially following the successful outings of Mrs. Bolanle Austin-Peters’ Saro and particularly Wakaa and Uche Nwokedi’s Kakadu that drew large crowds in Lagos. Wakaa was recently staged in London West End to confirm the global rating of the country’s emerging musical theatre tradition.

Vice Chairman of MUSON Centre, Mr. Louis Mbanefo went memory lane in tracing the beginning of MUSON Festival. According to him, “The MUSON Festival is 20 years old! In the same way that the founders of MUSON never dreamt that their modest aspirations to create an avenue for the enjoyment of classical music would blossom into a highly successful organisation, I never dreamt that the experiment of staging a festival in 1997 (during my Chairmanship of MUSON) would lead to 20 consecutive years of highly successful festivals! Indeed, the annual festival has become the major item in the MUSON Calendar”.

Mbanefo praised the persistent spirit that has sustained the culture centre and the festival in the past 20 years, adding, “From an idea some fourteen years ago of a modest society set up to organise concerts, it has grown into a centre of musical excellence, a rallying-point for the realisation of artistic dreams and a socio-cultural venue. Whilst the main focus of the society is on the promotion of the enjoyment and understanding of classical music, any activity, which would tend to promote the society itself must be a necessary concomitant.

“That is the rationale for the inclusion within our programme of a wide range of events from drama presentation and art exhibition to traditional music and dance. Even those who profess no particular affinity with classical music should feel at home and find something of interest in the Festival. For in the final analysis, MUSON exists as a heritage for all Nigerians”.

Also, MUSON Festival Planning Committee 2016 chairman, Mr. Kitoyi Ibare-Akinsan, said the festival, which started 20 years ago in 1997, has broadened it scope to include a gamut of artistic activities for all category of art lovers.

He stated the objectives to include using the performing arts to increase the number and extend the scope of interest of MUSON’s membership, create more public awareness of MUSON’s objectives and activities and promote the MUSON Centre as a veritable centre for the arts in Nigeria. The scope of the festival has, over the years, included classical music, jazz, drama, poetry, visual arts exhibition, Nigerian Youth Talent Competition and concert, Nigerian traditional music and dance and choral music and opera.

“In our continued search for new ways of ensuring the survival and continued growth of the Festival”, Ibare-Akinsan noted, “We have embarked on a policy of inviting outstanding Nigerian stakeholders in the visual and performing arts to collaborate as partners by contributing their events to the festival programme.  The objectives are to give deserving recognition to such stakeholders, broaden the festival’s appeal and share the increasingly heavy burden of operating alone”.

In this regard, Treasure House Limited will present a visual arts exhibition, Declassical Music Fela… Arrest the Music, SPAN a dance concert, Block 13 and workshop, Ice Nweke Pincode and Efe Paul AzinoPoetry & Music Concert, Lagos International Poetry Festival.

Other events are ‘My Kind of Music’ featuring
Banke Ademola, Ifeoma Fafunwa, Benson Idonije and Yemisi Shyllon on October 20, Chevron-sponsored festival drama, The Wives Revolt by JP Clark on October 22, Total-sponsored festival opera, The Bartered Bride by Bedrich Smetana on October 23, MUSON Day Concert and Cocktails on October 25, Musiquest/Youth Concert on October 26, Jazz Night on October 28 and Classical Concert featuring MUSON Orchestra conducted by Walter-Michael Vollhardt onOctober 30.
hairman, 20th Festival Planning Committee

In this article:
FelaLouis MbanefoMUSON
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