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MUSON holds tribute concert for James Adekunle


A tribute performance to the late Pa James Adekunle

Recently, a concert was held for a fallen iroko, Mr. James Adekunle. He died on January 20, 2019, aged 89 years.

Adekunle was a music teacher, administrator, orator and humourist. He lived and breathed music and had much to do with the development of the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Centre. He was the centre’s first music administrator (1989).

The night was nostalgic, as MUSON staged a tribute concert in his honour. In his lifetime he had always been a colourful man, and he spent a very long span (over 50 years of his life) in musical education and broadcasting. He was a mentor to numerous musical students and performers.


A proof of his musical pedigree is to be found in the fact that he was the master of music in the prestigious secondary school, King’s College, Lagos, from 1963 to 1973.

Various artistic groups performed including, the Diploma Choir of the MUSON School of music. The music rendered was mainly sad in tenor, reflective of the mood of regret experienced at the departure of any loved one. That’s why one of David Pepper pieces, titled, Requiem for 3 cellos, was played.

A requiem is a piece of music celebrated in remembrance of someone who recently died. Seyi Ajibade (piano), Jude Olabanji (Cello 1), Boluwatife Akintunde (Cello 2) and John Ayorinde (Cello 3) played the requiem. The music emanating from this group was sad (yet sweet). The motif (melody) was alternated expertly between the three cellos and the piano.

Thereafter, the MUSON Diploma Choir mounted the stage. The choir consists of MUSON School students, who are on a two-year scholarship programme funded completely by MTN Foundation. The students are trained in various instruments such as voice, violin, cello, guitar and trumpet.

The choir rendered excerpts from Faure’s Requiem (Georges Faure was a French composer, organist and one of the most influential figures of the musical renaissance). This choir, with Sir Emeka Nwokedi as conductor, performed the pieces, Kyrie Eleison, Pie Jesu, Sanctus, In Paradisum, Libera me, etc.

The stage was later taken over by Seun Jacobs (organ), who rendered the piece, Flute of Grace, Hymn to Freedom by Mons Leidvin Takle.


The melody of this piece was catchy, but it still retained the sad quality of a dirge (a song for the dead). It was a song of farewell and was loud and boisterous in places. It lent itself into aggressive chromatic passages and veered into jazz-like progressions, which in some places were quite dissonant. In this piece, Jacobs exhibited a complete mastery of the organ.

A prominent rendition in the concert was when the Assistant Conductor of the MUSON Orchestra, Mr. Tunde Sosan, rendered a piece he had composed specially for the memory of Mr. Adekunle, which he titled, Adekunle.

During the concert, Mr. Kitoyi Ibare-Akinsan, chairman of MUSON’s Artists and Programmed Committee, rendered a composition on his trumpet, which was laudable and flawless.

And by playing this piece, Ibare-Akinsan was able to show that he practices what he preaches.

The musical concert was interspersed by tributes on Adekunle’s life by those who knew him best such as Princess Banke Ademola, Mrs. Marion Akpata, Mrs. Edna Soyanwo and Mr. Yemi Akisanya.

These tributes to Adekunle painted a portrait of a man who always kept to time for all appointments. It painted a portrait of a disciplined man as well as a disciplinarian. It painted the portrait of a man of humour, a jovial man, and a man well versed in the use of the English language. A man, whose first love was teaching and high standards, who did not suffer fools gladly.

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