Church Choral Regal Performances Inspired My Love For Music — Samuel
For Oluwarotimi Samuel, growing up in an Anglican family and watching the church choir treat worshippers from different backgrounds and denominations with their hymnals, discipline, regality, and coordination fuel his love with music, and this propelled him to excel at the MUSON School of Music while juggling his position as the Student President for his set.
According to him, “I was almost done with my senior secondary school education when I decided to finally join the choir. I joined because I had an interest in their costumes. I think that was one of the major things that fascinated me. Also, I liked the order, especially as there was this sense of royalty built around their performance.”
With a background and love for dance and art, he had always known he would be in the art sphere. Although he went on to study Urban and Regional Planning at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) Ogbomoso in Oyo State.
“It was not a conversation that I had the wits to have in my house. So I just had to go to school, get a degree like the normal practice, and then I could do whatever I wanted,” he said.
While getting his degree, Samuel formed a team of creatives that aided him in exploring his creative side, while writing, directing musical productions, and coaching talents. His love for classical songs was not fully fueled until he was surrounded by classical music lovers at his university, one of whom eventually advised him to study music at MUSON.
“He saw me and told me, if you want to do anything serious with your life as regards music, you have to go to MUSON,” he added. Samuel later agreed with this school of thought after passing through MUSON Music of School as he said: “If you are going to do anything serious as a singer, you need to be trained. Classical music takes a lot more than talent from you, it requires some serious training.”
Armed with the belief the MUSON School of Music was more than capable of offering the training, in between completing his URP degree in 2020 and the instability that came with his decision in 2021, Samuel went on to write the entrance exams for MUSON.
“I had to fight. That was the period when the conversation started in my house. I mean now you’re done with school – this is the normal Nigerian parent ideology – get a job and start giving back to the house, you know what it took me to raise you without your dad,” he referenced his mother’s remarks.
According to him, that conversation led to a serious argument that lasted throughout his two years diploma course sponsored by the MTN Foundation. Although his mum later came to understand his decision in his last semester, she still had reservations.
“The last two years of my life have been devoted to something; I mean that should speak volumes. So how do you not expect me to now finish two years of hard work and then now go back; it was going all out or not doing anything at all in the first place. I was determined to finish what I started,” he stated.
“When she (my mom) came for the final recital, she felt different; the energy was different. I had tears in my eyes while I was hugging her because of the words she was saying. It was very emotional for me because she was like every place you want to get to in life with this music, God will pave the way,” he added.
Regardless of the eventual acceptance and the awards he received as a result of his academic excellence, Samuel feels the real validation he needed was at his final year recital.
“It was emotional because of the number of people that came out for me and how they felt after the entire performance; the acceptability. I saw the pride in them,” he enthused.
He averred that the real validation for him was that the people who had watched him grow as an artiste, got to experience his growth; they got to see how he bodied his 30-minute song cycle while giving an outstanding rendition of a 15-minute piece in pure German whilst challenging himself to portray different emotions with pieces from Mozart, Andel and ending it with a crowd-pleasing medley of Brymo’s Orun Mooru and Meji Meji.
Samuel stated that MUSON was not only a place for him to unlearn parts of classical music he thought he knew too well; it was also a place for networking and building relationships.
“The reality is that there are different categories of people that come into MUSON. There’s a category of people who never knew about classical music and didn’t do classical music coming in at all. There’s a category of people who know classical music and have been doing it, have been taking classes, and there’s a category of people who learnt one or two things. The majority of them might be wrong, but they work, that’s where I fall into.”
Understanding his problems and not letting pride get in the way was probably one of the reasons he was chosen as the student president. According to him, he had been declining any leadership position since his first year of gaining admission into the school.
“All I said was everybody is going to have a voice, every student is part of the government, and everybody should feel responsible not just entitled, I mean to govern.”
Commenting on the challenges he faced in his first year as regards student welfare, Samuel said he wanted to make sure that it was sorted during his tenure, but it was also a hassle considering the fact that studying in the School alone was already tasking enough for a regular student, and there was even more pressure considering there was a trend in place.
“Someone literally told me that once you’re the President your recital cannot be good because you don’t have time to prepare. For me, I said I’m not sure I want to settle for this narrative. Why do I have to? I’m first, a student. If I’m not doing well academically, it makes no sense to all of you because what kind of representation am I giving out,” he said.
Rather than do all the work himself, Samuel said he made sure all the executives were responsible for their jobs and only stepped in when necessary.
“I guide my practice time jealously. I do it in a way that you can hardly disturb me because by the time you are coming to disturb me after school hours, it’s already close to business, and you have to come the next day.”
Thirteen years of curating musical experiences with influences from indigenous artistes like Ojo Ade, Yinka Ayefele, C&S Ayo Ni O choir group, Styl-Plus, 2Face, Plantashun Boiz, and many more, Samuel has found his path, and for him, the next stage of his life is all about academics and further using his expertise in the musical theatre, a venture he has already started as he has directed two major musical theatres titled Ajakubo: The Whirlwind and Mpenzi (Zulu word for Lover).
Commending MTN Foundation for the opportunity and support given to him, Samuel said; “MTN are the realest MVPs. I’m saying this because in a society where a lot of people feel like classical music is obsolete or unnecessary in its prime. Finding a brand that will stand by such music is more than just humanitarian service. They’ve chosen to identify with people in the classical sphere.
“I think thank you will not be enough because the worth of the scholarship alone, the privilege, the books, even the subsidy that we’re getting, transportation, there’s no institution in this country where you are being given transportation to study, there’s none. It’s like living the European dream in Nigeria. That’s what MTN has done to MUSON, and that’s what MTN has done for me,” he added.
He noted that MTN Foundation, in partnership with MUSON, has commenced applications for the 2023 edition of the Diploma in Music scholarship programme. “It is an opportunity for music enthusiasts to hone their skills, learn from the best and acquire quality music education like I have. You stand a chance like I did,” Samuel stated.
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