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Exploring classical music, jazz, and its African connections in new horizon

The MUSON Ensemble during their performance

The MUSON Ensemble during their performance

For about two hours last Saturday evening, the serene Agip Recital Hall of MUSON Centre resonated with a pot-pourri of classical, jazz and traditional music from contemporary Nigeria and South America.

The event was the opening day of the ongoing New Horizons: New Worlds, a monthly concert series aimed at developing talents and giving them a platform to express themselves. Conceived by the Artistic Director of the MUSON, Tunde Jegede, with the full backing of the society’s management, it began in February and ends in June.

Thrilling the audience, include Ranti Ihimoyan, an opera and crossover singer, who is versatile in various genres of music, including folk, jazz, pop and classical; Diana Baroni, a brilliant evocative singer and flutist, Raphael Guel, a guitarist and multi-percussionist who embodies the essence of South American baroque and traditional music; Simon Drappier, an exceptional French contrabass player who has worked in Jazz, Folk and Classical music both as a touring and recording artist; and Tunde Jegede a composer, producer, cellist and kora virtuoso. The music of Olayiwola Sakara Ensemble not only added colour and rhythm to the performances, but also showed the relevance of traditional music to contemporary.

The show opened with performances from Baroni, Drappier and MUSON Ensemble, conducted by Tunde Jegede. Ihimoyan, backed by the MUSON Ensemble, conducted by Jegede, serenaded the audience with her rich soprano voice, as she sang George Frederick Handel’s The Messiah and I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.

The performances took an evocative, traditional note as Olayiwola Sakara Ensemble mounted the stage. Kate Aluko, Wura Samba, Imole Balogun, Olaiwola Sakara and MUSON Ensemble also wowed the audience with breathtaking performances.

The highpoint of the night was when Aluko, Samba, and the Ensemble performed Hill of Solitude Valley of Festivity and Heat Haze, composed by Tunde Jegede; climaxing with performances by Diana Baroni, Raphael Guel, Simon Drappier, Tunde Jegede, Wura Samba and MUSON Ensemble.
There was equally a film screening and panel discussion at Nigerian Film Corporation, Ikoyi. Jegede, Kunle Tejuoso, Baroni and Didi Cheeka led the interactive discussion on traditional and contemporary issues in music.

New Horizon, Jegede said, “is aimed at enriching and exposing local music talents to new skill; it is about the role and function of music and the arts in society. It’s about education, exchange and empowerment and bringing people together from different stratas of society. It is about the development and advancement of young gifted musicians through creative, cultural and musical exchange. It is a place of art, ambition and creativity.”

He added that New Horizon brings a new consciousness to the arts through a series of concerts, screenings, symposium and discussions.
“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,” Jegede said.

He continued, “New Horizons: New Worlds is a unique cultural and musical exchange, and one that celebrates the rich heritage of Nigeria. It takes us on a journey from the classical world of the baroque to the traditional music of contemporary Nigeria and South America. New Horizons is all about creating a forum for alternative arts and expression to a wider audience.“It brings a new consciousness to the arts through a series of concerts, screenings, symposium and discussions.

Based at MUSON, Nigeria’s premiere music institution, it brings together some of the most talented students of the MUSON school of music to perform alongside some of the finest musicians on the international and local scene. New Horizons has initiated exchanges and partnerships with the London Jazz Festival, Goethe-Institut, Institut Français, British Council, Lagos Film Society, Jazzhole, Miliki and has been featured on BBC and CNN”.

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