The 2022 edition of the African Concert Series started on a high note on Tuesday 25th January at the October Gallery in Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AL. The concert of piano music by Rebeca Omordia, founder and curator of the series, was brilliant as an event showcasing items from her second CD, ‘AFRICAN PIANISM’ newly released on SOMM Recordings.
Pieces played included Ayo Bankole (Egun Variations); Christian Onyeji (Ufie, Igbo dance for piano); J. H. Kwabena Nketia (African Pianism: Pedagogical Pieces “Volta Fantasy”); Nabil Benabdeljalil (Nocturne no.4 & Nocturne no.6) and David Earl’s Scenes from a South African Childhood (Princess Rainbow).
With the last two pieces, Abdelkader Saadoun, renowned percussionist and master of RAI music (fusion of traditional Algerian and music from myriad cultures) joined Rebeca Omordia at the performance of Akin Euba’s ‘Yoruba Songs Without Words: Ore Meta’ for piano and percussion and Nabil Benabdeljalil’s ‘En attente du printemps for piano and percussion.’
During the Question-and-Answer session which followed the concert, Ms Omordia told her audience how the project has evolved from pioneering a renaissance of African art music to fostering education across the continent’s abundantly rich cultures. Such efforts, she affirmed, have contributed significantly to bringing members of the communities together to bond and celebrate their heritage. While highlighting the joys and challenges of putting the concerts together, she also appreciated the support and love she has received, urging the public to rally round more in support by attending the events in the series. From the audience who warmed up momentously to the evening’s recital, there are suggestions for more outreach programmes and collaborations.
The world’s first ever African Concert Series was launched in London in 2019 by the award-winning Nigerian-Romanian pianist, Rebeca Omordia, featuring monthly concerts of music by African composers. Described by the BBC World Service as “the African Art Music makes a comeback”, the programme of the series reflects the depth and diversity of African art music, the richly diverse genre of music which forms a bridge between Western classical music and African traditional music.
Omordia’s debut CD, ‘Ekele: Piano Music by African Composers’, released in 2018 was first of its kind in the UK and received wide acknowledgements. Gramophone Magazine credited it as a “fascinating programme” and it was commended as a “beautifully delivered recital” by the Sunday Times. The latest offering in AFRICAN PIANISM no doubt promises a great repertoire of richly resonating hues of musical cultures.
The next event in the 2022 series comes up on Thursday 3 February (6.30pm) at The Africa Centre London SE1 0BL. The CEO at Eclipse Theatre Company and former Director at the Centre, Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE hosts ‘In Conversation’ with guests comprising composer Fred Onovwerosuoke, double bassist Leon Bosch, pianist Glen Inanga and Rebeca Omordia.
Entry to this event which is being broadcast live on Colourful Radio is free. Saturday 5 February is epochal as the series make history with a first-of-its-kind event. The African Concert Series Day at Wigmore Hall London is devoted to celebrating music and musicians from Africa, as well as those of African heritage. Three segments will run at 11.30am, 3pm and at 7.30pm. Info and tickets at www.wigmore-hall.org.uk
© Feferity Media Group
Segun Martins Fajemisin
Photo and video credit/Fourchiefs Media Productions & The African Concert Series