African Concert Series Day returns to Wigmore Hall

by Segun Fajemisin

African Concert Series Day returns to Wigmore Hall to celebrate another edition of enthusing performances of African art music

 The African Concert Series Day made history with its maiden edition at London’s Wigmore Hall on February 5, 2022. My full report of the historic event was published by ‘Musical Opinion’ in its April-June 2022 quarterly edition. The subscription-based classical music journal was first published in 1877 and remains one of the longest-running magazines in the world.

Rebeca Omordia, Founder and Artistic Director African Concert Series

Excerpts from the review

In line with its founding spirit, the African Concert Series continue to gear its array of performances to reflect the depth and variety in African Art Music, making it a  diverse genre linking Western classical music and traditional music encompassing the cultural and social ambiences of the over  3000  ethnic groups to which Africa is home. In these cultures, music is central to people’s lives and accentuates all activities.

In the words of the founder and Artistic Director of the Series, Rebeca Omordia: “Bringing African classical music to the western audience was right from the start an endeavour meant to unravel the cultural diversity of the African continent reflected in its music, and to create a platform for the African classical music to be performed. Africa is very colourful – each country in Africa has a multitude of ethnic groups and each ethnic group has a music of its  own, with characteristic melodies and rhythms.”

Music no doubt shapes cultures and societies around the world. As a unifying force on its own, it engenders love. This is the embodying spirit of the African Concert Series Day in Wigmore Hall. Love of music, togetherness of communities, cultures and the sanctity of inter-cultural bonding.

By hosting the day, Wigmore Hall lends to an intensification of the project’s social remit to bring to mainstream attention African Art Music and the works of composers from the continent. This is more appreciated on the realisation that many of these works are unpublished. As research intensifies, many profound works are bound to be unearthed and highlighted with the support and collaborations such as Wigmore Hall has provided

With its fast-rising profile, it is not surprising that the African Concert Series which marks its 5th edition this year, is now resident at the Wigmore Hall. The monument, located at 36 Wigmore Street, London W1U 2BP, is the renowned home of chamber music and song recitals. This year marks the 122nd anniversary of its establishment.

Click to watch the video promo of the African Concert Series Day 2023

Segun Martins Fajemisin introducing the Series at an ACS concert

Here’s what to expect at this year’s concert

Beginning at 11.30 am with a solo piano recital with Artistic Director, pianist Rebeca Omordia presenting a concert entitled ‘African Pianism’, the segment focuses on works by composers now familiar to followers of the series. These include Nigerians Fred Onovwerosuoke, Ayo Bankole, and Christian Onyeji; Moroccan Nabil Benabdeljalil, and South African David Earl. The works of these composers also can be heard on Omordia’s eponymous CD, ‘African Pianism’.

This will be followed at 3.00 pm by the African Art Song in ‘Journeys from Home’ featuring soprano Omo Bello, and percussionist Richard Olatunde Baker accompanied by Omordia herself on piano together exploring music by composers of African backgrounds but whose careers took them elsewhere. These include Ayo Bankole who studied in London, Cambridge and Los Angeles; Akin Euba who worked in Germany, America and the UK; and the renowned 18th-century Paris-based violinist, Joseph Bologne famously known as the Chevalier de Saint-Georges.

Finally, a programme of African Chamber Music will feature at 7.30 pm with the ever-popular Ubuntu Ensemble founded by celebrated bass player Leon Bosch. A highlight of this concert will be the world premiere of a song cycle by Grant McLachlan for the rising South African star, baritone Theo Magongoma accompanied by the distinguished pianist Tessa Uys.

The Ubuntu Ensemble features violins, Andre Swanepoel and Claudia Dehnke, viola Louise Lansdowne, cello Elliott Bailey, piano Tessa Uys as well as Leon Bosch on bass. In addition to the McLachlan premiere, the programme includes works by Peter Klatzow, Mokale Koapeng, Fodé Lassana Diabaté and Moussa Dembele.

Follow the link below for the programme overview and booking information.

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