New Horizons Studio Orchestra | Landscapes of Africa: Music for Orchestra

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Classical: Orchestral World: African Moods: Type: Instrumental
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Landscapes of Africa: Music for Orchestra

by New Horizons Studio Orchestra

"...over 50 minutes of orchestral music that is vibrant, intimate yet refreshingly new" - VOAM
Genre: Classical: Orchestral
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Fanfare for Orchestra (Warrior Dances)
4:31 $0.99
2. Yarinya (Maiden)
5:08 $0.99
3. Landscapes of Africa: A Tone Poem
12:22 $0.99
4. Beethoven Returns to Africa
4:10 $0.99
5. Ogiribo (The Storm)
1:17 $0.99
6. Meditation for Darfur
6:47 $0.99
7. Barka (Blessings and Goodwill)
3:03 $0.99
8. Rhapsody on Nketia's Republic Suite
4:57 $0.99
9. Domenshigbe (At the Market)
5:42 $0.99
10. Dance Tribute
3:31 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Music written by Africans for Western symphonic ensembles is not common on recordings or Euro-American concert programs, but several African countries have conservatories with music-making that would seem worthy of further investigation. Fred Onovwerosuoke was born Fred Okorefe Kwaku Onovwerosuoke in Ghana in 1960. His family was Nigerian, and his education in African idioms encompassed the music of many different ethnic groups. At the University of Ife in Nigeria he conducted a choral group, and he studied with Ghana's most famous musical scholar, J.H. Kwabena Nketia. Onovwerosuoke now lives in New Orleans, where many of his manuscripts were nearly destroyed by Hurricane Katrina; admirers recopied them off the soaked pages. The orchestral works heard here are strongly recommended to anyone interested in fusions between the European and African musical languages, for Onovwerosuoke's thinking is subtle and original. His music strikes the listener as characteristically West African, but at first it's hard to tell why this should be — the traditions out of which his music grew are all heavily dependent upon percussion instruments, but he uses them only sparingly. (One that does appear is that great interlocutor between African Americans and the wider American culture: the snare drum.) The chief African components of his music are harmonic and melodic, with short, energetic motives in various pentatonic modes deployed across a full symphony orchestra. The orchestra itself is treated with a layered effect that suggests the texture of a group of drums without ever directly imitating it. At the base is an organ that lays out basic rhythmic motives and interacts with the orchestra or a varied group of solo instruments. Onovwerosuoke's rhythmic language would be worthy of analysis by students of the long process by which a common African-American language, musical and verbal, evolved out of the multiplicity of cultures of the enslaved. The overall effect is kinetic, colorful, and imposing — any symphonic programmer looking for music that will meet urban constituencies halfway should hear this disc. The capable New Horizons Studio Orchestra, hitherto unknown, appears to be a pickup group associated with the St. Louis African Chorus, a group of musicians responsible for issuing this disc and others in an African Art Music Series that, on the evidence here, is eagerly awaited.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 brought untold devastation and human suffering to many people in southern United States, including my family. With thousands of pages of sheet music destroyed and hundreds of tapes from over 25 years of field research across Africa damaged by the flood, the challenges seemed insurmountable for us. But help poured in from around the world. Friends, musical colleagues and total strangers traveled long distances to help us rebuild in New Orleans. Many enthusiastic volunteers offered to help salvage and transcribe music manuscripts and other media. Out of the rubbles of the hurricanes, we found the mangled scores of the pieces you’ll hear on this CD. We also found other composition sketches in various stages of completion. The joy of this discovery opened vast creative wells from which the newer pieces were composed. Fanfare for Orchestra takes after the Ukere and Iju warrior dances that fascinated me among the Urhobo people of Nigeria. Yarinya, the second movement of first Suite for String Orchestra, was inspired by an old Hausa story of a beautiful lady. Landscapes of Africa is a concerto for flutes and piccolo commissioned for Wendy Hymes. Beethoven Returns to Africa is the first movement from the first Suite. Ogiribo (Urhobo word for “storm”) came from my second Suite. Meditation for Darfur drew emotional blood from me as I pondered the untold carnage and human suffering in the Sudan that never made the headlines in our various news media. Barka recaptures my travels around North and North West Africa, and is based on a Foula tune I learned from my artistic assistant, Ablawa Reine. In Rhapsody, Nketia’s “Republic Suite” was appropriate jubilation for Ghana’s 50th Independence Celebration. Domenshigbe tells the story of two messengers at a market square. Dance Tribute, my first piece for chamber groups was first performed in 1987, with Ajibola Mesida of Nigeria and me on violins and Vincent Richter of Ghana on piano. This version for orchestra was first performed by the Principia College Instrumental Ensemble of Elsah, Illinois, and conducted by Marie Garritson Jureit. Each piece evokes its own measure of joy and emotions. You will enjoy this CD, but more than that, I hope it encourages orchestras and chamber groups to seek out compositions by Africans. From Halim El-Dabh of Egypt to Kwabena Nketia and Gyimah Labi of Ghana, or Fela Sowande and Akin Euba and Joshua Uzoigwe of Nigeria to Justinian Tamuzusa of Uganda and Bongani Ndondana of South Africa, and many more, Africa portends a new voice for orchestras and chamber music groups around the world.
- Fred Onovwerosuoke, New Orleans, USA. 2007



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