So many things are changing at the Music Society of Nigeria, otherwise known as MUSON. The centre, popularly known for its unique offerings of classic music, is changing the game in its repertoire of music for a wider appeal as it includes Jazz, Opera and African music in its lineup.
MUSON is poised to achieving this through a concert series tagged ‘New Horizons’ put together by its new artistic director, Tunde Jegede.
Jegede says he designed the concert series to give a platform for lovers of music to have a taste of something different from the usual, saying “we combine Jazz and spoken word in the concert to demonstrate how MUSON is trying to broaden its reach. We have more than just classical music.”
According to him, the poor appeal of classical music to a general audience is not peculiar to the MUSON alone. “It is not just in MUSON, the classical music has had a challenge internationally. It has its own audience. The way it can be better appreciated is to include the spoken word. People who do not appreciate classical music may want to come because of the spoken word.
“In addition, we cleverly include popular culture. That is the only way to connect. Pop artistes in the UK have introduced the string guitar. You can’t just pick a hip-hop artiste and put him in the classical context, he has to connect,” he says.
Jegede explains that the first concert in the series comes up on Sunday, February 22, 2015. It is an exploration of Jazz and its African Connections. It will feature Nigerian spoken word artiste, Dike Chukwumerije, singer/multi percussionist, Venus Bushfires, Age Beeka, Imoleayo Balogun and the Art Ensemble of Lagos.
“The first concert in the series is the melting point for Jazz and music,” adds Jegede. “Most of the Jazz music is from Nigeria. 80 percent of the music is from here. It is a blend of Africa and Western music. They are melodies that you can identify with. Most of the work I do are meeting points for both African and Western music. You can get 50 percent of this and 50 percent of that.”
The second series in the concert, ‘African Messiah,’ Jegede explains, will come up on Sunday, March 29, 2015. It is a contemporary opera written and composed by Jegede. It will bring Africa and baroque music together for the first time. It is the story of the messiah in parallel to the historical trials and tribulations of African people through millennia told in poetic narrative. The series will feature the MUSON choir and the Samadhi Ensemble, conducted by Emeka Nwokedi.
The third and fourth series in the concert come up on Sunday, April 19, and Sunday, June 14, 2015, respectively. The third tagged ‘After the Dream’ will be an opera of celebrated arias put together by soprano soloist, Ranti Ihimoyan. “It will feature the African American opera diva, Laverne Williams and some of Nigeria’s finest opera singers including, Guchi Egbunine, Fatima Anyekema and Chika Ogbuji.”
Furthermore, Jegede says the fourth series named ‘Emidy: He Who Dared to Dream,’ centres around the life and times of 19th Century composer and violinist, Joseph Antonio Emidy. “He transversed three continents namely Africa, South America and Europe. The concert features me, Diana Naroni and the Indian multi-percussionist, Renu Hossain.”
Gbenga Banjo, general manager, MUSON, says there has been an increase in the number of young people who attend the concert over the years. “We are beginning to have a swell of young people who come to our concerts. We look critically at our repertoire of the concert. We are careful to decide on the kind of music we perform at the concert. We want to involve more young people. Our school of music is a testimony to our vision to reach young people from childhood,” he says.
All concerts will take place at the Agip Recital Hall, MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos. Tickets are available at MUSON, Jazzhole, Orpheus, Quintessence and Terra Kulture – N2,000 for adult, students N1,000, and children N500.