Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ifé: Three Yorùbá Songs for Orchestra: Angelique Kidjo's orchestral collaboration with Philip Glass ~ July 10 ~ U.S. Premiere in San Francisco

Angelique Kidjo
(Francois Zuidberg)

“The power of Kidjo’s unflappable voice, the range of her emotional expression, the stellar, genre-bending musicians who back her and the infectious, activist energy that courses through her songs all transcend any native tongue.”—NPR Music

“Village traditions, cosmopolitan transformations, female solidarity, African pride and perpetual energy have been constants in Ms. Kidjo’s recording career.”—The New York Times

“The African freedom-soul singer Angélique Kidjo is a sensual firebrand who moves freely between luxuriant detail and exultant minimalism in her music and agenda.”—Rolling Stone

 “…when [Angélique] sees wrong in the world, she works hard, dedicatedly, to change it, with words, with action, and of course with music.”—PRI’s “Afropop Worldwide

The highly anticipated U.S. premiere of Angélique Kidjo and Philip Glass’s orchestral collaboration, Ifé: Three Yorùbá Songs for Orchestra, is set to take place July 10 with the San Francisco Symphony at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, conducted by Edwin Outwater. A short excerpt of the work’s world premiere with the Luxembourg Philharmonic may be found here, and a clip of Glass discussing the work on the eve of its premiere may be found here. Tickets and full information on the program, which also includes selections from Kidjo’s recent orchestral album, Sings (out now on 429 Records and winning raves around the world) may be found here.

The piece, about which Glass says, “Together Angélique and I have built a bridge that no one has walked on before,” pays tribute to Ifé, the most important Yorùbá kingdom, believed to be the place where the world was created. “The god Olodumare sent his Orishas Obatala and Oduduwa to the world in order to create the land,” Kidjo says. “Yemandja ran away and joined the ocean. Oshumare, the rainbow snake, encircles the earth and prevents it from falling.”


Angelique Kidjo is a beloved two-time Grammy Award winner, longtime UNICEF goodwill ambassador and a recipient of this year’s Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum. Her accolades span a 20-year discography and thousands of concerts around the world. She has enjoyed a long history of notable collaborations with greats from the jazz and pop worlds including Carlos Santana, Bono, John Legend, Josh Groban, Peter Gabriel, Branford Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Roy Hargrove and Alicia Keys. In an expansive career marked as much by extraordinary musical achievement as passionate advocacy and philanthropy for her African homeland, Kidjo has found many ways to celebrate the rich, enlightening truth about the continent’s women beyond the media spotlight.


For more than five decades, Philip Glass continues to be at the forefront of contemporary music and art. In the early 1960s, Glass spent two years of intensive study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and, while there, earned money by transcribing Ravi Shankar’s Indian music into Western notation. By 1974 Glass had a number of innovative projects, creating a large collection of new music for The Philip Glass Ensemble and for the Mabou Mines Theater Company. This period culminated in Music in Twelve Parts and the landmark opera Einstein on the Beach, for which he collaborated with Robert Wilson. Since Einstein, Glass has expanded his repertoire to include music for opera, dance, theater, chamber ensemble, orchestra and film. His scores have received Academy Award nominations (Kundun, The Hours, Notes on a Scandal) and a Golden Globe (The Truman Show). Several new works have been unveiled, including two operas in 2013 (The Lost, for the opening of the new opera house in Linz Austria, and The Perfect American, about the death of Walt Disney). Glass’s newest opera, based on Kafka’s The Trial, premiered at London’s Covent Garden in October 2014. The Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel with Katia and Marielle Labeque will premiere his Concerto for Two Pianos & Orchestra in May 2015.


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