Friday, April 11, 2008

“African Suite” by Fela Sowande Digitally Remastered From 1952 Decca LP

[Fela Sowande: African Suite for Strings; The New Symphony Strings; Trevor Harvey, conductor; Decca LM 4547 (1952)]

The life of the Nigerian composer Olufela Sowande (1905-1987) is chronicled by Bode Omojola, Ph.D., in the 1995 book, Nigerian Art Music, in which he observes: “Fela Sowande is undoubtedly the father of modern Nigerian Art Music and perhaps the most distinguished and internationally known African composer.” This quotation is taken from the composer's page at

The Decca recording has been digitally remastered by Mike S. Wright, Chair, International Society for African to American Music (ISAAM). A one-minute audio sample of the last movement may be heard by clicking on its title, Akinla

Mike Wright informs AfriClassical that he plans to release the digitally remastered version of the recording on CD within the next few months. He adds: “I would also like you to put on a further appeal for others who may have other material that I could remaster. I believe that to get this all into circulation will help raise profile and encourage people to... do some new recordings of this unjustly neglected music. I would also be very pleased to receive any good recordings by other past African composers that have got out of circulation or were never circulated in the first place. I believe that there are many.” Mike S. Wright may be reached by E-mail at

The following titles and “A Note By The Composer” are from the original liner notes of Decca LM 4547 (1952):


i) Joyful Day
ii) Nostalgia
iii) Onipe
iv) Lullaby
v) Akinla

A Note By The Composer

This Suite consists of five pieces for String Orchestra and Harp, representing five varying moods. Two of the themes used in the Suite, "Joyful Day" and "Onipe," are melodies from the pen of Mr. E. Amu, of Achimota College, Gold Coast, West Africa, to whom the composer is indebted for permission to use them. "Lullaby" and "Akinia" are folk-melodies from Southern Nigeria, while "Nostalgia" is based on an original theme, and represents the nostalgic memories of "an African in England."

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