Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Justinian Tamusuza's Work on “African Art Music for Flute” is “Okwanjula Kw’Endere”

[African Art Music for Flute: The Music of Ndondana, Nketia, Onovwerosuoke, Tamuzusa, and Uzoigwe; Wendy Hymes, flutes; Darryl Hollister, piano; AMP Records AGCD 2081 (2008)]

The longest single track on
African Art Music for Flute by Wendy Hymes on flutes and Darryl Hollister on piano is Okwanjula Kw'Endere by the Ugandan composer Justinian Tamusuza (b. 1951). He has often been called one of the most distinguished African composers of classical music. AfricanChorus.org provides the equivalent of a liner note on the composition:

Okwanjula Kw’Endere, meaning “Introduction of the flute,” is the first movement of a larger chamber work Ekivvulu Ky’Endere (“African Festivity for Flute”) written for flute, viola, prepared harp, marimba and maracas and premiered by the Ugandan group, Abaana B’Engoma. The Ugandan bamboo flute called the endere is used widely by shepherds in a pastoral setting as well as in traditional festivals like weddings and as royal court music of the King of Buganda, the kabaka. Tamusuza uses microtonal fingerings, flutter tonguing, simultaneous singing and playing, harmonics pitch bends and key clicks to simulate the spirit of Kigandan endere music. The microtones and pitch slides portray characteristic amateur traditional singers “who join in the communal singing, but now and then go out of tune” and the “vocal music where there is usually an inflectional rise on the final pitch or just before.” Adam Lesnick refers to this music’s “poly-rhythms [which] dazzle the ear with misleading accents, tripping up the happy and complex weave of simple pentatonic melodies.”

Justinian Tamusuza's website chronicles his success in Western classical music: “Tamusuza first came to world attention through the Kronos Quartet, whose CD "Pieces of Africa" features Tamusuza's first string quartet, Mu Kkubo Ery'Omusaalaba. The CD reached No. 1 on the Billboard Classical and World Music Charts in 1992. He has since been commissioned by Kronos (for his second string quartet), the International Society of contemporary Music, ISCM (Essen, Germany 1995), the Chamber Symphony of Princeton and the Richmond Symphony Orchestra of Virginia."

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