Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fela Sowande's 'African Suite' on WGTE-FM in Toledo and Online September 18

[The Organ Works of Fela Sowande: Cultural Perspectives; by Godwin Sadoh; Quality Paperback (2007)]

Greg Kostraba, D.M.A., is Classical Music Director of WGTE-FM, Public Radio in Toledo. He was named 2007 Ohio Public Broadcasting “Producer of the Year”. Greg tells AfriClassical: “I wanted to let you and your readers know that I will be broadcasting the CBC Vancouver Orchestra's recording of Fela Sowande's 'African Suite' Thursday, September 18th, 2008 on Evening Classics. The show can be heard on-line at from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. EDT. Thanks!! -- Greg

The Nigerian composer, organist and Professor Olufela Sowande (1905-1987) is profiled at Bode Omojola, Ph.D., chronicles his life and career 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. The most significant pioneer-composer of works in the European classical idiom, his works mark the beginning of an era of modern Nigerian Art Music.”

The African Suite (24:52) was recorded on CD in 1994 on CBC Records SMCD 5135. The CBC Vancouver Orchestra is led by Mario Bernardi, Conductor. The liner notes outline the history and composition of the work: “The African Suite, written in 1944, combines well-known West African musics with European forces and methods. For the opening movement, Joyful Day, Sowande uses a melody written by Ghanaian composer Ephrain Amu, as he does in the fourth movement, Onipe. In Nostalgia, Sowande composes a traditional slow movement to express his nostalgia for the homeland (in itself a rather European idea). At the centre of the work is a restive Lullaby, based on a folk original. The finale of the Suite, Akinla, traces a very singular musical history. It began as a popular Highlife tune - Highlife being a pungent, 20th-century style, combining colonial Western military and popular music with West African elements and a history of its own.”

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