Saturday, December 28, 2013

Dr. William H. Chapman Nyaho, African American Pianist and Professor, Author of 'Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora' was born Dec. 28, 1958

ASA: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent
William Chapman Nyaho, piano
MSR Classics MS1242 (2008)

Senku: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent

William Chapman Nyaho, piano
Musicians Showcase 1091 (2003)

Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora
Compiled and Edited by
William H. Chapman Nyaho
Volume 1
Early Intermediate
Oxford University Press (2007)

Dr. William Chapman Nyaho (b. 1958) is featured at  He turns 55 today, with landmark recordings and sheet music publications to his credit. His performance website is and he has a Facebook Page.  The concert page at his website is  Two upcoming performances are in North Carolina:

Feb 23, 2014
3 pm
Raleigh Chamber Music Guild Concert Series, Wake Tech Community College. The North Campus,
Raleigh, NC

Feb 24, 2014
Lecture recital, North Carolina Central University
Durham, NC

Ghana - In addition to numerous performances in North America, Dr. Chapman Nyaho gave piano recitals this year in Ghana, on June 30 and July 1, 2013, as reported in on June 28, 2013.

William H. Chapman Nyaho was born in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 28, 1958. He was to become a virtuoso pianist, gifted professor of music and dedicated collector and editor of piano music of the African Diaspora. When he was only ten months old his parents returned to their native Ghana with him. He grew up there and graduated from Ghana's Achimota School after studying piano with John Barham. Nyaho received his B.A. in Music from Oxford University in the U.K. After studies in piano at the Conservatoire de Musique in Geneva, Switzerland, and with Henri Gautier, he earned a Master of Music degree at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Nyaho studied with David Renner at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received his Doctoral degree in Music.

Following a four-year residency as a North Carolina Visiting Artist, Nyaho taught at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette from 1991-2002. He has performed as a soloist in Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and North America. He also plays chamber music as part of the Nyaho/Garcia Duo. His Web site for both solo and duo activities is:

The CD Senku: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent, Musicians Showcase Recordings 1091 (2003) is comprised of solo piano works by eight composers:

Joshua Uzoigwe (b. 1946), Nigeria
Oswald Russell (b. 1933), Jamaica
Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (1932-2004), United States
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), United Kingdom
Margaret Allison Bonds (1913-1972), United States
Gamal Abdel-Rahim (1924-1988), Egypt
R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943), Canada
Gyimah Labi (b. 1950), Ghana

The liner notes are by the poet Maya Angelou, a mentor to the pianist. Brief audio samples of all eight tracks can be heard at Nyaho's website. Donald Rosenberg wrote a review of Senku for the March 2004 issue of Gramophone, One theme but many styles, all illuminated by some fine playing. He writes that "senku" is a Ghanian word referring to a keyboard instrument. The review ends with these remarks:

“The humanity of the music and Nyaho's gripping performances kept my ears glued to this disc. Let's hope the pianist continues to explore - and record - more such commanding repertoire.”

The Nyaho/Garcia Duo is committed to performing music of composers of African or Hispanic heritage, as well works of contemporary, American and women composers. The Duo has a recording to its credit as well: Aaron Copland: Music for Two Pianos, Centaur 2405 (1998). Nyaho's website explains:

Classical Magazine wrote then that the duo, 'form a perfect match in their style of playing, their tone, and in their genuine feeling for and understanding of the Copland pieces... This CD will be the standard against which any future performances of these dances will be measured.'"

Nyaho's website describes the pianist's active role as pianist in residence:

“Nyaho has served as a guest lecturer on piano technique and on specific composers, offered numerous master classes and specialized activities for students, and traveled into countless schools to wring unexpectedly beautiful music from dubious cafeteria pianos.”

An example of the symposiums in which Nyaho participates is Africa Meets Asia, which was held at the Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing, China in October 2005. He performed both solo and duo piano works during the program. The Jamaican choreographer Garth Fagan, Founder and Artistic Director of Garth Fagan Dance, an innovative dance company, choreographed music from Nyaho's CD Senku for a dance and live piano performance October 17, 2006 at New York's Joyce Theater. It was repeated in the dance company's home town of Rochester, New York.
The lack of sheet music for students and performers is a major reason music by Black composers has so few concert performances and recordings. A great deal of music exists, and Nyaho has played a pioneering role in making it available. He has compiled and edited an unprecedented five-volume anthology Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora. The music is organized by skill level, from beginning to advanced. Oxford University Press published Volumes 1 and 2 in March 2007. The complete set is now in print and available.

Nyaho described his second CD ASA: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent MSR Classics 1242 (2008):
"It consists of music by Fred Onovwerosuoke, Florence Price, Halim El Dabh, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Isaac Roux, Amadeo Roldan y Gardes, Alain-Pierre Pradel, and Ludovic Lamothe. 

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