Friday, October 3, 2014

Samuel Ekpe Akpabot, Nigerian Composer, Professor & Author, Was Born on October 3, 1932 in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State; '3 Nigerian Dances' on MP3

Samuel Akpabot : The Odyssey of a Nigerian Composer-Ethnomusicologist (Paperback) by Godwin Sadoh
3 Nigerian Dances, for orchestra, is on Marco Polo 5.223832 (1996), which was recorded by the South African Broadcasting Corporation National Symphony Orchestra, and conducted by Richard Cock.  The three movements are:

1.Allegro moderato 2:47

2.Andante cantabile 3:45

3.Allegretto 2:04 offers a reproduction of the entire original CD on demand.
An MP3 Download of 3 Nigerian Dances (8:36) is available for a total of $3.97 at ClassicalArchives.com
Samuel Ekpe Akpabot (1932-2000) was a Nigerian composer, professor and author who was born in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria on October 3, 1932. One of the principal documentary sources on his life and career is Nigerian Art Music, a book written by Bode Omojola, Ph.D. and published in 1995 by the Institute of African Studies at Ibadan University in Nigeria. He says of the composer's youth: "At the age of eleven he came to Lagos for his education at King's College, a school often referred to as the "Eton of Nigeria" and where European music was taught. It was, however, in the Church that Samuel Akpabot received the most significant introduction to European music. He was a chorister at Christ Church Cathedral, Lagos, under Phillips."  
Omojola continues: "As well as being a chorister he also found time to play in bands, the most popular of which was the Chocolate Dandies, formed and led by Soji Lijadu. In 1949 when Akpabot left the choir, his voice having broken, he formed his own band, The Akpabot Players; T.A.P. as it was popularly called."
At the same time as he led a band, Akpabot served as organist at St. Saviour's Church in Lagos, Olabode Omojola relates.
A scholarship enabled Akpabot to travel to England in 1954 and enroll in the Royal College of Music in London. There he studied organ and trumpet. His teachers included John Addison, Osborn Pisgow and Herbert Howells. Akpabot subsequently left to study music at Trinity College.

In 1959 Akpabot returned to Nigeria and became a broadcaster with the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation. At the same time he produced his earliest compositions, which were influenced by his country's Highlife idiom. Omojola continues: "
His first work, Nigeriana, for orchestra (1959) was originally written as an exercise for his composition teacher, John Addison. After minor revisions it was later renamed Overture for a Nigerian Ballet. Conceived along the tradition of the nineteenth century European concert overture, the work is characterised by literal and allusive quotations of Highlife tunes strung together in a rhapsodic manner."

Akpabot left his position in broadcasting in 1962 to join the fledgling music faculty of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.  
Omojola describes the environment as favorable for composing: "Nsukka proved a stimulating atmosphere in which to compose. The university, itself, established in the same year as Nigeria's independence, was generally regarded as a symbol of modern independent Nigeria. It was seen as one of the most important foundations for fashioning an artistic tradition that would reflect the national aspirations of the country. Between 1962 and 1967, Akpabot wrote four works which clearly reflected the prevailing nationalist euphoria of that time. The works are Scenes from Nigeria, for orchestra (1962); Three Nigerian Dances,for string orchestra and percussion (1962); Ofala, a tone poem for wind orchestra and five African instruments (1963); and Cynthia's Lament, tone poem for soloist, wind orchestra and six African instruments (1965)."

The composer's Three Nigerian Dances (8:34) has been recorded by the National Symphony Orchestra of the South African Broadcasting Corporation, under the direction of Richard Cock, Conductor, on Marco Polo 8.223832 (1995). 
Oxford University Press has published Samuel Akpabot's Three Nigerian Dances, and gives this history of the creation of the work: "His training helped equip Akpabot to notate traditional Nigerian material in such a way as to make it accessible to western audiences. As far as the Three Nigerian Dances are concerned, the composer wrote:

"I was inspired in writing this work by Dvorak's Slavonic Dances which I enjoy
listening to very much. Jolly good fun was my key word here and I think string orchestras would enjoy getting introduced to the dances which we, in Africa, have enjoyed through the years. They all consist of an opening section, a middle section which does not modulate, and a closing section. Modulation is very foreign to African instrumental music and I wanted very much to get away from the ABA form so common to early European instrumental music."

The CBMR Digest reported in Vol. 14, No. 1, Spring 2001: "Samuel Ekpe Akpabot, renowned musicologist and composer, died in his hometown of Uyo, Nigeria, on August 7, 2000. He was 67 years old and until his death had been serving as a lecturer at the Institute of Cultural Studies, University of Uyo.

"Like his fellow Nigerian Fela Sowande, Samuel Ekpe Akpabot was a very accomplished composer who lived to see very few of his compositions recorded."  

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