Thursday, April 1, 2021 Julian Lloyd Webber: The rich world of African classical music [African Concert Series, founded by pianist Rebeca Omordia]

 Discovering untapped riches … series founder, the Nigerian-Romanian pianist Rebeca Omordia.

The Guardian

Julian Lloyd Webber

While the Wigmore Hall has rightly garnered plaudits for keeping classical music alive during lockdown, another pioneering concert series has also beaten the odds with its series of online live events.

The African Concert Series is the brainchild of my former duo partner, the pianist Rebeca Omordia. She has half-Romanian, half-Nigerian heritage. But while we would often discuss world-renowned Romanian classical musicians such as composer Georges Enescu, pianist Dinu Lipatti and conductor Sergiu Celibidache, when it came to Nigerian classical composers, we drew a blank. “There aren’t any,” said Rebeca. I told her there must be, and challenged her to find them. This was back in 2013, and her subsequent research has uncovered more than 200 composers of African art music, Nigerians among them.

It has not been an easy journey for Omordia. Entirely self-funded until this year (when she secured a £15,000 grant from Arts Council England) she has battled scepticism, indifference and – most challenging of all – faced nearly insuperable difficulties tracking down the music itself, which remains mostly unpublished. Yet the 2020 African Concert Series has proved to be an outstanding success, which has sparked widespread interest in this hitherto virtually unknown genre. Launched the previous year with a mission to introduce music by African art composers to the mainstream, the series has already been promised a day of concerts in the 2021-22 season at one of London’s most enlightened concert venues, the October Gallery in Holborn. 

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