ChoralFest International contest set to hold
National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) held a mini-exhibition concert last week at the Ayo Babalola Centre for Arts and Cultural Expression, Surulere, Lagos. The concert was a collaborative effort between NCAC and Ayo Bankole Centre for Arts and Cultural Expression, organisers of ChoralFest International Nigeria.
The choral festival, which is open to any choir desirous of offering music, both sacred and secular, aims at responding to the economic challenges through youth empowerment, rural transformation and diversification of the nation’s resources. ChoralFest International Nigeria is also designed to promote choral music practice as well as engage with corporate sponsors for their value for money.
LASU Music Choir, led by David Aina, B-Clef Voices, led by Obafemi Ogundipe and Choral Beats, rendered impressive songs such as Omo oba sokoto, Ere Ayo, Ave Maria, Uwatata, Omode Meta and many other songs to the delight of the audience, which turned out in their numbers.
While emphasising the important of the festival, Chief Executive Officer of Characters Ltd, Oladele Ogunlana, went down memory lane and cited the example of how Southern slaves in America developed plantation songs that carried coded messages that only the they knew their meanings.
According to Ogunlana, “It was through these songs that information was passed around as a system of communication throughout the south. From the 19th century, however, academics began to take note of the musical traditions being lost and therefore initiated various efforts to preserve the music of the people.
“They sought that these songs be taught to school children with the hope of reviving and prolonging their popularity. At some point, composers of classical music developed a strong interest in collecting traditional songs while others carried out their own fieldwork on traditional music.
“Africa is a vast continent and its nations have distinct musical traditions. Naturally, the same goes for our Nigeria. We realise, however, that worldwide, there is a lot of traditional, folk music in the face of the rise of what is called popular music. It is not occurring at a uniform rate. Therefore, we must work together towards its preservation.”
Proposed events for the festival, which will hold in August, would be regional competitions in which participants would be adjudged in classical, traditional and contemporary music styles in junior and senior categories.
Emphasis would be placed on quality of singing, command of the choice of music, traditional content and group cohesion. The weeklong event would also feature practical workshops in Lagos, with an exhibition of musical instruments, workshops and training for participants from day one. There will also be a choral street storm covering six local governments in Lagos. This element of the programme has been designed to give maximum impetus to the sales and product marketing drive of the sponsors, among other things.
The final competition will have eight qualifying choirs that have scaled through the preliminary competition for the title of best choir in Nigeria in a high elimination series spanning five days. The final performance and awards will take place at a high profile event with at least 1,500 guests.