MUSON serenades guests with concert in honour of Akin Euba

MUSON Diploma choir on set

On Thursday, January 17 2019, the University of Lagos, collaborating with the Musical Society of Nigeria, held a concert in honour of Professor Akin Euba, a United States of America-based Nigerian composer.

Euba has had a commendable professional career, with his interest in music commencing in his school days at C.M.S. Grammar School in Lagos.

He then studied at the Trinity College of Music in London, and on returning home, started the Department of Music at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.

He later left Ife for Lagos, when he was appointed Director, Centre of Cultural Studies and Professor of Music at the University of Lagos in 1977. He was there till 1980.

Though Euba, a member of MUSON, retired from university services in 2011, has remained active, composing music and writing books.

Euba has invented and conceptualised the concept of African pianism, which involves using the piano to re-interprete the intricacies of African music.

Such traits are found in his composition, Four pieces for the Oyo calabash (1964).

Much of Euba’s music falls into the genre termed ‘modern music’ in which the composition does not necessarily contain ‘sweet passages’, but is characterised by dissonant sounds and atonal passages. This often appears harsh to the uninitiated ear.

At the concert, the audience was introduced to Euba’s music through the famous anthem he composed for the 1977 Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture in Nigeria.

This composition is tuneful and has a catchy melody. It is also easy to latch unto.

The concert proper commenced with the MUSON Diploma Choir, conducted by Sir Emeka Nwokedi, singing the FESTAC anthem.

The choir is the fruit of a two-year MUSON Diploma programme in Music. But its students’ status, notwithstanding, the choir has won a lot of garlands both at home and outside.

The choir also sang the Euba arranged Christmas Carol titled, The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy.

Then followed was Euba’s piece titled, Five pieces for English Horn and Piano. Mr. John Robison, who is a Professor of Musicology at the University of South Florida, played the English horn.

Robison was accompanied on piano by Seun Awoaje, and Robison’s presence at the concert is indicative of the fact that many persons journeyed long distances to be present at the proceedings, and came from countries as far as Ghana, South Africa, Brazil etc. All this testifies to Euba’s international reach.

Groove for the Master-Drummer, where a soprano (Ranti Ihimoyan) sang to the accompaniment of two drummers and a piano. The song is a praise song in honour of a much-revered master-drummer.

The pianist Ayo Bankole Jr. son of the renowned musicologist Ayo Bankole, of blessed memory, played three pieces, the Marvelous master drummer (Anthony Mereni composer), Ya Orule (Ayo Bankole) and Rhapsody on an Egun Theme (Ayo Bankole).

The piece (Rhapsody, attracted a ‘standing ovation’ from the audience, whose gesture greatly pleased the pianist (Ayo Bankole Jnr).

At this stage in the concert, a written message from Euba was read out to the audience.

Euba expressed his appreciation for all persons who had participated in the planning and execution of his tribute concert, and he voiced his regret that he was not able to journey down to Lagos to attend the concert himself.

Elizabeth Olaitan, a soprano, accompanied by Tosin Ajayi (piano), then sang six Yoruba songs composed by Euba.

Adadaramola Olaore (baritone) sang Ilu Baje O, where he lamented the lack of facilities and infrastructure in several parts of the country.

The UNILAG Chorale filled the hall with melodious choruses, as well as rendering the piece, Asiko L’aiye, a song made popular by King Sunny Ade.

The stage was then taken over by The Mountain Top Chorale, which came into being in 2013 under the vision of Dr. Daniel Olukoya.

Directed by Aderayo Oyegbade, who is a MUSON alumnus, the chorale is one of the groups of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries.

Oyegbade is alecturer at the Mountain Top Conservatory of Music. The Chorale performed the composition Rabata (Ayo Oluranti, composer).

The chorale also performed Isantim (Hippopotamus) arranged by Okechukwu Ndubuisi.

The stage was finally taken over by the MUSON Diploma Choir, which rendered the epic composition of TKE Phillips, a pioneering Nigerian musicologist, which composition is titled, Emi O Gbe Oju mi Soke Wonni (I will raise my eyes up onto the hills).

The choir ended the concert with the piece O Seun Fun Mi (from the FESTAC Cantata, by Ayo Bankole). This song is one of praise acknowledging God’s Goodness.

The entire concert was rounded up by the closing remarks from Bode Omojola, a Nigerian composer of note, who was the Chairman of the Programme Committee.

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