Fusion of diverse musical cultures is not new but it can be quite dramatic, vivid and intense – especially when an adventurous group of artistes from several countries decide to let off their creative impulses.
Apart from its ability to captivate and surprise, cross-cultural collaborations reveal the beauty, variety and diversity of creative works by people with varied backgrounds.
I feel a subtle sense of anxiety from the audience as members of African Footprint International (AFI) move onto the stage at Godsbanen, a theatre located in downtown Aarhus, the second city of Denmark.
The apprehension from the audience is comprehensible – as musicians, dancers and acrobats in colourful costumes from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Australia and Denmark proceed in unison – amidst pounding beats from giant fontonfrom drums.
“I am not sure of what to expect but I guess it will be memorable – the hand crafted drums are obviously artworks in themselves. The kora will definitely support the playing of cross rhythms”, says Dorthe Nielsen, a violinist in Aarhus.
Refreshing rhythms from the Kora tenderly fills the air while atumpan, kpanlogo, balafon, guitars, kidi, kete, djembe, bells and rattles join in harmony as vocals from two Danish singers cut through the air with immense passion.
Traditional / vertical dancers, aerial performers on hanging fabrics alongside Kenyan acrobats set the theatre ablaze with a spectacular performance. They suspend, fall, swing and twist their bodies in various deft maneuvers amidst cheers from the capacity audience.
Ovations flow as acclaimed Danish trombonists, guitarists and drummers join the group. Comprising Karsten Aaholm, Keld Hosbond, Mogens Thorborg, Frank Bastrup Olsen, Nicolaj Pedersen and Rasmus Kristiansen, they simply electrify the theatre with their instrumental expertise.
“Absolutely fanciful to see four experienced trombonists on stage – and interestingly, they are performing with African artistes. I was overwhelmed by the calmness of trombones, therapeutic power of the kora and the softness of drum beats”, adds Jens Enggaard, an architect from the capital Copenhagen.
“A fantastic show that has a wide variety of fast moving scenes to satisfy everybody – I never lost concentration for a moment – I will surely like to see it again, concludes Kirsten Kester, a lecturer / consultant in Aarhus.
Put together by multi instrumentalist Samuel Kweku Addison with support from UK based guitar dynamo Kwame Yeboah, the show is a piece of artwork that creates room for distinct artistes and a huge allowance for improvisations and experiments.
The Danish tour by AFI is being made possible by the kind courtesy of Godsbanen, Royal Academy of Music (Aarhus), Addison’s Mighty Works Aps, Keld Hosbond, Klejtrup Musikefterskole, Den Rytmiske Højeskole, Shanghai Akademi, Sydjurs Musikskole, Brandbjerg Højskole and www.artsghana.org.
Pictures by Jacob Crawfurd