By John Owoo
(Accra International Conference Centre)
The Pan African Youth Orchestra last week overwhelmed dozens of mayors who have gathered in Accra for a summit with re-compositions of traditional music into orchestral versions.
Performing at the Accra International Conference Centre as part of opening ceremonies for the mayors’ meeting, the group surprised the visitors with a dramatic combination of varied traditional instruments out of which produced complex rhythms.
Armed with re-compositions by the late Ghanaian musicologist / composer, Nana Danso Abiam, who was inspired by nationalistic movements that arose during the 1960s, the group charmed the audience with neo traditional tunes that clearly revealed the power and capabilities of African instruments.
Conducted by Kweku Kwakye (aka Kweku Breaker), rhythms from a vast array of traditional instruments including giant fontonfrom drums, xylophones, atentenben flutes, talking drums and a variety of shakers / bells sent the audience on a musical journey that was definitely on the contemporary tip but with its heart and soul firmly embedded in Africa.
Delivering new forms to traditional Ghanaian music, the group appeared to be recreating tradition within tradition while showcasing conventional music in an orchestral disposition that recalled the authenticity of indigenous African music and compositions.
Without doubt, compositions by Abiam, which were performed in an irresistible rendition, are similar to open landscapes that have been continuously rocked by expansive / specific climaxes of sound.
Hailed for his use of contrasting sounds alongside compositions with tremendous emotional power, depth and sensitivity, the legacy of Abiam will forever revitalize the music scene in Ghana as these talented young artists continue to showcase his work.
Undeniably, it was an unscheduled concert in the memory of a legend, who raised the bar for high quality compositions in Ghana and managed to place the country on the orchestral music map of the world.
Other groups and artists who performed during the three-day summit include Amandeba Brew, flute magician Dela Botri and Noyam African Dance Group among others.