By John Owoo
(In Accra – Ghana)
Ha Orchestra, the first African Symphonic Orchestra in Scotland and the United Kingdom recently charmed audiences in the Scottish city of Edinburgh with slow, delicate and glorious tunes as well as emotionally rich sounds.
Performing as part of the European Conference on African Studies, the group exhibited high energy and enthusiasm during the concerts, which were characterized by elegant, beautiful, playful and dramatic compositions.
Set up a few years ago by Ghanaian creative arts director / academic Dr. Gameli Tordzro, the orchestra aims at bringing together musicians from different cultural heritages to create music that sounds different from the western classical music played in Africa and the African diaspora.
It was largely inspired by the late Ghanaian composer Nana Danso Abiam’s practice of integrating regional music of Africa into a new classical synthesis thereby creating a symphonic system, which is different from established western classical repertoire in Africa and the Diaspora.
Based in Scotland, the orchestra comprises musicians from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Gambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Belgium, Scotland, England, Denmark and France, who play diverse instruments from the African continent and elsewhere.
In 2014, the orchestra worked with five learning communities across the city of Glasgow (Scotland) as they set up music making workshops with schools, colleges and communities while creating learning opportunities for children and adults of all ages.
In Ghana, the orchestra worked and performed with the Noyam African Dance Ensemble in the hillside town of Dodowa, while working on a series of programmes with the University of Ghana, Legon.
The group equally offers teaching of African musical instruments, performance opportunities, schools / community events, venue tours and master classes alongside research and knowledge exchange opportunities for academics in high and further education institutions.
Ha Orchestra has also been involved in research at the University of Glasgow’s (Scotland) “RM Borders Production,” “Broken World Broken Word” and a current project dubbed “South-South Migration Inequality and Development Hub.
The hub’s agenda include deepening understanding of the dynamics, transnational interplay between SSM, inequality and development by bringing together an interdisciplinary, cross-sectorial team of researchers from 12 ODA-recipient countries constituting six SSM ‘corridors’ within which there are significant two-way movements of people, goods, money, knowledge and skills as well as social and cultural ideas and relationships.
Examine the ways and contexts within which multidimensional inequalities both create and constrain the opportunities and benefits of South-South migration, exploring both horizontal (gender, age) and vertical (income) inequalities from an intersectional perspective, drawing in other relevant axes of inequality including religion, ethnicity and language.
Others are analyzing how configurations of policies (migration, development, basic services, social protection) and other factors (labour markets, financial institutions, legal frameworks, national/natural disasters, conflict) that intersect with inequalities to migration processes and outcomes for different groups in both origin and destination countries.
Evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and policies designed to tackle inequalities associated with migration including political mobilization and transnational solidarity building, access to legal remedies to deliver an opportunity for those who move and the use of ICT to facilitate access to information and services.