When the 2014 edition of the Commonwealth Games opened in the Scottish city of Glasgow on July 23, the first and only African orchestra in the United Kingdom took center stage and spiced it with some irresistible Afro-classical renditions.
Spearheaded by Ghanaian multi-artist, Gameli Tordzro, the Ha Orchestra, playing exclusively traditional African instruments such as the Gimbre, Kalimba, Zylophone, Kora, Atumpan, Kpanlogo, Dondo, Brekete and Sogo drums, flutes, Axatse and Kagogui, features Malawian original Bhundu Boy, Rise Kagona, Denmark based Alfred Tamakloe and Samuel Kwamina Takyi, Gambian Kora Brothers Sura and Suntu Sosso, Glasgow’s own Clare Roberson and Lillias Kinsman-Blake and Edinburgh based Andy Cooke and Tom Oakes.
“With musicians from all over Africa and Scotland, Ha Orchestra taps into a vast unexplored musical wealth and cross cultural experiences of the African diaspora living in Scotland”, says Gameli Tordzro, founder, composer and producer of the orchestra.
“What we are doing today, is writing the history of tomorrow. These are treasured opportunities to share in Glasgow”, stresses Gameli, who doubles as the Artistic Director of Pan African Arts Scotland (PAAS), under whose auspices the orchestra was established.
Explaining the concept of Ha Orchestra, Tordzro said “it stems from 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 African Diaspora”.
Maggie Maxwell of Creative Scotland says, “everyone who has come together to create the Ha Orchestra is bound by skill and passion for their art, by shared links between different cultures and musical traditions, and by the desire to build on these links and create something truly new, truly special. We can all now enjoy the results of their inspirational work”.
The Queens Baton Relay, Merchant City Festival, BBC’s 16-Day Pop Up Festival, PASSfest and Reaches Heights at the newly refurbished Kelvingrove Band Stand during Glasgow Mela 2014 followed their debut appearance as they open Emancipation Day Carnival at Glasgow Green Live Zone.
They climax their performance with a concert at Kelvingrove Band Stand to wrap up their act on August 2. Ha Orchestra is a Culture-2014 funded collaboration between Pan African Arts Scotland, University of Glasgow-GRAMMNet and The Community Central Halls.
By Alfred Tamakloe in Glasgow
Pictures: Gameli Tordzro, Setor Tordrzo, Federica di Lascio