The Ghana National Music Festival
July 24-31, 2016
The inaugural year of the Ghana National Music Festival was a great success. Being Ghana’s first classical music festival, we were faced with several challenges regarding logistics and finances but were able to quickly and efficiently resolve them.
Our week started with orientation and my opening concert on Sunday, July 24. The program was very well received and included a world premier of a commission from composer Ethan Lodics.
On Monday, July 25 our lessons and classes began and continued through Saturday, July 30. Our schedule for the week included the following: five days of applied instrumental lessons, six days of instrument specific ensembles, cross studio ensemble rehearsals and coachings, eight lectures and three theory classes, one studio performance class, one open discussion between faculty and students, a demonstration of the Seprerwa from the lecturer of traditional Ghanaian instruments at the University of Ghana, a talk from the daughter of the Ghanaian music pioneer Ephriam Amu, Ms. Misonu Amu, seven faculty concerts, and a final student gala recital.
Our days were kept busy with constant music making, teaching, and learning by twenty-six students, seven applied instrument teachers, and four lecturers. Lecture topics included the “Art of Learning” and “Theory for the Intermediate Student” from Dr. Stephen Mattingly, “Solfege and Sight Singing” from Ms. Ciyadh Wells, “Theory for Beginners” by Dr. Joshua Amuah, and “Traditional Ghanaian Music” by Professor Timothy Andoh. Additional lecture spots were filled with an incredible demonstration of the Seprerwa by Professor Ose of the University of Ghana and by a very special presentation from Ms. Misonu Amu. Professor Ose demonstrated the Seprerwa with several performances of traditional pieces followed by a discussion of the instrument’s history and construction methods. Ms. Amu gave a very interesting discussion on her father’s involvement and influence in Ghanaian classical music through musical demonstrations and a history of her father’s life.
While this year was certainly a success from any vantage point, there are changes and improvements that will be made in the coming years in order to better serve Ghanaian students . This year’s impact was focused on a youth orchestra from Tema, mostly due to a lack of promoting within Ghana. Next year we will actively pursue a broader student base from all parts of Accra. We also have a very active interest from the Performing Arts Society of Lagos, Nigeria. While we want to be inclusive rather than exclusive our priority of target student is the high school student from Ghana. We predict a minimum of 40 students from the Accra area with active interest shown from the Tema Youth Orchestra, Genius Hive Community Music School, and the “Basic” Music School of Accra. This list does not include the potential for participation by international schools and public schools of the Accra area.
This year’s faculty did an incredible job of tackling every problem they were face with, from a lack of student resources such as music, reeds, and quality instruments, to a student base that was very new to certain instruments, to an overpopulated studio. With a maximum capacity of 5 students per studio, several studios were over populated with 8 or more students. Next year, with a student base of 40+ students, we will hire additional string teachers who will come from the US to teach in addition to the musicians from the Ghana National Symphony Orchestra. Faculty from the US will include: guitar, saxophone, violin, and potentially percussion.
We look forward to the next year and the incredible progress that we will make in the coming years. Thank you for your support.
Director, Ghana National Music Festival