A Celebration of Africa April 14 and 15

April 10th, 2007 by Adam

A Celebration of Africa April 14 and 15 brings together PSU Choirs, Keniston Kwaya, Pinkerton Academy, Manchester Chorale Society and N.H. Master Chorale

A stage is seldom too full of talented singers for Dan Perkins. So for a special program this spring, Perkins, who is professor of music, theatre, and dance and director of chorale programs at Plymouth State University, tapped the resources of all the groups he directs, plus Pinkerton Academy and a regional middle school choir to stage A Celebration of Africa April 14 at Plymouth State University and April 15 at Pinkerton. The Akwaaba Traditional African Drum and Dance Ensemble will also participate.

In addition to music from Ghana and Nigeria, the central piece of the program will be the U.S. premiere of Zulu Mass by Qinisela Sibisi. “I found the Zulu Mass when I was on sabbatical in South Africa.It had just been premiered there, and has not been performed anywhere else,” said Perkins.

There will be more than 300 singers for the final pieces on the concert.

Sibisi, a B.Mus. graduate of the University of Zululand, where he studied under the composer Khabi Mngoma, worked on his Mass for more than three years. According to a review in the South African Sunday Tribune in 2005, Sibisi used the Ordinary of the Mass as his framework, integrating the rhythms of isiZulu lyrics.

“Obviously influenced by the classical heritage of Haydn and Mozart, his stated intention was to highlight classical influences, combined with his Zulu musical heritage. The Mass follows traditional lines but it is sung entirely in Zulu. The opening phrases of the Kyrie establish the pattern of the music. There are Zulu rhythms and some of the melodies are probably rooted in Zulu folk music, but the work is neither particularly modern nor ethnic,” said Perkins.

To expand the influence of music, dance and visual art of myriad African cultures, Perkins invited other ensembles to participate, and widened the level of diversity by including music from Ghana and Nigeria.

“This experience will expose a wide range of singers, musicians and listeners to some of the diverse musical styles and languages of Africa,” Perkins said. All the singers have worked with a variety of African language coaches, including Thato Romaoki of Lisotho, Africa, a first-year student at Plymouth State University.

The performance at Plymouth State University will be
8 p.m. Saturday, April 14 at the Silver Center.
Tickets for the Plymouth Performance are $12 and $10 and are available at the Silver Center box office,(603) 535-ARTS.

At Pinkerton, the performance will be 4 p.m. Sunday, April 15 at the Stockbridge Theatre. Tickets for the Pinkerton performance are available at www.mcsnh.org, at the door, or from a choir member. Tickets for the Pinkerton performance are $12 and $10.

The Plymouth State University Chamber Singers is an auditioned vocal chamber ensemble of 26 students who are majoring, primarily, in voice performance/pedagogy, music education, theatre, and music theatre.

The Plymouth State University Chorale is a 60-member ensemble, open to all students, representing nearly every major on campus. They have performed major works by composers such as Verdi, Mozart, Durufle and Sibelius in collaboration with the Manchester Choral Society, Soca Sister Steel Band, Hotel Obligado, Hanover Chamber Orchestra and others.

The Manchester Choral Society, celebrating its 46th season, is one of the region’s most respected choral organizations. Singers range in age from high school to senior citizens with more than 50 years of choral singing experience, and come from communities as far away as Boston, Peterborough, Canterbury, Nashua, the Seacoast and Maine.

The New Hampshire Master Chorale is a nonprofit choir established in 2003. This premier chamber ensemble is dedicated to excellence in the art of choral music performance. Members are trained singers, auditioned from throughout New England, who have performed as soloists and in choral ensembles throughout the world.

The choirs of Pinkerton Academy, directed by Tom Quigley, are known for their excellent musicianship skills and diverse programming.

The newly formed Keniston Kwaya is a regional choir of select middle school singers interested in achieving the highest standard of choral singing for young voices. They are directed by well-known mezzo-soprano Eva Nagorka.

Akwaaba Traditional Drum and Dance Ensemble, an eight-member group of Ghanians directed by founder Theo Markey has performed in Ghana, England and U.S. since 2004. “Akwaaba,” meaning “welcome,” is the warm greeting with which Ghanians welcome visitors to their country.
Perkins is active as a guest conductor and clinician throughout the U.S. and abroad. In addition to directing the PSU choirs, the Manchester Choral Society and the N.H. Master Chorale, Perkins has been named Principal Guest Conductor for the Vietnam National Opera and Ballet in Hanoi.
For information about the program or the various groups contact Perkins at (603) 535-2367 or via e-mail to danp@plymouth.edu.
Plymouth State University (PSU) is a regional comprehensive university offering a rich, student-focused learning environment for both undergraduate and graduate students. PSU offers 42 majors and 62 minors in programs that include education, business, humanities, arts, and natural and social sciences. The College of Graduate Studies offers coursework that promotes research, best practices and reflection in locations on- and off-campus as well as online. For non-traditional students, PSU’s Frost School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers working professionals opportunities to pursue an undergraduate degree by attending classes in the evenings, weekends and online. Located in a beautiful New England setting, Plymouth State University has been recognized as one of the “Best in the Northeast” by The Princeton Review.