The "Easter Cantata” classical music festival

By: Severious Kale-Dery
The master-pianist, Dean Nookadu
The master-pianist, Dean Nookadu

Classical music lovers had the worth of their money and even more at the Christ The King parish Hall on Easter Sunday when they were treated to the repertoire of the evergreen and contemporary pieces such as the Hallelujah, Ave Maria, Agnus Dei, Panis Angelicus, O Holy City, O Sole Mio, Granada and Casta Diva, by the Opera Mauritius.

It was a two-hour performance from 7pm to 9pm which featured internationally acclaimed and award winning singer Veronique Zuel and three other fantastic performers from Mauritius.

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Dubbed “2018 Easter Cantata” classical music festival on the Easter Sunday evening was a blend of folkloric and classical music.

It was a grand collaboration as the four-member team from Opera Mauritius had a blend of a Ghanaian folkloric performance with the Kyeremateng & Adinkra Dance Company fame.

It was first a curtain raiser performance by the Kyeremateng & Adinkra Dance Company, who warmed up the hall with splendid local performances such as the ‘adowa’, agbadza’ and the ‘keteke’ dances.

Adding fun to it the dancers often would randomly handpick some of the expatriates who were among the audience to dance with them to the admiration of the audience.

It was the master-pianist, Dean Nookadu, who gave a teaser with his dexterity on the baby-grand piano to draw the audience attention of what they were to witness, then followed immediately by the silky voice of the soprano, Veronique, to set the ball rolling.

Veronique and serious-looking baritone, Jean-Michel, opened the programme with a sterling performance of Panis Angelicus, followed by O Holy City by Veronique, while Jean-Michel performed the Agnus Dei.

For over an hour, the audience glued to their seats and often showed their appreciation at the end of each performance.

After a 15-minute break, then came the second part of the programme, when Darianna trilled the audience with some Mauritian folkloric music, composed by herself to campaign against social ills.

But it was her collaboration with Nana Kyeremateng of the Adinkra Dance Company fame that attracted the applause. As if the duo had been practising together over the years, they used their respective local instruments to change the soul soothing classical music tempo to a danceable instrumental blend of Mauritius ‘ravani’ and Ghana’s ‘dondo and seprewa’.

Performing the Sega, the Mauritius traditional music using the ‘ravani’ alongside the Akan language using the ‘dondo and seprewa’ backed by the internationally acclaimed and award winning Veronique and Jean-Michel with Dean Nookadu on the piano, the two folkloric musicians naturally clicked and were a delight to behold and no wonder they got the loudest applause.

It was more like a natural affinity between Mauritian and Ghanaian Folkloric music, a performance which looked bright for a future collaboration on the international stage.

The calibre of the guests that graced the event spoke volumes as eminent guests such as the Chief Justice of the Republic, Her Ladyship Sophia Akuffo, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, Most Rev Charles Palmer-Buckle, members of the diplomatic corps, the expatriate community savoured the evening with classical music lovers in the country.

Speaking in an interview after the performance, the Chairman of the CMAG Mr Alex K. Osei-Owusu said the presence of the audience and the eminent persons at the event was a sign that it was time to promote international and indigenous classical music as alternative serene and refreshing entertainment in the country.

He said the performance was the group’s second in the country, having held a successful performance in Kumasi and Accra in July last year and was convinced that classical music was here to stay, Ghanaians are once again handed the opportunity to experience yet another operatic and ballet performance by the Opera Mauritius.

Speaking on the benefits of classical music, Lawyer Osei-Owusu urged corporate bodies to sponsor the development of classical music in the country to serve as an alternative genre to other genre of music that promoted profanity, violence and social vices.

He noted that classical music, apart from its therapeutic effects was known to best help children and adults develop their imagination, focus and cognitive functions.

Lawyer Osei-Owusu announced that irrespective of the challenges associated with organising live classical music concerts and recitals in the country, “we shall see live performance of international class symphony and philharmonic orchestra in Ghana before the end of this year.”