Our BEATS & EATS concert last night had a magical quality to it. The stage of the First Unitarian Congregation is backed by walls of windows overlooking the Ottawa river. As the concert progressed, the sun was setting through the tree branches behind us, darkening the background, as our stage lights gradually illuminated the performers and instruments. The classical harps and Ghanaian drums looked magnificent together, as if the two styles had been collaborating for years!
The pre-concert reception featured Ghanaian food treats from Mugena, and guests milled around chatting over some great African tunes, some reconnecting from past Baobab years, some from our adult drum class the night before and many others!
Our guests, the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy Intermediate Harp Ensemble, led by director Michelle Gott, opened the show with some of their group repertoire. The melodic and percussive sounds of the harps were a great way to get us started.
After some creative bell playing in Hatsiatsia, Baobab Youth joined forces with the amazing Kwasi Dunyo, our special guest artist for the evening. Kwasi and myself played off each other on the two lead drums of Kinka, while the youth enthusiastically drummed responses and created a fun groove for all. This was one of the pieces the group learned in Ghana on the Footsteps to Ghana tour 2017, so it was wonderful to recreate that environment with Kwasi.
A highlight was collaborating with the harp ensemble. We envisioned the harps as trees when we performed our Bell Forest piece, highlighting sounds from the Ghana rainforest, including contributions from the harps. Next we added drums and axatse to their beautiful River Right Rhumba piece, composed by Laura Zaerr, channeling the sounds of the kora, a West African gourd harp.
The Baobab Youth shone in the next couple of stick drumming pieces, Gota (a favourite study piece in Ghana) and Danse Guerriere.We brought Master Drummer Kwasi Dunyo back for the final set, Zigi, Gahu and our finale Kpanlogo which featured alumnae and audience participation. A totally fun and beautiful evening!
Many thanks to the Baobab Board of Directors, Evie Gray, Kerry Gogush Cule, Tanis Stoliar, Dalton Holloway, Sam Bonti-Ankomah, Nadine Powers and Cathy Sandiford. We also couldn’t have done it without parent volunteers, as well as Rory Magill, Hayley de Bie and Dave Hennessy. Special thanks to Ian Holland for all these photos.