In 1890, the Romantic French composer Camille Saint-Saëns traveled to Ceylon, then to Alexandria and Cairo. During his travels, Saint-Saëns collected much of the region’s indigenous music, often transcribing themes on the spot. While in Egypt, he composed Africa, a fantasy for piano and orchestra based on genuine North African sources, including various songs and dances of Egypt and Algeria.
Obviously, an extraordinary pianist is required – and in this case, a pianist who has dedicated much of his career to the music of Africa and the African Diaspora. William Chapman Nyaho is a Ghanaian American pianist and professor of music who has won multiple awards for both roles. He will join us on January 25 and 26 for Passport to Africa.
Below is what the late Maya Angelou wrote for the liner notes of Chapman Nyaho’s CD Senku: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent. By the way, Senku is a Fanti (a language of Ghana) term for a keyboard instrument.
Chapman Nyaho has employed good research, exquisite musicianship, and courage, in selecting music for this debut CD. His research led him to find marvelous but little known composers in Africa, the Caribbean, England and the United States.
Chapman Nyaho, a famed concert pianist, chose compositions which allowed him to display his virtuosity. He is able to offer music, light, and sunny, which brings to mind the games of childhood's summer and in this same CD, music as majestic as the thrilling great chords found in "Deep River, I want to crossover into campground."
Chapman Nyaho's magnificent courage can be seen in his willingness to find the music, to select the music, and then offer the music to an audience, which for the most part, had never heard of these composers. That was wondrously brave.
This CD will provide moments of discovery so delicious, that the listeners will be made to laugh out loud and to compliment not just Dr. Chapman Nyaho, but themselves at their good fortune in finding these composers and this pianist.
I wish happy harmonies to Dr. Chapman Nyaho and I know the listeners will enjoy this CD and they should not be surprised if they start whistling the melodies, immediately.
Isn’t that extraordinary? We are so excited to have William Chapman Nyaho as our special guest for Passport to Africa and cannot wait for you to hear him. Tickets are selling fast for this special event. Visit capesymphony.org or call 508.362.1111.