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Composer describes music as  strong tool for social reformation



Israel Echie, the music director at St. Albert the Great Major Seminary, Abeokuta, has called on the government and the private sector to support the industry to grow.


Echie told the News Agency of Nigeria said on Thursday in Lagos that the sector was also a strong tool for social reformation.


He  said that most developed countries had benefitted from such investments.


“In most developed world, life is spiced by the basic knowledge of music, children learn how to play musical instruments and this makes them develop credible minds.


“Any investment in music by the government will be a gigantic stride because music is one sector of the entertainment industry that can generate huge revenue.’’


He , therefore, advised the government to invest in people identified to have talents in music.


The specialist in Gregorian chants also appealed to private entrepreneurs to invest part of their funds in the music industry.


He said that the music industry would be able to compete with the oil sector in few decades to come if given a boost.


The composer and arranger of both sacred and contemporary music also said, “All through the years of human existence, music has remained an integral aspect in the journey of reformation.


“Music and society have always been inextricably related because it creates and reflects social conditions-including factors that either facilitates or impede social change.”


According to the pianist, music is a way of life which takes listeners to us where words cannot.


He added that music also served as a voice of caution and for societal redirection.


The music lecturer noted that when people engaged in bad deeds, and they listen to some music, their lyrics could make them regret their wrong actions.


According to him, such musical lyrics include: “ise agbe ni ise ile wa”, “akwukwo na-ato uto”, “bata mi a dun ko nko ka”, “omo mi a see ohun rere  tire a dara o”, and many others.


Echie also said that musicians had used their music as a medium to communicate with the government on how good or bad their policies had been on the society.


He said that the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Chief Ebenezer Obey, and many others sang songs on political and social issues as they affected the society.


He also said that the Nigerian Music Industry (NMI) had grown over the years.


He said that the NMI in the early years of Nigeria’s nationhood enjoyed music that centred       around freedom, the nation’s independence and dignity of human beings.


Echie, however, expressed concern over the contents of music composed by contemporary artists.


“One basic reformation that any music requires is the quality embedded in it. Sadly, people just go to the studio, create beats and anything goes.


“Quality beat without content is noise, and it will lead to producing songs which cannot stand the test of time both in the secular and in the religious worlds.


“Even, the so called worship music has only become a hybrid of pop music.”







Mozart, World famous composer’s shoe buckle fetches 12,500 Euros



A shoe buckle owned by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of the world’s famous composer has been auctioned for 12,500 Euros (14,500 dollars) in Vienna.

The show was handed down by the family of the famous composer’s shoemaker since the 18th century.

“The buyer of the sale that ended on Monday wished to stay anonymous,’’ a Dorotheum spokeswoman told newsmen on Tuesday.

The price was far above the estimated value of between 2,000 and 4,000 Euros that had been set by the Dorotheum auction house.

The unknown collector will receive the engraved metal piece in an ornate reliquary shrine, accompanied by a hand-written letter of authenticity.

In the letter, Marie Buehn writes that the buckle was passed down for generations, starting with her great-grandfather Matthias Knoller, the Vienna master shoemaker who made Mozart’s footwear.

Mozart required the services of Vienna’s fashion artisans not only because of his expensive taste, but also because of his lively performance style.

According to a 19th-century biographer, in the spring of 1789, the composer conducted a concert in Dresden and kept the time by stamping his foot so forcefully that he broke a shoe buckle.

Edited by: Abiodun Oluleye/Ekemini Ladejobi

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World Environment Day: Group urges collective efforts to protect biodiversity



An environmental rights focused group, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), has  called for urgent and collective efforts to protect and preserve biodiversity.

The Foundation in a statement issued on Friday to commemorate the World Environment Day, stressed the importance of biodiversity and the need to preserve it.

HOMEF in the statement signed by its Project Officer, Mfoniso Antia, and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria , noted that biodiversity was a fundamental part of a healthy ecosystem.

“Biodiversity is life. It is the hanger that sustains human existence. It helps maintain the balance of ecosystems and keeps them functioning and self-sustaining. A continued destruction of biodiversity will mean a distortion of the balance of life.

“Food production systems depend on the diversity of organisms including the plants, plant eaters, carnivores, decomposers (microorganisms) and the pollinators all of whose activities are interconnected.

“Biodiversity is linked to the resilience of ecosystems. In agriculture, it ensures resilience to the impacts of climate change.”

The statement quoted one of HOMEF’s volunteers, Benita Siloko as saying that: “The functioning of ecosystems and the services they provide depend on biodiversity and environmental condition.

“Given that human activities are causing loss of biodiversity and changing environmental conditions, it is necessary that these consequences are better understood to enable societal responses and actions.

“Attention is called to the fact that millions of species of plants and animals are at the brink of extinction mainly due to human activities.

“Deforestation, overhunting/overfishing, oil pollution, genetic modification of crops/excessive use of toxic chemicals are some of our activities which threaten biodiversity.

“The erosion of biodiversity will have serious implication on food production and ecosystems resilience. Consequences of biodiversity loss also include the emergence and spread of diseases such as COVID-19 amongst humans,” Siloko was quoted as saying.

The group recommended that to preserve biodiversity, a multi stakeholders’ collaboration was required.

According to the group, the team of young environmentalists and ecological defenders, governments, private sector and the general public should collectively make efforts to preserve biodiversity.

The team outlined the following as some of the ways to protect biodiversity:

“We must shift from the mind set of competition that entrenches the harms done to the environment, while in pursuit of economic growth. We need to work in harmony with nature instead of against it.

“We should leave what is in the wild in the wild and desist from over consumption. We should stop pollution and learn to live sustainably with respect for natural laws and cycles.”

HOMEF stressed that government needed to make and implement laws to protect endangered species.

“We should focus on eco-friendly approaches to global challenges, including those of food and climate change.

“It is time to respect the integrity of our biodiversity and thus ward off intrusion of viruses such as the new coronavirus. A healthy biodiversity supports a healthy population,” the group said

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Obike Ukoh (NAN)



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Feature: Nigerians mourn African music artist Majek Fashek




Nigerians on Tuesday mourned legendary singer Majek Fashek who died in New York at the age of 57 — marking the end of an illustrious career over a span of three decades.

The guitarist and song composer, whose real name was Majekodunmi Fasheke, died in his sleep, said his manager Omenka Uzoma.

“He’s done a lot for Nigeria and Africa. This is a time for us all to celebrate his achievements, and not mourn,” said Uzoma.

Millions of his fans have paid tribute to the music talent on social media. “Legends don’t die. They live in our hearts forever,” said Oluwatosin Nwodo, a reggae enthusiast who described herself as one of Fashek’s hardcore fans.

Majek Fashek was a quintessential legend whose works will live forever … For he was a soldier and tool for change that reggae musicians are, symbolically,” Nwodo further wrote in a short tribute on Facebook.

Fashek shot to stardom in the 1980s. His musical style resembled Bob Marley, one of the pioneers of reggae music, who had a great influence on Fashek.

Through his inspirational reggae music, “Majek Fashek was a rare gift to mankind,” said Felix Duke, president of Nigeria’s Creative Industry Group.

“His music was always positive, his lyrics unique; a rare breed. Majek Fashek inspired his generation and a lot of us, even the new generation, through his music,” said Duke.

Local media reported that the cause of his death is not clear for now, but he had been ill for some time.

In December 2005, while preparing for a music tour, Fashek said his own death would only occur after his music reached every part of the world.

“I’m not gonna die until my music reaches the ends of the earth,” the African singer told his close associate and former record label owner Charles Novia in a private chat released on Tuesday.

In 2015, there was a hiatus in his career when he landed in a drug rehabilitation center in Nigeria’s capital city Abuja, where he recovered and then returned to music.

“I will always remember Majek Fashek for writing Free Africa, Free Mandela, a song he made to lend a voice for the release of Nelson Mandela, then a leader of the African National Congress in South Africa,” said Sammy Wonder, a Nigerian music instructor.


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Playing to an empty room: Paris orchestra plays Strauss in COVID-19 era



Renaud Capuçon, a French concert violinist accustomed to playing to rooms of 2,000 people and more, performed on Thursday evening to an empty auditorium, but he said the experience was none the worse for it.

“It’s like a return to life,” he said of the performance, his first at the Philharmonie de Paris concert hall since the COVID-19 outbreak forced the cancellation of all concerts back in March.

“We’re all very happy to … play again after the long period when everything was closed. It’s a real rebirth.”

Capuçon and his 23-person string orchestra on Thursday evening performed “Metamorphosen,” a piece by German composer Richard Strauss.

The auditorium, which can seat up to 2,400 people, was empty, apart from one or two staff members wearing surgical masks – complying with a French government ban on mass gatherings still in force even as some other restrictions have been eased.

The members of the orchestra themselves were not required to wear masks, but had to stay seated at least 1 meter (1.09 yards) away from each other on the concert hall stage.

The audience was virtual: people watching and listening at home via a live stream on the concert hall’s website.

Capuçon said that the previous times he had played the Strauss piece, a mournful composition that ends on a sombre note, he always felt it would be appropriate if there were no applause.

The COVID-19 outbreak now means that the ending of the performance is met with silence.

“It suits perfectly,” said the musician.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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Warsaw’s open-air Chopin concerts move online due to coronavirus



Lovers of Frederic Chopin’s music who usually flock to a central Warsaw park on Sundays for open-air concerts, will have to go online this season to hear the weekly performances because of restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The concerts are a key event in the Polish capital’s summer cultural calendar, with performers serenading citizens in the elegant setting of the Royal Lazienki Park with concertos, nocturnes and other masterworks by the great romantic composer.

But for the first time in more than six decades, the green square dotted with benches near a statue of Chopin had only pre-recorded music pouring from loud speakers on Sunday, when according to tradition the first outdoor concert of the season had been due to start.

Chopin fans who didn’t come to the park could also go onto YouTube to hear the first concert, featuring Polish pianist Karol Radziwonowicz, which had been pre-recorded in the park’s Orangery.

The decision to livestream the concerts, a result of the restrictions on public gatherings, was unsettling, said Andrzej Matusiak, director of Stoleczna Estrada, the group that organizes the annual event.

“The concerts we recorded happened without the public. It was weird, it was surprising, for us and for the pianists.

“They were playing and there was no audience, no applause at the end,” said Matusiak.

The Sunday outdoor concerts began in 1959 in honour of a composer whose music is deeply tied up with Polish national identity.

Chopin statue, erected in 1926, was blown up by the Nazis in 1940 during their brutal occupation of Poland and its reconstruction was a reaffirmation of national pride.

“(The statue) is something sacred for us, it is our (national) treasure,” said Teresa Poniemierska, a regular frequenter of the open air concerts who was out for a stroll in the park on Sunday.

She welcomed the decision to livestream the concerts in view of the current lockdown restrictions, saying they would give Chopin music lovers “some satisfaction”.

“No one can imagine that, after 60 years, we won’t have Chopin’s music in Warsaw in May,” Matusiak said.

The open-air concerts run from May till September. It remains unclear when Warsaw will lift its ban on public gatherings, though Matusiak said he hoped it would be before September to allow the resumption of the concerts in the park.

Poland, a nation of 38 million people, has so far reported 18,394 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 919 deaths.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)

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Rihanna debuts on Sunday Times Rich List of musicians at no.3



Singer Rihanna has stormed into the Sunday Times Rich List of musicians at number three, with an estimated wealth of 468 million pounds ($576 million), thanks partly to the success of her fashion and cosmetics brands with Louis Vuitton-owner LVMH.

Barbados-born Rihanna, 32, now based in London, leapfrogged some of Britain’s most famous musicians such as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones, Elton John and Rod Stewart into the list of the country’s most wealthy.

Hit musical composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and former Beatle Paul McCartney jointly top the list with some £800 million each.

Known for her daring, colourful looks on the red carpet, Rihanna has become an increasingly influential force in the fashion world as well as having eight hit album.

“Rihanna typifies the seismic change we’ve seen in the Rich List in recent years.

“Once dominated by inherited wealth, the bulk of our 1,000 entries are now self-made people with modest and even troubled starts in life who are driven to work exceptionally hard,” said Robert Watts, compiler of the list.

Ed Sheeran tops the ranks of Britain’s richest young musicians (aged 30 or under) with a fortune of £200 million.

“Touring remains the big earner for many of the stadium-filling acts on our musicians’ list,” Watts said.

“But the Covid outbreak has wrecked concert plans and so we expect the wealth of many of these musicians will flatline over the coming year.”

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Ekemini Ladejobi (NAN)

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Over 1,000 Finns sing distantly to observe National Veterans Day




As Finland observed the National Veterans Day on Monday, over 1,000 people joined in a distanced singing of the Finlandia hymn composed by well-known Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957).

The performance replaced most of the traditional observances due to the COVID-19 epidemic, as the Finnish government has forbidden the gathering of more than 10 people. It was later published on the government website showing a collage of all the 1,075 singers and the conductor.

In his message on Monday, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto compared the contribution of the war veterans to the efforts required in the current health crisis. “Under the new threat, we keep in mind the message of the veterans about overcoming the impossible through acting together and trusting each other,” said Niinisto.

Niinisto also gave the traditional thanks to the veterans for enabling Finland “to remain a free and democratic nation.” There are still 9,500 World War II veterans now living in Finland.

The music piece Finlandia was composed in 1900. It is one of the most famous Finnish music works. The current lyrics of Finlandia were written during World War II by Finnish poet V.A. Koskenniemi.

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General news

Fayemi mourns ace musician Victor Olaiya



  Gov. Kayode Fayemi  of Ekiti State on Thursday  commiserated with the family of the doyen of High-life Music, Dr Victor Olaiya, who died on Wednesday at 89.

According to him, Ekiti State and Nigeria have lost a global music icon in the passage of Dr Olaiya.

He described him as one of the foremost and finest musicians in the country.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Olayinka Oyebode, the governor described the Ijesa-Isu Ekiti-born musician  as “Ekiti’s precious and priceless gift to the whole world”.

He noted that the late Olaiya was a passionate singer, great entertainer, multi-talented instrumentalist and composer who had a good mastery of the stage.

The governor said he was consoled knowing that Olaiya did not only live long, but lived well and impacted many lives through his music before taking his final bow.

He added that it was the impact and uniqueness of Olaiya’s music that earned him the Ekiti State Honour in 2011, in addition to a car gift.

Fayemi further said that “Dr Olaiya’s name has been eternally etched in the Nigerian music hall of fame, for creating an identity for himself as a multi-talented musician.”

“Although Dr Olaiya is dead, his legacies will continue to live on especially in the hearts of millions of his admirers all over the world.

“On behalf of the government and people of Ekiti State, I commiserate with the family of the late Dr Olaiya.

“I urge the children to be consoled with the fact that Baba lived well, made a name for himself, and was honoured in his life time.

“Our prayer is that God will grant him eternal rest.”

Edited By: Emmanuel Nwoye/Donald Ugwu

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Remarks by Ambassador Michael Raynor at Girma Yifrashewa’s “Bridging Cultures” Concert




By Ambassador Michael Raynor

Distinguished colleagues,

Guests and friends,

Good evening.

It’s a great pleasure to join you for a wonderful night of music. Let me start by saying how pleased and grateful the United States Embassy is to be side-by-side with three wonderful co-sponsors in hosting tonight’s event. Ethiopian Airlines, the Skylight Hotel, and ArtsTV have all been fantastic partners, and this evening wouldn’t have been possible without their support.

And of course, this evening truly wouldn’t be possible without the star of the show, an exceptional pianist and composer and a wonderful friend, Mr. Girma Yifrashewa. Many of you are here tonight because you already know how captivating Girma’s music and performances always are. And if tonight’s your first opportunity to hear Girma play, you’re in for an extraordinary revelation.

What makes Girma such a compelling artist is not only that he’s a virtuoso pianist, but that he puts his virtuosity to the service of blending classical and Ethiopian music, and to building bridges between people through shared and transcendent musical experiences. Girma has performed and promoted Ethiopian and classical music, including his own compositions, throughout the African continent and worldwide, with recent tours to Egypt, Mozambique, South Africa, Italy, Germany, and the United States.

Tonight we’re thrilled that he’s here with all of us, in our shared home of Addis Ababa, to perform a program called “Bridging Cultures.” Girma will not only feature his own compositions this evening, but will generously share the spotlight with an important but somewhat forgotten American composer, whose work is undergoing a bit of a rediscovery thanks, in large part, to Girma.

I’m referring to the mid-19th-century American romantic composer and pianist, Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Just like Girma, Gottschalk was a virtuoso musician. And just like Girma, Gottschalk was a composer who, as the title of tonight’s program suggests, “bridged cultures.” By blending classical European musical traditions with Caribbean, Creole, and African-American melodies and rhythms, Gottschalk created music that was groundbreaking during his time, and that remains captivating to this day.

And Gottschalk was, himself, a bridge of cultures:  the son of a German Jewish father and a French Creole mother. As such, he was a quintessential American, and his music remains quintessentially American as well. But it’s music that we hope will also resonate with an audience from Ethiopia and around the world, and as you hear Girma play Gottschalk tonight, you’ll hear the extraordinary understanding that exists between performer and composer.

Recently, Girma spent an extended sojourn in the United States, in partnership with the prestigious University of Pennsylvania, recording the works of Gottschalk and helping to introduce him to modern-day audiences. We’re enormously grateful to Girma for his commitment to helping the world rediscover a fascinating American composer:  a commitment that embodies the broader partnership and understanding that exists between Ethiopia and the United States, and that exemplifies the power of music to bring people together.

In conjunction with Girma’s project, we were pleased to support the production of a new CD entitled The Banjo, which features Girma performing some of Gottschalk’s most significant compositions. We invite each of you to take a complimentary copy of this wonderful CD home with you, as a memento of tonight’s performance. I’ve talked far too long, particularly given that none of you came here to hear me talk at all, but before I stop, I want to take a brief moment to thank and commend the three young musicians who’ll be kicking off our concert tonight.

Having studied piano myself as a kid, many years ago, I definitely didn’t have either the talent or the courage these young people are about to display. And it’s wonderful that each of their performances will be linked, one way or another, to Girma himself, and I’ll let you look at your programs to figure out how. Thank you all for being here this evening.  And sincerest thanks, once again, to Girma and our co-sponsors – Ethiopian Airlines, the Skylight Hotel, and ArtsTV – for the wonderful experience we’re about to have. I wish you all a great evening of musical enjoyment.

Thank you.

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