According to one of the MTN Foundation representatives, who has never missed any of the 12 graduation ceremonies, the 2019 set of graduating students is “The best, so far.” Princes Banke Ademola, Director, School of Music also corroborated this claim in her parting words.
The Graduation concert started exactly 6:05pm. Even before 6.00pm, the Recital Hall was full to the brim and even spewing. How MUSON managed to deliver Nigerians of the Nigerian-time syndrome is still a mystery – but then, who underestimates the power of music?
To begin the plethora of music of the evening, Jonathan Anuforo (clarinet) lead a string quintet (group of 5 strings) in F.K Krommar’s “Concert in Eb”. Then the graduating students, (30 of them) conducted by Sir. Emeka Nwokedi, Deputy Director, School of Music, blessed the evening with “May the Road Rise to Meet You – An Irish Blessing”, Lori Tune. Following was an Oboe duet by Joseph Shaibu (the outgoing students’ president) and Ukamba Daniel, accompanied by Odeke Macartan on the piano.
Daniel Okereke kick started the solo performances with “Core Ngrato” Ungrateful heart by Salvatore Cardillo. His robust voice hit the hall in all angles with precision as he spilled the Italian language as if his mother’s tongue. Daniel ended his performance with a high Bb that raised wigs of the females in the hall. Folowing this was a duet by John Onosolease (baritone) and Olivia Nwabudike (soprano) “Nel Blu di Pinto di Blu – Volare” In the Blue Painted Blue by Dominico Modungo. We all know blue is the colour of love, yeah? So there’s no point to say much. It is worthy of note that John wore a fitting blue suite for this duet, while Olivia was in a prim cream dress. End the story yourself.
Trumpeter, Oluwamayowa Ogundipe, accompanied by Samuel Aina (piano), took the crowd to Venice when he played “Carnival of Venice” by Herbert L. Clarke. Singers like Jeniifer Mduka (soprano) steal songs from composers and make them their own. This is what she did with Victor Herbent’s “Art is Calling for Me”. She performed with all her avoirdupois and her tralala-lala (lyrics from the piece) and made the crowd fall in love with her energetic and sassy voice. She’s the kind we want to see in Opera either as the lovely heroine, sexy side chick, or the angry step sister – any role, we just want to see her, hear her, love her.
Joseph Shaibu, again, but this time with the saxophone, accompanied by Jackreece Samuel (piano), Onwona Samuel (keyboard), and Anjola Adeosun (drums), performed “Cheng Fu” Conquered by Dave Koz. Sounds like KungFu, right?
The evening was not only for western music, Jackreece Smauel and Ajayi Babajide treated the crowd to Victor Uwaifo’s “Joromi” in a piano duet. Shallom Mathew (Tenor) brought down the spirit with the negro spiritual “Witness” arranged by Moses Hogan. Shallom’s voice has a personality of its own, such that, when the singer mounted the stage, the crowd was already cheering praises. Indeed, he didn’t fail. When he mimicked Samson’s wife in a playful-serious falsetto, the cheer grew louder. It is not only Shallom’s voice that has a personality of its own, his dressing, too. The singer won stares with his neat cut black suite and soft-coloured scarf, draping from his neck, knee length. Another lovely soprano, Chiwendu Okorie performed Leonard Bernstein’s “I Feel Pretty – West Side Story”. One could tell the singer really felt pretty, she wasn’t just singing, she was living it. And boy, was she pretty!
Next, was “Spanish Flea” by Julius Watcher performed by five trumpeters (Oluwamayowa Ogundipe, Asuquo Archibong, Adedayo Adenuga, Olatoye Abiola, Kehinde Omosor) with Anjolaoluwa Adeosun (drums) and Sunmiboye Ayoola (Xylophone/Maracas). Daniel Etim (Baritone), sang Sheldon and Jerry’s “If I were a Rich Man” with the strong baritone of Abuja rich men with pot bellies and many oilwells in their backyards.
Flutists were not left out in the duet list. Caleb Kadien and Abiola Gbemileke played “Time to Say Goodbye” by Francesco Sartori. With her rich contralto voice, Ireti Fashina, backed by Shallom, sang “Confidence” by Steffany Gretinger. The lyrics: I’m confident your faithfulness will see me true, is but Ireti’s strong affirmation that as she leaves the diploma music school, His faithfulness will guide her steps. Powerful.
The choir sang a Concert Medley by Andew Lliyd Webber, Abba Medley, and ended with a wonderful rendition of the hymn: Old hundredth, by Louis Bourgeois. Kwame Onwona (piano) performed his own composition titled “Goodbye” before the graduating set returned to perform “Shadowland” by Hans and Lebo.
To wrap the evening with a perfect bow, the choir performed “MTN – Thank You” composed by Odeke Macartan to show thanks and appreciation to the MTN Foundation that has been offering financial support in full scholarships for the students since 14 years ago, when the initiative was born.
In her closing remark, Princes Banke Ademola, collecting how entertained the crowd was, called for partnership, more sponsorship, and patronage. Selection for the two year diploma studies is a very competitive one, and prospective students can apply to hone their musical talents to profitable, world class skills.
MUSON also runs a basic school for everyone, including tom, dick, and harry. Literally.
From me, myself and I, we say, again, Congratulations to the 2019 set. Go out and dominate!
John is a Nigerian Baritone, Falsettist, and a Writer. He is the first runner up for the Kingsley Inuope Idegun Memorial Award for Countertenors. His literary works have been published on online magazines like KalahariReview, PraxisOnline, AfroAnthologySeries, et al. He blogs stories on nighttalesng.wordpress.com