Cape Symphony Explores Africa for Next Journey in the “Passport” Series

Abel Selaocoe (photo by Ben Bonouvrier)

Hyannis, MA – Rhythmic, melodic drumming. Eloquent and inspiring piano solos. Passport to Africa includes it all in an authentic tribute to the rich musical heritage of a continent whose people traditionally passed down stories and traditions through music.

The Cape Symphony will present a familiar Western view of African music alongside that of African and African-American artists. Ghanaian American pianist William Chapman Nyaho stars in “Africa” by Camille Saint-Saëns, written while the classical French composer was in Egypt and based on North African folk music.

South African cellist Abel Selaocoe has long explored the capacity of the cello across multiple genres, from collaborating with beatboxers and world musicians to giving concerto performances and solo classical recitals. For Passport to Africa, Selaocoe will be featured in the world premiere of “20th Meridian,” referring to the central longitude which runs through several African countries. It’s a musical journey that takes the listener through the heart of the continent.

While continuing his musical studies in the U.K., Selaocoe is involved with many fascinating projects including the Multi-Story Orchestra, an ensemble of young professional musicians who share a commitment to widening accessibility to classical music. Multi-Story performs in parking garages around the U.K., attracting huge, diverse audiences.

“Abel’s love of music, deep African roots, and ability to connect with audiences of all kinds will bring a level of authenticity and electricity to this presentation that can’t be paralleled. Nyaho, a scholar of African and African Diaspora composers as well as an electrifying pianist, will present his take on a classical Western interpretation of African music. And it will all be stunningly beautiful,” said Artistic Director & Conductor Jung-Ho Pak.

Passport to Africa will also highlight local artists’ interpretations of Africa in cooperation with the Zion Union Heritage Museum, located in Hyannis, with the mission to celebrate the African-American and Cape Verdean population as well as other ethnic and demographic diversity of the Town of Barnstable and Cape Cod.

In honor of Martin Luther King, Reverend Joan M. Martin, Ph.D., Pastor at Christian Union Church in North Truro, and Dr. Johann Buis of Wheaton College will lend their voices in a powerful presentation where Buis will read text written by Nelson Mandela during his imprisonment, and Rev. Martin will read Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

“The moving connection between these two icons of social justice who were imprisoned because of their principles of equality will be set to music and text in a dramatic way,” said Pak. The Martin Luther King Action Team of the Nauset Interfaith Association is providing a study guide for local groups (community, church, synagogue, mosque, etc.) interested in studying Dr. King’s extraordinary “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” For more information, please contact The Rev. David Purdy at [email protected] or 508-430-1422 or Fr. Ken Campbell at [email protected] or 413-478-5719.

The Cape Symphony is proud to feature Abel Selaocoe and William Chapman Nyaho in Passport to Africa on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 26 at 3:00 p.m. at the Barnstable Performing Arts Center, 744 West Main Street, Hyannis.  For more information or to purchase tickets visit capesymphony.org or call the Box Office at 508-362-1111.

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