23 Dec 2012

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A charity Christmas concert held in Lagos seeks to raise funds for primary schools. Karen Eloke Young savours the delight of this recent event

Music expresses so many things that cannot be said, that which cannot remain bound in silence; without music life would be a dreary and numb existence and there is no time as appropriate for the celebration of music than the yuletide season.
With the dry breeze of Harmattan slowly making its way to this part of the country and the smell of Christmas already mingling with the anticipation of celebration in the air ArtColony International made good on their promise to thrill all in their Christmas Magic Goodwill concert.

Christmas Magic was born from the desire to use the arts to promote social awareness as well as provide a means to creatively initiate sustainable and well-needed development in at least one community every year.

Effectively combining both prime entertainment, promotion of young talented artistes as well as community development, Christmas Magic embraces a concert-competition format with an altruistic view. The first edition of Christmas Magic, which held just two years ago in 2010, generated a lot of positive feedback, which encouraged its organisers to make a commendable effort to keep the show running over the years.

However being the first of its kind in this part of the country it failed to generate any funds but ArtColony International were not deterred by this setback, they stayed true to their mission and established a relationship between the chosen community (Makoko) and Kunle Adeyemi (of NLE Architects) in a bid to improve the facilities of Whanyinna Community School in Makoko, Lagos State.

In the subsequent year (2011), Christmas Magic showed a noticeable greater promise and a more varied audience with the introduction of a new segment as well as an income of N50, 000 that obviously did not even begin to meet all their needs. Still undeterred the money was put to use in supplying five computer systems to the chosen community, which was SOS Children’s village, Isolo, Lagos State.

In the year 2012, ArtColony International held steadfast to their focus, which is the education sector, but this time their objective was to raise one million naira towards the improvement of literacy within selected primary institutions in Lagos state. Their choice of primary education is premised on the understanding that it forms the basic foundation for learning. Besides this, it is also their way of contributing to the attainment of the second item of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals in our society, which simply put, is the achievement of universal primary education.

The event, which held on Saturday December 15, 2012 at the Agip Recital Hall of MUSON Centre was hosted by Ben Ogbeiwi and it was unarguably an enlivening occasion that featured seasoned performers representing five community schools in Lagos state. While it seemed like a competition, it really wasn’t; as Suzie-May Ogunseitan who is the artistes, programmes and events officer of the musical Society of Nigeria, MUSON explained – “This is but a fore-taste of the Schools Art competition scheduled to commence next year, being hosted by the same organisation (ArtColony International). However, two contestants will be announced as the winner of the Magi Contest”.

The community schools represented in the competition were Oluwole Primary School, Akoka Primary School, Military Primary School, National Primary School and Herbert Macaulay Primary School. To ensure the successful implementation of the final project, ArtColony international worked with already established foundations dedicated to primary education and their focus was to contribute to school renovation/restoration, supply of school furniture for the teachers and the restoration of basic amenities such as restrooms in the school.
Representing these five community schools were Oluwakemi Adetula a.k.a Irawo on the talking drum, Guchi Egbunine for vocals, Uduak Nsehe on the piano, Emmanuel Fagbohun on the violin and the Premier Clarinet Quartet.

The judges for the night’s contest were: Mrs. Olufunmi Olajoyegbe (Olufunmi), Mr. Seun Owoaje and Mr. Babatunde Sosan.
To get an idea of how impressive these representatives are in their different genres of music one simply has to have a brief knowledge of their talents.

Kemi also known as Irawo began her journey into professional music in 2006 after she graduated from the Olabisi Onanbanjo University, Ago-Iwoye with a degree in Accounting and subsequently gained a scholarship to study music at the Pencils Film and Television Institute (PEFTI) were she graduated with distinction.

Kemi whose genre of music is AfroJazz finds her sound in the percussion family, she plays the talking drum, drum set, Djembe, conga and other percussive instruments. On that night, Kemi treated the audience to a spectacular display of her talking drum prowess and also displayed her ability to diversify when she gave her contemporary performance to the accompaniment of the piano.

Next is Guchi Egbunine who is regarded as one of the most brilliant and flexible tenors in Nigeria today. A graduate of Music from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Guchi’s vocals rivals only the perfection of angels. The roar of applause after his two performances on the night of the event was a decisive acknowledgement of his immense talent.

The confidence of the next performer was immediately evident as he walked across the stage and took his seat behind the piano. Uduak Nsehe, a recent graduate of communications, public relations from Daystar University, Kenya is what can be described a s a self-taught musician whose love for music and the piano in particular has led him to great heights. Though he takes playing the piano seriously he maintained a curious playfulness that endeared him with the audience on that night. His classical and contemporary performance on that night was worthy of praise.

On the violin was Emmanuel Fagbohun, a musician who is gradually making his way to becoming one of the most renowned violinists in the country. Though Emmanuel started his journey into music in 1999 as a member of his church choir, his violin lessons began two years later under Segun Daniels and in 2005 he joined the Muson Symphony Orchestra under the directorship of Dr. Paul Konye, he graduated in 2009 with a MUSON diploma in Violin.

And last but not the least in the contest was the Premier Clarinet Quartet made up of Jeuseun Onifade (frist clarinet), Folashade Ajibade (second clarinet), Victor Ebegbuna (third clarinet) and Babalola Olusegun (bass clarinet).

Made up of individuals who have excelled as soloists, this quartet gave a brilliant performance that wowed the audience.
It really was a tough one for the judges but in the end violinist Emmanuel Fagbohun representing National Primary School won The Most Entertaining Act while Oluwakemi Adetula a.k.a Irawo representing Herbert Macaulay Primary School won The Christmas Magi.

But it wasn’t all about the contest on the night of the Christmas Magic Concert, there were also special performances by Scotland born Norman MacLeod, an accomplished piper in his own right who broke new grounds on the Nigerian contemporary music scene playing the highland bagpipes.

Seasoned gospel singer and vice president of the Society for Performing Arts, Olufunmi also gave a beautiful performance that night.
Overall it was a night that would resonate in the memories of all that were present thanks to the support of MUSON Centre and UBA and we cannot help but commend ArtColony International for putting together a spectacular show and wish them on to greater heights.
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