In the Spirit of Easter

As part of efforts to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Fountain of Hope Society organised its 2016 Easter Cantata at the Archbishop Vining Memorial Church Cathedral in Lagos, reports Ugo Aliogo
The evening was filled with grace and splendour. The litany of classical renditions from the various singing groups and the cathedral choir helped to make the day a wonderful experience. At each presentation, there was a showcase of excellence, laced with energy and verve.
The orchestra team displayed perfect dexterity of the musical instruments, supplying the best melodious tunes to each presentation. The guests were bedecked in their best attires. They looked beautiful, with faces beaming with smiles. It was indeed an occasion fit for royals and elites. The ambience of the atmosphere paid credence to this fact.
The celebration was the 2016 Easter Cantata organised by the Fountain of Hope Society (FOH10NG), a pious society in Archbishop Vinning Memorial Church Cathedral, Ikeja, Lagos State, at the church premises.
Easter cantata is choral composition for one or more voices usually comprising solos, duets, recitatives, and choruses and sung to an instrumental accompaniment. The tradition which has been practiced for centuries, consists of a piece of music for singers and instruments, that usually has several parts known as movements and often has a religious subject
Studies revealed that the cantata originated in the early 17th century simultaneously with opera and oratorio. The studies also noted that with the rise of instrumental music, the term appeared, while the instrumental art became sufficiently developed to be embodied in sonatas.
From the beginning of the 17th to late 18th century, the cantata for one or two solo voices with the accompaniment of basso continuo (and perhaps a few solo instruments) was a principal form of Italian vocal chamber music. George Handel’s numerous Italian duets and trios are examples of the cantata on a large scale. His Latin motet Silete Venti, for soprano solo, shows the use of this form in church music.
One of the highlights of the evening was the musical presentation by the FOH voices. The presentation which was done in Yoruba language thrilled the congregation. For some minutes, there were questions amongst the congregation if the other presentation could equal the performance of the FOH voices.
With the exit of the FOH voices, it was time for another presentation. This time, the presentation was from a Yoruba dance group known as Ayan Jesu. It was a group of four young men, three of whom were carrying local music instruments. They were dressed in traditional blue Yoruba attire, while the other individual was the song leader.
The song leader swept the congregation off their feet, when he began in melodious Yoruba songs. For a long time, the congregation was dancing to the songs, as the song leader kept switching from one song to another, but retained the flow of excitement.
When it was time for the Ayan Jesu dance group to leave, the crowd clamoured for encore. But an adage has it that even the best of dancers will one day take the spectator’s seat. From their display on stage, one could see a flow of rhythm and energy.
As the celebration moved from one realm to another, the congregation remained glued to their seats clamouring for more spectacles. The series of George Handel’s songs from the cathedral choir ensured that the congregation never experienced a dull moment.
To bring the evening to a close, the youth choir was invited on stage.  The youth choir used the opportunity to cut a slice in the entertainment cake. They put an icing on the cake with a masterpiece performance to the admiration of all and sundry.
One unique feature about their presentations was the passion and energy of the soloists. The congregation could rarely differentiate between the singer and the international worship singing sensation Cece Winas. She kept the atmosphere in the mood of worship. One could hardly doubt, if the presence of God was not there. It was indeed a perfect ending to the Easter cantata. The memory of the event will linger on for years to come.
In his welcome address, the Chairman of the Cantata Planning Committee, Prince Femi Tejuoso, stated that the event which is a compilation of several sacred compositions was aimed at celebrating the triumph of Jesus Christ over death 2000 years, “it also focuses on the glorious ascension, which is the foundation of Christian faith.”
Tejuoso explained that the FOH was charged to host the 11th cantata by the founding Bishop of the Diocese, Rev. Peter Awelewa Adebiyi, adding that the celebration began since 2005 and “we have been doing this annually over this period to the glory of God.”
He added that, “This annual Easter cantata hosting has been one of the avenues through which the FOH has been able to fulfill one of its cardinal objectives of evangelism in the Diocese of Lagos West. To this end, we have been able to contribute to funding projects within the Diocese through the support from friends.”
The President of the FOH, Mr. Femi Olutayo, expressed satisfaction that the event was successful for members of the FOH and a blessing to the church.