Ifé

Angélique Kidjo, Maki Namekawa, Tunde Jegede, Amsterdam Sinfonietta

Encounter between Africa and Western classics

Singer Angélique Kidjo sings about creation myths from Benin in her native language of Yoruba to music by minimal-composer Philip Glass. An evening that brings music styles and cultures together.

Philip Glass concluded his collaboration with Angélique Kidjo with the words: ‘Angélique, together we have built a bridge that no one has walked on before’.

Ifé is also the title of the evening programme that Holland Festival put together in collaboration with Amsterdam Sinfonietta and Angélique Kidjo, surrounding this ground-breaking work in which many more musical boundaries are crossed. In Concerto Grosso, composer Errollyn Wallen, born in Belize, mixes the old and the new: from baroque to jazz and minimal. And especially for this evening, Tunde Jegede, kora player, cellist and composer with Nigerian roots, has written a new arrangement for Exile & Return for West African kora and string orchestra in which he will perform as a soloist himself.

Encounter between Africa and Western classics

Singer Angélique Kidjo sings about creation myths from Benin in her native language of Yoruba to music by minimal-composer Philip Glass. An evening that brings music styles and cultures together.

Philip Glass concluded his collaboration with Angélique Kidjo with the words: ‘Angélique, together we have built a bridge that no one has walked on before’.

Ifé is also the title of the evening programme that Holland Festival put together in collaboration with Amsterdam Sinfonietta and Angélique Kidjo, surrounding this ground-breaking work in which many more musical boundaries are crossed. In Concerto Grosso, composer Errollyn Wallen, born in Belize, mixes the old and the new: from baroque to jazz and minimal. And especially for this evening, Tunde Jegede, kora player, cellist and composer with Nigerian roots, has written a new arrangement for Exile & Return for West African kora and string orchestra in which he will perform as a soloist himself.

The Japanese pianist Maki Namekawa has collaborated with Philip Glass before. She will be performing in different parts this evening, from Ifé to Young Apollo by composer Benjamin Britten - a familiar name at the Holland Festival. Kidjo will end the evening singing. Together with Amsterdam Sinfonietta, she performs her most beloved French chansons in surprising arrangements, she sings a classical song by Erik Satie, to end with some of her own most popular songs.

Programme

Tunde Jegede (1972)

Still Moment (1996) kora solo

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)

Young Apollo (1939) for piano, string quartet and string orchestra

Errollyn Wallen (1958)

Concerto Grosso (2008) for piano, violin, double bass and strings

Allegro – Larghetto – Allegro – Grave - Faster, with a groove

Soloists: Maki Namekawa, piano - Tomo Keller, violin – Ying Lai Green, double bass

Philip Glass (1937)

Ifé (2014) ) – Three Yorùbá Songs

(arr. for vocals, piano and strings by Michael Riesman)

'Olodumare' – 'Yemandja' – 'Oshumare'

interval

Tunde Jegede (1972)

Exile & Return (2007) for kora and string orchestra

Erik Satie (1866-1925)

Gymnopédie no. 3 (1888) for piano

Erik Satie (1866-1925)

Je te veux (1902) for vocals and strings (arr. Wijnand van Klaveren)

Édith Piaf (1915-1963)

La Foule (1957) for vocals, piano and strings (arr. Wijnand van Klaveren)

Georges Brassens (1921-1981)

Il n’y a pas d’amour heureux (1953) for vocals and kora (arr. Tunde Jegede)

Édith Piaf (1915-1963)

Padam Padam (1951) for vocals, piano and strings (arr. Leonard Evers)

Angélique Kidjo (1960)

Malaïka (1993) for vocals and strings (arr. Hugo Bouma)

Angélique Kidjo (1960)

Kelele (2010) for vocals, piano and strings (arr. Michael P. Atkinson)

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dates

Fri June 24 8:30 PM

Prices

  • default from € 25
  • CJP/student € 12

language & duration

  • Language no problem

  • 1 hour 45 minutes (met 1 pauze)

Programme notes

The African star Angélique Kidjo builds bridges through her music. Bridges between people. Between different genres of music. Between parts of the world. The programme Ifé is all about making connections. African music, jazz, chansons and classical music will stand shoulder to shoulder this evening. The three songs that minimal music pioneer Philip Glass wrote for her tie in with various musical directions: with composers with roots in Africa and the Caribbean, with French chansons and with the French composer, musical chameleon and minimal music precursor Erik Satie. Performing besides Kidjo herself will be the string players from Amsterdam Sinfonietta, pianist Maki Namekawa and Tunde Jegede, who plays the kora, a bright, tinkly sounding instrument with over twenty strings that may be described as a harp with a hemispherical calabash as a sound box.

Tunde Jegede, Still Moment

The concert will open with Still Moment, which Tunde Jegede wrote in 1996 and which he will be performing himself on the kora. He was born in London and, at the age of ten, travelled to Gambia to learn to play the kora. In Still Moment, he aims for moments of calm and silence in music of tremendous beauty and depth. He feels this music has the potential and power to change emotions for the better, and to heal. Still Moment is meant to enchant the audience and create a deep, calm atmosphere that lets people forget everyday reality for an instant and open their minds for what is to come. The piece is more akin to still, meditative Japanese music than the traditional West African repertoire. Jegede may use the clattering cascades of sounds common to it, but his music sounds more subdued and contemplative.

Benjamin Britten, Young Apollo

Young Apollo for piano and string orchestra, performed by Maki Namekawa and Amsterdam Sinfonietta, was added to the programme as a tribute to composer Benjamin Britten whose music was already featured at the very first edition of the Holland Festival in 1948. Throughout the years he has been a regular guest at the Holland Festival, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Britten wrote Young Apollo in 1939, when he was living in the United States together with his partner Peter Pears for three years. As a starting point, he used the final lines of the poem Hyperion from John Keats, who describes the golden tresses and celestial limbs of ‘young Apollo’. The composition, in which the virtuoso piano melody seems to represent the god’s images, was inspired by Britten’s first love, Wolfgang Scherchen.

Errollyn Wallen, Concerto Grosso

In her Concerto Grosso from 2008, Errollyn Wallen jumps back and forth between baroque, jazz and the sound Benjamin Britten played with in famous compositions like Simple Symphony and Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, but in Young Apollo as well. The form of the ‘concerto grosso’, with multiple soloists opposite an orchestra, originates from baroque music. The soloists regularly take over the musical material from each other, as if passing each other a ball. With bass and piano as solo instruments, Wallen gives the music a jazzy atmosphere. Adding to this, she uses dancing rhythms, as in the final part of the piece and during moments when she has the three soloists play as a trio without orchestral accompaniment. But she also gives the violin markedly lyrical melodies. Wallen was born in Central American Belize. She was the first black woman to have work performed in the Proms series and she wrote the opening ceremony music for the London Paralympics of 2012. Today, she lives and works in a lighthouse in Scotland.

Philip Glass, Ifé – Three Yorùbá Songs

'Olodumare' – 'Yemandja' – 'Oshumare'

Ifé, a collaboration between Philip Glass and Angélique Kidjo, is the central piece of the programme. Glass had known Kidjo for more than twelve years when she asked him to write songs for her. Glass: ‘I worked with her in concerts in which she both performed her own music as well as short pieces in which we played together. Throughout the years, I’ve come to greatly admire her authentic, powerful musical personality as a maker and a performer. That’s why I was very interested when she suggested I write a series of songs for her to go with her lyrics in Yoruba, the language of her birth country Benin.’

This was no composition as Glass was used to: ‘For me, the challenge was firstly to find the best rhythmic and melodic form for poems in a language that had been completely foreign to me until that point. I asked Angélique to make recordings of the poems - three creation poems from one of the most important kingdoms of the Yoruba, Ifé, which according to the inhabitants is where the world was created.’

This required Glass to painstakingly analyse the rhythms and melodic lines characteristic of the Yoruba language. He discovered that the lyrics themselves, as Angélique had recorded them, were particularly lyrical, and he felt they were ‘unbelievably beautiful’. Subsequently, composing the music for the orchestra was quite quick and easy. ‘Once the notes were put on paper, Angélique and I refined her part in order to bring out the sound of the Yoruba language as best we could.’

With these songs, Glass and Kidjo bridged a gap between Africa and the West, between Kidjo’s African pop and composed music, performed by a classical orchestra. In the programme Ifé, named after the three songs, Kidjo’s role as a bridge builder gets extra emphasis and sheen. Holland Festival commisioned the arrangement for vocals, piano and strings by Michael Riesman, which will be world premiered in the festival.

Programme notes

The African star Angélique Kidjo builds bridges through her music. Bridges between people. Between different genres of music. Between parts of the world. The programme Ifé is all about making connections. African music, jazz, chansons and classical music will stand shoulder to shoulder this evening. The three songs that minimal music pioneer Philip Glass wrote for her tie in with various musical directions: with composers with roots in Africa and the Caribbean, with French chansons and with the French composer, musical chameleon and minimal music precursor Erik Satie. Performing besides Kidjo herself will be the string players from Amsterdam Sinfonietta, pianist Maki Namekawa and Tunde Jegede, who plays the kora, a bright, tinkly sounding instrument with over twenty strings that may be described as a harp with a hemispherical calabash as a sound box.

Tunde Jegede, Still Moment

The concert will open with Still Moment, which Tunde Jegede wrote in 1996 and which he will be performing himself on the kora. He was born in London and, at the age of ten, travelled to Gambia to learn to play the kora. In Still Moment, he aims for moments of calm and silence in music of tremendous beauty and depth. He feels this music has the potential and power to change emotions for the better, and to heal. Still Moment is meant to enchant the audience and create a deep, calm atmosphere that lets people forget everyday reality for an instant and open their minds for what is to come. The piece is more akin to still, meditative Japanese music than the traditional West African repertoire. Jegede may use the clattering cascades of sounds common to it, but his music sounds more subdued and contemplative.

Benjamin Britten, Young Apollo

Young Apollo for piano and string orchestra, performed by Maki Namekawa and Amsterdam Sinfonietta, was added to the programme as a tribute to composer Benjamin Britten whose music was already featured at the very first edition of the Holland Festival in 1948. Throughout the years he has been a regular guest at the Holland Festival, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Britten wrote Young Apollo in 1939, when he was living in the United States together with his partner Peter Pears for three years. As a starting point, he used the final lines of the poem Hyperion from John Keats, who describes the golden tresses and celestial limbs of ‘young Apollo’. The composition, in which the virtuoso piano melody seems to represent the god’s images, was inspired by Britten’s first love, Wolfgang Scherchen.

Errollyn Wallen, Concerto Grosso

In her Concerto Grosso from 2008, Errollyn Wallen jumps back and forth between baroque, jazz and the sound Benjamin Britten played with in famous compositions like Simple Symphony and Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, but in Young Apollo as well. The form of the ‘concerto grosso’, with multiple soloists opposite an orchestra, originates from baroque music. The soloists regularly take over the musical material from each other, as if passing each other a ball. With bass and piano as solo instruments, Wallen gives the music a jazzy atmosphere. Adding to this, she uses dancing rhythms, as in the final part of the piece and during moments when she has the three soloists play as a trio without orchestral accompaniment. But she also gives the violin markedly lyrical melodies. Wallen was born in Central American Belize. She was the first black woman to have work performed in the Proms series and she wrote the opening ceremony music for the London Paralympics of 2012. Today, she lives and works in a lighthouse in Scotland.

Philip Glass, Ifé – Three Yorùbá Songs

'Olodumare' – 'Yemandja' – 'Oshumare'

Ifé, a collaboration between Philip Glass and Angélique Kidjo, is the central piece of the programme. Glass had known Kidjo for more than twelve years when she asked him to write songs for her. Glass: ‘I worked with her in concerts in which she both performed her own music as well as short pieces in which we played together. Throughout the years, I’ve come to greatly admire her authentic, powerful musical personality as a maker and a performer. That’s why I was very interested when she suggested I write a series of songs for her to go with her lyrics in Yoruba, the language of her birth country Benin.’

This was no composition as Glass was used to: ‘For me, the challenge was firstly to find the best rhythmic and melodic form for poems in a language that had been completely foreign to me until that point. I asked Angélique to make recordings of the poems - three creation poems from one of the most important kingdoms of the Yoruba, Ifé, which according to the inhabitants is where the world was created.’

This required Glass to painstakingly analyse the rhythms and melodic lines characteristic of the Yoruba language. He discovered that the lyrics themselves, as Angélique had recorded them, were particularly lyrical, and he felt they were ‘unbelievably beautiful’. Subsequently, composing the music for the orchestra was quite quick and easy. ‘Once the notes were put on paper, Angélique and I refined her part in order to bring out the sound of the Yoruba language as best we could.’

With these songs, Glass and Kidjo bridged a gap between Africa and the West, between Kidjo’s African pop and composed music, performed by a classical orchestra. In the programme Ifé, named after the three songs, Kidjo’s role as a bridge builder gets extra emphasis and sheen. Holland Festival commisioned the arrangement for vocals, piano and strings by Michael Riesman, which will be world premiered in the festival.

Tunde Jegede, Exile & Return

After the break, the floor is once more for Tunde Jegede with his composition Exile & Return, which he will perform with Amsterdam Sinfonietta. Jegede wrote this in 2007 for the Brodsky Quartet. It is an intimate and personal piece that expresses a longing for home. In it, he develops themes like exile, displacement and the search for a place where someone can feel at home. Jegede writes: ‘It’s a lyrical work that transcends the everyday, and which brings together the worlds of the kora and the string quartet in an entirely unique, coherent form. The music ties in with sound worlds that are both postmodern and minimalist, and which touch on the core of both.’ Tunde Jegede and the Brodsky Quartet premiered the work at the Cheltenham Music Festival in 2007. They have frequently performed it together since, and recorded it for BBC Radio 3. Tonight is the world premiere for his version with Amsterdam Sinfonietta, commissioned by Holland Festival

Erik Satie, Gymnopedie no. 3, Je te veux

The French composer Erik Satie had a special sense of humour. He wrote a series of three pieces for piano that he called Trois Gymnopédies. The title refers to the dances that ancient Greeks performed in the nude. The pieces have a calm quality. They appear to anticipate the minimal music that would take hold less than a century later. But he also wrote three pieces in the shape of a pear, as well as music for furniture. This was more intended as musical wallpaper than to listen to. In this respect, Satie was a precursor to Brian Eno’s ambient music. The string players of Amsterdam Sinfonietta join in with Maki Namekawa’s performance. The music then segues into Je te veux, a love song with an erotic meaning, sung by Angélique Kidjo accompanied by the string players.

Édith Piaf, La Foule

Georges Brassens, Il n’y a pas d’amour heureux

Édith Piaf, Padam Padam

The rest of the concert will be dedicated to Angélique Kidjo again. First, she will sing three French chansons, a genre she feels drawn to. All the songs have lost love as their subject. La Foule is about a woman who ends up in the arms of a man in the crowd of a festival. Love sparks as they let themselves be swept away by the crowd, which drives them apart again, and she realises she will never see him again.

Brassens based Il n’y a pas d’amour heureux on a text from the surrealist poet Louis Aragon from 1944. At the time, the poet was in a relationship with Elsa Triolet, who was in the resistance against the Germans just like him. She wanted to leave him because it was unsafe to live together should one of them be arrested.

In Padam Padam, Edith Piaf connected the rhythm of her heartbeat with a melody she was unable to get rid of. This melody reminded her of a lost love. Kidjo will sing Edith Piaf’s songs accompanied by Amsterdam Sinfonietta and Maki Namekawa. In Brassens’ song, she is accompanied by Tunde Jegende’s kora.

Angélique Kidjo, Malaïka, Kelele

Angélique Kidjo will close the evening with two songs from her own repertoire. The songs are about subjects close to her heart and were originally written as pop songs. She has performed them in a wide range of settings: with an orchestra, but also accompanied by a percussionist and guitarist. Malaïka is a song in which a man apologises to his loved one. He is unable to marry her because major setbacks have left him without any money. He is defeated by fate, he laments. In Kelele, she sings about the importance of education. It is just as important as health, she sings. The song expresses the expectation and hope that education may result in better leadership. It is a tribute to her parents, who always stimulated her development.

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  • Ifé - Tunde Jegede

    © Yoshitaka Kono (Tunde Yegede)

  • Maki Namekawa

    © Andreas H. Bitesnich (Maki Namekawa)

  • Ifé - Amsterdam Sinfonietta © Marco Borggreve

    © Marco Borggreve (Amsterdam Sinfonietta)

credits

music Benjamin Britten, Philip Glass, Errollyn Wallen, Tunde Jegede, . vocals Angélique Kidjo piano Maki Namekawa kora Tunde Jegede orchestra Amsterdam Sinfonietta 1st violin Tomo Keller, Nicoline van Santen, Ingrid van Dingstee, Lena ter Schegget, Ruña 't Hart 2nd violin Jacobien Rozemond, Petra Griffioen, Charlotte Basalo Vazquez, Olivia Scheepers, Julia Kleinsmann viola Georgy Kovalev, Anne-Bartje Fontein, Javier Rodas Sanchez, Kaija Lukas cello Tim Posner, Örs Köszeghy, Kalle de Bie, Honorine Schaeffer double bass Ying Lai Green, Servaas Jessen

This performance is made possible by

Meet Angélique Kidjo

Meet Angélique Kidjo

The French-Beninese singer Angélique Kidjo is associate artist of this year’s Holland Festival, together with theatre director Nicolas Stemann. Shows to be featured at the festival in June are Mother Nature, Yemandja and Ifé.

Watch our conversation with Angélique here and click here to read a conversation about her work and motivations.