Ifé

Ifé

Angélique Kidjo, Maki Namekawa, Tunde Jegede, Amsterdam Sinfonietta

On this page:
Programme
Programme notes
(part 1)
Lyrics
Programme notes
(part 2)

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)

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 who’s 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 commissioned the arrangement for vocals, piano and strings by Michael Riesman, which will be world premiered on the festival.

LYRICS: 'Olodumare' – 'Yemandja' – 'Oshumare'

English:

Olodumare


Oh You, Olodumare, you gave Obatala the task to create the World
Oh You, Olodumare, you asked Oduduwa to go with him.
There they are, together, lugging a bag on their shoulders.
And from this bag a wondrous child is to be born, this bag must birth the
World.

Obatala, the course is long and you are thirsty.
Oduduwa, the bag is heavy and it is hot.
How to resist the lure of wine, that holy wine
Obatala, Oduduwa, Obatala, Oduduwa,
He whose sleep brings us dreams of which we cannot speak;
I named the wine of the tree under which we lay our weary limbs,
The Palm Wine that creates the nightmares of which we never speak.

Oh You, Olodumare, you gave Obatala the task to create the World
Oh You, Olodumare, you asked Oduduwa to go with him.
They are together no more, Obatala, you drank too much and fell asleep.
It’s on the shoulders of Oduduwa alone that the World now rests so
heavily.

Oduduwa, you have arrived, the road ends down here.
Obatala sleeps and you, all that you distinguish is the sea.
Water as far as the eye can see, not even the smallest island on which to
stand.
Obatala, Oduduwa, Obatala, Oduduwa,
The time has come to open the bag. And what will you do with it?
“All I find here is a little black dust, just a bit of black dust!”
Olodumare says: “Put it on the water and on the water the earth will
appear.”

Oh You, Olodumare, you gave Obatala the task to create the World
Oh You, Olodumare, you asked Oduduwa to go with him.
And now the World appears from the hands of Oduduwa,
“It is so very small, what must I do to make it flourish?”

Did you forget that it has five fingers?
It is the Rooster Olodumare gave you.
All you have to do is set it on the little mound and with its five fingers
Obatala, Oduduwa, Obatala, Oduduwa,
He will scratch away and scatter all that dust.
That’s how he will expand the boundaries of the World.
And create the five continents.

Oh You, Olodumare, you gave Obatala the task to create the World
Oh You, Olodumare, you asked Oduduwa to go with him.
You toss a palm nut down and a tree springs from the soil
Now it is time for the Orishas to descend from heaven and go to Ile Ife.


Yemandja

I am the mother of the River,
Yemandja is my name,
My children are all fishes
I am the mother of the River,
Yemandja is my name,
In the waters’ depths I am Queen.

I no longer tolerate the World, I have to flee
I flow further to the West, always, to where the sun goes down
Oduduwa, my king, pursues me and I’m assailed from every side.
I break the precious vase that Olokun had given me
Then suddenly a river appears and carries me off to the ocean…

I am the mother of the River,
Yemandja is my name,
My children are all fishes
I am the mother of the River,
Yemandja is my name,
In the waters’ depths I am Queen.

I am covered in pearls and have a majestic breast
I warned you, Olofin, woe unto him who doesn’t care.
Drunk, you break your promise and make a fool of me.
In my anger I stamp my foot on the ground to join Olokun again
Then suddenly a river appears and carries me off to the ocean…

Yemowo, wife of Oshala, Yamase, mother of Shango
Yewa, the river where I run, Oloosaa, the lagoon in which I go to sleep
Ogunte, wife of Ogun
Saba, I spin my cotton endlessly
Sesu, I am proud, you will respect me

I am the mother of the River,
Yemandja is my name,
My children are all fishes
I am the mother of the River,
Yemandja is my name,
In the waters’ depths I am Queen.


Oshumare

I praise you, Rainbow Serpent; I praise you, I praise you.
The water makes love to the fire;
The sun kisses the rain;
You come to life.
Made of every color, your body
Envelops the earth and keeps it from falling.
I praise you, Rainbow Serpent;

I praise you, Rainbow Serpent; I praise you, I praise you.
Your first band is red
Like the anger of Man
But you are female, too
For your last band is blue,
The color of Woman.
I praise you, Rainbow Serpent

I praise you, Rainbow Serpent; I praise you, I praise you.
Since you cured him,
Olodumare wants to keep you in Heaven
At times lets you descend:
Then, with the two extremities of your arc
You touch the ground and offer boundless wealth.
I praise you, Rainbow Serpent

I praise you, Rainbow Serpent; I praise you, I praise you.
Curled around yourself
You draw a circle
And bite your own tail, might you be haughty?
No, for you extend your hand
To all who need it.
I praise you, Rainbow Serpent


IN YORUBA

Olodumare

Eyin Olodumare, Eran Obatala K’wa Da Ile Aye
Ah, Ah
Eyin Olodumare, Eran Oduduwa Ko Télé Lo
Ah, Ah
Awon Medjedji Muralo Kpelu Akpo Leri Edjika
Ninu Akpo Yin Ibile Omon To Dara : Ile Aye
Ah, Ah

Obatala Onanyi Gungan, Orungbe N’dayin Lamu
Oduduwa, Akpo Yin Wuwo, Igba Teri Kpe Orumu
Kila Letche Ti Awa Onimu Eti Oluwa

Obatala, Oduduwa, Obatala, Oduduwa,
Obatala, Oduduwa, Obatala, Oduduwa,

Emun To Foun Wa Ni Ala Ti Awa Ole Ranti
Tobaya Kalosun Si Abe Igi Ope Wa, Ah, Ah
Emun To Foun Wa Ni, Ala Ibaradje Yio

Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah
Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah
Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah

Eyin Olodumare Eran Obatala Ko Wa Da Ile Aye
Ah, Ah

Eyin Olodumare, Eran Oduduwa Ko Wa Télé Lo
Awon Medjedji Won Wa Kpo Mon, Obatala
Omoun Tiyo, Osun

Leri Edjika Oduduwa, Nin Akiyesi Fun Ile Aye Wa

Oduduwa Ewale, Onan Yin, Duro Sibi
Aaah, Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah
Obatala O N’sun, Ni Wadju Oduduwa
Okun Ni O N’ri
Ibikibi Ti O N’wo Okun Ni Kan Lori,
Ibi Kan Kossi To Le Fesse Duro

Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah
Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah
Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah
Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah

Obatala, Oduduwa, Obatala, Oduduwa,
Obatala, Oduduwa, Obatala, Oduduwa,

Assiko Wa.
Ke Tchi Akpo.
Kilo Wa Ninu E. Kile Fe Tche
Eruku Dudu Ni Kan Ni Mori Ninou Akpo

Olodumare Damin Lohun : Gbe Eruku Dudu
Sinun Okun Foun Ibile Ile Aye

Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah
Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah
Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah
Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah

Eyin Olodumare, Eran Obatala K’wa Da Ile Aye
Ah, Ah
Eyin Olodumare, Eran Oduduwa Ko Wa Télé Lo

Lati Owo Oduduwa Ni Ibile Ile Aye
Erun Kpeyi Kere Gan,
Bawo Nimon Letche Ko Dagba

Owo Marun Lonin
Egba Gbe Nin ?
Akuko Ti Olodumare Foun Yin Nin
Efi Akuko Nan Seri Eruku Tie Egbe Sile,

Obatala, Oduduwa, Obatala, Oduduwa,
Obatala, Oduduwa, Obatala, Oduduwa,

Kpelu Owo Marun Aruku
O Te Eruku
Akuko O Tan Kalé Gbogbo Ile Aye

Be-nin Awari, Ibile Orí Marun

Eyin Olodumare, Eran Obatala Ko Wa Da Ile Aye
Eyin Olodumare, Eran Oduduwa Ko Wa Télé Lo
Eju Eyin Si Ile
Ni Igui Yi Dagba
Fun Gbogbo Awon Orisha Ko Djade Wa Ile Aye

Aaaah, Aaaah, Aaaah, Aaaah
Aaaah, Aaaah, Aaaah, Aaaah

Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah
Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah
Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah
Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah

Aaaaaaaah,
Aaaah, Aaaah, Aaaah


Yemandja

Iya Odo, Iya Odo,
Oruko Mini Yemanja,
Edja Ni Awon Omon Mi

Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah
Ah, Ah, Ah

Iya Odo, Iya Odo,
Emin Ni Olori Ninou Ijinle Okun Un

Aye Yi Osunmin, Monila Tisalo
Mon Sare Lo Iwo Orun, Ibiti Ale N’wo
Oduduwa, Oba Mi,
O N’lemi Ibikibi Ti Mon N’lo

Mon Fo Igo Iyebiye, Ogun Ti Olokun Foun Mi
L’ojiji Ni Odo Yo, Togbe Milo Sinou Okun

Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah
Iya Odo, Iya Odo,
Oruko Mini Yemanja,
Edja Ni Awon Omon Mi
Iya Odo, Iya Odo,
Oruko Mini Yemanja,
Emin Ni Olori Ninou Ijinle Okun

Ah, Ah, Ah
Mon Bora Bora Kpelou Ileke,
Omumi Lawo
Olofin Mon Dagbere E,
Kpe Enikan Koman Rerin O
Omuti Yo O Yehun Towa N’rerin Mio

Ninou Ibinou Mi, Mon Fesse Nan Ile
Ni Mon Lori Olokun
L’ojiji Ni Odo Yo, Togbe Milo Sinou Okun

Yemowo, Iyawo, Oshala
Yamase, Iya Shango
Yewa, Okun Ile Mi
Oloosaa, Ibiti Mon Ma Sun
Ogunte, Iyawo Ogun
Saba, O Ibiti Mon Ran Ewu
Sesu, Mon Ni Igberaga Efun Mi Ni Ola

Iya Odo, Iya Odo,
Oruko Mini Yemanja,
Edja Ni Awon Omon Mi
Iya Odo, Iya Odo,
Oruko Mini Yemanja,
Emin Ni Olori Ninou Ijinle Okun Un


Oshumare

Axe, Oshumare
Axe, Oshumare
Axe Axe, Axe Axe

Axe, Oshumare
Axe, Oshumare
Axe Axe, Axe Axe

Omin N’soun Kpelou Inan
Orun Kissi Fun Odjo
Owa Aye, Owa Aye
Ara E Ni Awo Gbogbo Eniyan
Ara Yin Lo Moun Ile Aye
Coman Ti Djabo
Axe, Oshumare
Axe, Axe

Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah
Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah

Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah
Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah

Axe, Oshumare
Axe, Oshumare
Axe Axe, Axe Axe

Axe, Oshumare
Axe, Oshumare
Axe Axe, Axe Axe

Ekiini Imole Dje Pupa
Bi Ibinou Okunrin
Be Nan Nin Edje Olomoge
N’tori Imole Keyin O
N’dje Oju Orun
Oju Orun, Ni Awo Obinrin

Axe, Oshumare
Axe Axe

Axe, Oshumare
Axe, Oshumare
Axe Axe, Axe Axe

Axe, Oshumare
Axe, Oshumare
Axe Axe, Axe Axe

N’tori E San Alafia
Olodumare
Won Fe Ke Gbe Orun
Igbami Eman Wa Ile Aye
Lenou Igun Medjedji Yika Yin
Efowo Si Ile Te Foun Wa Ni Ola

Axe, Oshumare
Axe, Oshumare
Axe Axe, Axe Axe

Axe, Oshumare
Axe, Oshumare
Axe Axe, Axe Axe

Axe, Oshumare
Axe, Oshumare
Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah
Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah

Axe, Oshumare
Axe, Oshumare
Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah
Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah

E Wefidiro
Eya Yika Sile
Ebu Ikparin Yin Dje,
E Yangan Di E O?
E Yangan Kan, Eman Foun
Gbogbo Enin Yan Ni Anawossi

Axe, Oshumare
Axe, Oduduwa

Axe, Olodumare
Axe, O Yemandja

Axe, Oshumare
Axe, Obatala

Axe, Olodumare
Axe, O Yemandja

Axe Axe,
Axe Axe,
Axe Axe,

Axe, Oshumare
Axe, Oshumare


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 of 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.