ICAP member Obo Addy, a Ghanaian drummer and dancer, took part in a Dialogue in Music Project event held at UCLA, October 22–25. Titled the “Africa Meets North America Third International Symposium and Festival,” the event was presented by the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Deptartment of Ethnomusicology.
The Project was established in 1990 as a biennial international symposium and festival at the Center for Intercultural Musicology at Churchill College, Cambridge, U.K., under the direction of Akin Euba, a Nigerian composer, musicologist and pianist. Project symposia and festivals have been held in various nations including China and India.
Each Project event is an expression of Euba’s ideal of intercultural musicology, which encourages creativity across cultural lines and within all musical expressions. The October event focused on scholarly sessions demonstrating intercultural relations between Africa and North America, and featured special discussion sessions directed by composers and performers.
Mr. Addy is one of the first native African musicians to bring the fusion of traditional folk and Western pop music known as “world beat” to Europe and then to the Pacific Northwest of the United States in the late 1970s. He currently teaches music at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon.
On October 24, at UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall, Mr. Addy performed indigenous selections and his own compositions using musical instruments from Ghana along with his vocals. He received a standing ovation and gave an encore that involved spirited call-and-response audience participation.
Mr. Addy has founded two musical ensembles. Okropong, meaning “eagle” in his native Ga language (Ga is a coastal state in southeastern Ghana), performs traditional Ghanaian music, occasionally blending in a bit of jazz improvisation. His other group, Kukrudu (Ga for “earthquake”) is more focused on linking jazz to African traditions.
Mr. Addy, who currently teaches music at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, has stated that it is his mission to help bridge cultures through music and dialogue.