By Mimi Deke
The general ambience was soothing. The stage was set, brilliantly lit and decorated. The colours, yellow and blue. On the stage were various kinds of music instruments: the Violins, Violoncellos, Cellos, the Grande Piano, Organ, Drums, Trumpets, Clarinets and Flutes. The venue was the Agip Recital Hall, MUSON Centre, but it might have been the Royal Opera House in London. Okay, maybe thatâ€™s an exaggeration, but this has to be a special day at MUSON for the sheer opulence that this multipurpose hall is basking in this grand evening.
The occasion was the graduation concert put together by the second set of beneficiaries of the Music scholarship programme of the MTN Foundation. Graduating were 24 young men and women who had undergone training in Voice, Classical Music, Music composition and Arrangement, as well as Repairs of Music Instruments.
Scores of music lovers from across Nigeria, top officials of MTN and MTN Foundation, members of the media, among other distinguished guests, had been invited to witness the performance of the graduands. Expectations were high for the evening, especially considering the high tone set by the general opulent ambience.
It turned out to be an evening to remember for the guests, one in which many budding stars sparkled brilliantly, offering assertive glimpse into a glorious future. It was an evening one was tempted to believe that the worldâ€™s greatest Tenor singer Luciano Pavarotti, reincarnated to continue to thrill classical music lovers right there in the hall.
Pavarotti â€˜s â€˜reincarnationâ€™ was in the form of a buxom graduand by name, Ezekiel Adedoyin, a Voice Major, who incidentally bears some resemblance to the great Pavarotti. The moment Ezekiel walked onto the stage, his mates and others who knew the unusual power of his voice cheered him excitedly. He did not disappoint them. With expert support from Christian Ubani on the Piano, Ezekiel did a perfect rendition of Recondita Armonia, a number by Glacomo Pucci and O Colombina from Tosca, by Leoncavallo Ruggiero, to the wild excitement of the audience.
The applause had not yet died down when Nonso Obiezue, a Pianist, walked in and took a bow. Nonso, dressed in a pair of black trousers with a black shirt and a black blazer, really looking the part, elicited another excited round of applause from the expectant crowd.Â For most lovers of classical music, the renowned German composer, Ludwig van Beethoven was something of a god. Nonso performed the great German composerâ€™s Sonata Quasi una Fantasia, Allegretto and Presto Agitato with effortless ease.
A piece entitled Amigos Para Siempre composed by Andrew Lloyd-Weber was performed by the beautiful duo of Nkiruka Andrew a Soprano Voice and Fatima Anyekema, a Mezzo Soprano Voice with Nonso Obiezue on the piano.
Another Piece was an instrumental entitled Sonatina op.137 no.3 composed by Franz Schubert. It comprised a Violin played by Paul Eniolorunda and a Piano played by Christian Ubani. Ubani was to further wow the audience with his own composition on the Organ titled Good Bye. The movement of his fingers on the organ keys and his feet on the pedal board was with such ease that one associates with masters.
The String Quartet of Emmanuel Fagbohun (Violin 1), Babatunde Awonuga (Violin 2), Titus Ogunyemi (Viola) and Seun Oluwaloju (Cello), delivered a timeless piece from W. A Mozart, entitled Divertimento K138 to the delight of the audience.Â These young men can play in a standard orchestra in any part of the world.
The 1988 Broadwayâ€™s longest running show by Andrew Lloyd Weber was also brought to life by the scholars. The Phantom of the Opera is a story about a beautiful Soprano songstress, who became the obsession of a mysterious phantom figure, who was also a musical genius. The duo of Agatha Ibeazor (Soprano) and John Paul Ochei (Baritone) rendered All I ask of You perfectly, getting a standing ovation.
Other renditions by the Diploma School Male Voices were De Battle of Jericho composed by Hugh Roberton, Obi Dimkpa, by Prof. Laz Ekwueme and O Sole Mio, by Di Capua. The scholars did not neglect to show appreciation to their sponsor, MTN. They rendered a composition by Maclean Grant, president of the MUSON Diploma Studentâ€™s Association entitled, MTN Na You Bi Baba. The choir was conducted by the renowned Voice instructor and Conductor, Emeka Nwokedi, while Tosin Ajayi manned the Piano.
For the audience it was a rewarding evening, one that attested to the fact that the Onikan Music School has maintained very high standards since inception. Indeed, the Musical Society of Nigeria, MUSON has been in existence since 1983. Its aim when it was established was to promote the performance and enjoyment of serious music in Nigeria with emphasis on classical music. It promotes the education and appreciation of music among children in Nigeria and trains talented individuals in the art of music and performance.
In 1989, the MUSON School of Music was formed under the directorship of Mr. James Adekunle. The school then offered part-time basic courses and training in the theory and practice of music. It gave practical lessons in Voice, Piano, Organ, Double Bass, Recorder and Trumpet and also conducted practical examinations twice a year.
Given the success it recorded and the high standard it maintained, it introduced a full-time Diploma course in 2006 for students who desired to attain international standards on a major instrument or on Voice and be thoroughly exposed to the rudiments of music and instruments. In addition, students were taught history courses to make them well rounded musicians.
The MTN Foundation, as part of its Corporate Social Investment initiative in 2006 introduced the MTNF/MUSON Scholars programme which aims to train 220 indigent students in a five year programme. In 2008, the school graduated its first batch of twenty-one Music Scholars, sponsored by the MTN Foundation.
This yearâ€™s set of beneficiaries are particularly talented. The Chairman MUSON Board of Trustees and Governor described the granduands as a group of highly dedicated talented young men and women who had made the school proud and are ready to take the world by storm.
â€œThe practical arm of the final Associated Board of Royal School of Music (ABRSM) exams was done in Ghana and I am proud to say that our students all made Grade -8 distinctions, which is the highest mark in the exams. I also thank the MTN Foundation immensely for giving the students the opportunity to prove their worth by providing sponsorship for themâ€, said Chief Williams.
The first set of graduates are already making their marks in their fields of specialization. While some are presently teaching Music in secondary schools in Lagos and Abuja, others have gained admission into other higher institutions like the University of Dayton, America and the University of Cape Town, South Africa to obtain degrees in Music.
One of the beneficiaries of the MTN Foundation scholarship, Adinnu Stanley who won the MTNF overall Best Student Award thanked MTN for offering him a platform to further his education and make an impact in life.Â Stanley plans to register for a Sandwich programme in Music at the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Ijanikin and to obtain a B. Sc and Master degrees in Music Education.