HOME

Okavango African Orchestra Friday, October 18, 2019 | 8 PM | Ticket Prices: Prime $55, Regular $45, YouthTix $15

“It’s obvious that Okavango respects the continent’s myriad musical traditions. It’s in the glorious mix of rhythms in their songs” – Toronto Sun

Multiple instruments, ten languages, and seven countries define Okavango African Orchestra, winners of the 2017 JUNO Award for World Music Album of the Year. The Toronto orchestra takes its name from the Okavango Delta, a basin in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, where different animals, predators and prey, coexist and share meager resources. Similarly, Okavango African Orchestra brings together the traditional music and instruments of several major African cultures that historically have had little or no interaction. The musicians of Okavango create a common meeting place for these disparate cultures, and a new musical language that harmonizes different tuning systems, rhythms, and timbres. The multicultural spirit of modern-day Canada bridges ancient African solitudes.

 

https://www.markham.ca/wps/portal/home/arts/flato-markham-theatre/diamond-season/world-stage/okavango-african-orchestra

Okavango African Orchestra will perform at the Alliance Francaise Theatre on Friday June 14, 2019 at 9 PM. Multiple instruments, ten languages, and seven countries define Okavango African Orchestra, winners of the 2017 JUNO Award for World Music Album of the Year.

This special performance will feature songs from their 2017 JUNO winning album along with new compositions to be released this year. Okavango African Orchestra looks ahead on its continuing journey to an “Africa without borders… before the borders were created”. 

The Orchestra takes its name from the Okavango Delta, a basin in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, where different animals, predators and prey, coexist and share meager resources. Similarly, Okavango African Orchestra brings together the traditional music and instruments of several major African cultures that historically have had little or no interaction. The musicians of Okavango create a common meeting place for these disparate cultures, and a new musical language that harmonizes different tuning systems, rhythms, and timbres. Friday June 14, 2019
Okavango African Orchestra Alliance Francaise Theatre, 24 Spadina Rd. Toronto

Doors: 8 PM / Concert 9 PM
Tickets: $20 advance / $25 door
www.okav2019.eventbrite.ca

www.okavangoorchestra.com

Okavango African Orchestra gratefully acknowledges the support of Canada Council for the Arts | Conseil des Arts du Canada and Batuki Music Society.

2017 JUNO Gala Dinner & Awards. Adam Cohen accepting on behalf of Leonard Cohen for Artist of the Year. Shaw Centre, Ottawa, On. April 1, 2017. (Photo: CARASiPhoto).

12 instruments, 10 languages, 7 countries…

Winners of the 2017 Juno Award for best world music album

“It’s obvious that Okavango respects the continent’s myriad musical traditions. It’s in the glorious mix of rhythms in their songs,” ERROL NAZARETH, Toronto Sun

The orchestra takes its name from the Okavango Delta, a basin in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, where many different animal species come together to feed and find water. Predators and prey are forced to coexist and share the meager resources because of the harsh environment around them.

Similarly, Okavango African Orchestra brings together the traditional music and instruments of several major African cultures that historically have had little or no interaction. The musicians of Okavango have created a common meeting place for these disparate cultures, and a new musical language that harmonizes their different tuning systems, rhythms, and timbres. The multicultural spirit of modern-day Canada bridges ancient African solitudes.

They are on a mission to break real and perceived barriers between different African countries and traditions, creating a musical delta where everyone’s welcome to dip in and dig the grooves.

The group comprises nine accomplished African-born musicians: Daniel Nebiat (krar, vocals-Eritrea), Tichaona Maredza (marimba, nyunga-nyunga, vocals-Zimbabwe), Donne Roberts (guitar, vocals-Madagascar), Kooshin (kaban, vocals-Somalia), Ebenezer Agyekum (bass-Ghana), Sadio Sissokho (kora, djembe, vocals-Senegal), Nicolas Simbananiye (vocals-Burundi), Aron Nitunga (guitar, vocals-Burundi) and Kofi Ackah (percussion-Ghana).

Okavango African Orchestra Celebrates Juno WinOkavango African Orchestra Celebrates Juno Win

Many of the genre-based Juno Award categories toil away in relative obscurity, far away from the bright spotlight occupied by the major stars showcased on the annual televised show. For nominees in these categories, however, a Juno win remains a major accomplishment, and a career-changing one.

That is certainly the case for Toronto-based nine-piece ensemble Okavango African Orchestra, who took home the Juno Award for World Music Album of the Year in Ottawa on Saturday night, for their self-titled debut release.

The group’s manager,  Nadine McNulty confirmed to FYI that the win will have a real impact. “Offers to perform are already starting to come in,” she explains. “We are hopeful that we can get enough dates and offers to organize a tour across Canada and abroad.

“We are hopeful that there will be increased media attention for both the group and also for other artists who perform global music, especially those of African heritage. “

Percussionist/vocalist Kofi Ackah notes that “the fact that we were nominated was already a great success and to be selected from these nominees for the award was huge!”

En route to Ottawa, the group performed three songs on the special Juno train from Ottawa. “That was so much fun and a great way to connect with other nominees who were on board,” says McNulty.

In an interview with Juno TV after their win on Saturday night, the band members wore beaming smiles, clearly relishing the moment. Vocalist and krar player Daniel Nebiat stated that “we can enjoy tonight, then on Monday I’ll be back at work, driving my taxi.”

That occupation helped bring Okavango African Orchestra major media attention back when the Juno nominations press conference was held in Toronto in February. A Toronto Star reporter hailed Nebiat’s cab after the event, then wrote a human interest piece about the fact that one of the musicians honoured there turned out to be her driver.

FYI interviewed McNulty there, and she explained the project. “The Orchestra represents nine countries in Africa, with 12 languages, representing 10 cultures. There are five composers in the group, and it took a year to work on all the songs together. I’m so proud of them.”

Orchestra member Tichaona Maredza recalls that “We had to learn how to get the instruments to work together, and once we figured that out we are very happy with how it turned out.”

McNulty has long been active on the Toronto world music scene through the Batuki Music Society, an incorporated non-profit community-based organization that promotes African music and art through performances. She is responsible for putting the group together, and she acted as executive producer of the album.

She knew and had worked with the musicians individually, and felt there would be potential in having these players begin to collaborate musically, combining their diverse musical backgrounds and varied instrumentation. That intuition has certainly paid off with Okavango African Orchestra’s Juno win.

The group comprises nine accomplished African-born musicians: Daniel Nebiat (krar, vocals-Eritrea), Tichaona Maredza (marimba, nyunga-nyunga, vocals-Zimbabwe), Donne Roberts (guitar, vocals-Madagascar), Kooshin (kaban, vocals-Somalia), Ebenezer Agyekum (bass-Ghana), Sadio Sissokho (kora, djembe, vocals-Senegal), Nicolas Simbananiye (vocals-Burundi), Aron Nitunga (guitar, vocals-Burundi) and Kofi Ackah (percussion-Ghana).

Their press bio states that “Okavango African Orchestra brings together the traditional music and instruments of several major African cultures that historically have had little or no interaction. The musicians have created a common meeting place for these disparate cultures, and a new musical language that harmonizes their different tuning systems, rhythms, and timbres.

“The musicians and instruments of Okavango represent a continuum of traditions and cultures from time immemorial to the present day. The multicultural spirit of modern-day Canada bridges ancient African solitudes. The ensemble looks ahead on its continuing journey to an “Africa without borders… before the borders were created.”

https://www.fyimusicnews.ca/articles/2017/04/04/okavango-african-orchestra-celebrates-juno-win