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Wives Revolt at MUSON Festival

Ben Tomoloju with Cast of The Wives Revolt

J.P Clark’s famous play, ‘The Wives Revolt’ will be one of the major highlights at this year’s edition of the Music Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Festival, the festival committee chairman, Kitoyi Ibare-Akinsan has announced.

Ibare-Akinsan who made this known recently in Lagos said this is in line with the objectives of the Festival to use the Performing Arts to increase the number and extend the scope of interest of MUSON’s membership.

“We hope to create more public awareness of MUSON’s objectives and activities and promote the MUSON Centre as a veritable Centre for the Arts in Nigeria.  These have remained the objectives of the annual Festival to this day.  The scope of the Festival has, over the years, included Classical Music, Jazz, Drama, Poetry, Visual Arts Exhibition, Nigerian Youth Talent Competition and Concert, Nigerian Traditional Music and Dance and Choral Music and Opera. However, the scope and content of each year’s Festival has ebbed and flowed with the quantum of funds available for staging it.”

MUSON Vice Chair, Louis Mbanefo, with Excos

R-L: MUSON Vice Chair, Louis Mbanefo, with Excos

With the theme ‘Celebrating the 20th Anniversary’ this year’s festival kicks off with the traditional event, ‘My Kind of Music’ featuring Banke Ademola, Ifeoma Fafunwa, Benson Idonije and Yemisi Shyllon      on October 20, 2016. This will be followed by Chevron Festival Drama, ‘The Wives Revolt’ by J. P. Clark but directed by Ben Tomoloju on October 22 with the Total Festival Opera, The Bartered Bride written by Bedrich Smetana, to be performed on October 23.

The MUSON Day Concert and Cocktails, Musiquest/Youth Concert and    Jazz Night come up on October 25, 26, 28 respectively.  The Classical Concert featuring MUSON Orchestra conducted by Walter-Michael Vollhardt will feature on October 30.

In addition, Ibare-Akinsan said MUSON has continually continued search for new ways of ensuring the survival and continued growth of the Festival, therefore it has embarked on a policy of inviting outstanding Nigerian stakeholders in the visual and performing arts to collaborate as partners by contributing their events to the Festival programme.

“The objectives are: to give deserving recognition to such stakeholders, broaden the Festival’s appeal and share the increasingly heavy burden of operating alone,” he explained.

And so, this year’s anniversary festival will feature Visual Arts Exhibition by Treasure House Ltd from October 14 to 30. There will be a performance of Declassical Music’s ‘’Fela … Arrest the Music – A Musical’’ from the 14 to 16.

Likewise, SPAN’s ‘’Block 13 – Dance Concert’’ and Workshop will take place on October 21 while ‘’Pincode (Stars on Earth)” Dance by Ice Nweke and Lagos International Poetry Festival’s ‘’Poetry & Music Concert will come up on October 27 and 29 respectively.

While speaking on how the festival began 20 years ago, Louis Mbanefo, vice chairman, MUSON, said the founders of MUSON never dreamt that their modest aspirations to create an avenue for the enjoyment of classical music would blossom into a highly successful organisation.

“I never dreamt that the experiment of staging a festival in 1997 (during my Chairmanship of MUSON) would lead to 20 consecutive years of highly successful Festivals!  Indeed, the annual festival has become the major item in the MUSON Calendar,” he said.

In January 1996, a “Mini Festival” at the MUSON Centre.  That was the name given to a fixture of three consecutive nights of varied concerts given by first-class performers from the Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow.  The idea of a full-scale Festival continued to germinate and blossomed into a plan to hold a one -week festival which would coincide not only with the third anniversary of the MUSON Centre, but also with the 80th birthday of our first Chairman, and now Patron, Chief Ayo Rosiji.  Both events fall on the 24th February 1997. Ever since, the festival has grown.

In spite of its achievement in the last 20 years, funding has impeded the growth of the MUSON festival. “The greatest challenge we have faced over the years, in continuing the tradition of staging the Festival annually and ensuring that the scope of each Festival is as broad as possible, is that of finding and retaining sponsors for the planned events. The challenge has grown in recent years, leading to a reduction of the scope of the Festival over time.  However, we have been resolute in our resolve that the Festival must go on and must continue to meet the highest standard of artistic excellence,” said Ibare-Akinsan.

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