The orchestra program started in collaboration with the national theater as a youth wing of the Pan African orchestra mainly to explore the African musical traditions.
The group was pretty successful back then and members had the opportunity to travel around the world until the lack of funding ground it to a halt.
It was not until three years ago when Kweku Kwakye, a master musician, decided to resuscitate the orchestra, handpicking children from schools in the capital to reconstitute the group.
Currently, Kwakye and his team are working with about 36 young musicians whose ages range from six to 16.
“These are kids that have no idea of any of the instruments they are playing. They just showed interest and we trained them from the scratch up to the level they are right now.”
The group calls its music the new traditional African music — a new system of making African music that utilizes instruments from diverse musical cultures from the continent.
It renders a motley collection of lively African sounds drawn out of an array of traditional instruments.
The leadership of the group wants to use the art to revitalize Ghana’s culture which they say is gradually fading away, with foreign cultures now having so much influence on Ghanaian children.
“Even today, an average 10-year-old Ghanaian has no idea of his or her culture and some of us find it our responsibility to help preserve our culture. And by doing so we think it is very good to inculcate that into children; then they can pass it on to generation after them,” he told Xinhua in an interview.
Jemimah Adu-Sekyiwah has been playing the flute for more than two years now and says she has not regretted joining the orchestra, as it has motivated her a lot and brought her in constant touch with celebrities.
Selasi Afi Sabah, a Xylophone player, calls for support for the orchestra as it plans to tour abroad to project African music and culture.
Tina Marie Johnson, an international dancer from Iceland, loves to watch the children perform and plans to seek support for their activities.
“This is very inspiring and it must continue. They cannot let this tradition go. This is the only thing they have left I think. They inspire so many people with this,” she told Xinhua.
The orchestra is now looking forward to expanding to include 108 musicians playing instruments from diverse musical cultures from Africa. Enditem
Source: Xinhua/News Ghana