Music and dance from West Africa and beyond

2017/18 EVENTS

Director: Dr. Kofi J. S. Gbolonyo

The UBC African Music and Dance Ensemble (UBC AMDE) was founded in September 2009 by Ghanaian ethnomusicology professor Dr. Kofi J. S. Gbolonyo. The ensemble, which is also a course (MUSC 165D/565D) focuses on music and dances from Africa and specializes in repertoire from West Africa region. This course/ensemble introduces the drumming techniques, dances, and other artistic expressions of Africa. Directed by Dr. Gbolonyo, the ensemble does not limit its activities and repertoire to drumming but tries to present a complete or total African artistic expression—music, dance, drama, and visual arts. Through the drum, the voice, the dance, and other visual art forms and paraphernalia, this ensemble brings to the stage a unique and total African theatrical experience.

In addition to performing traditional pieces, the ensemble performs neo-traditional, contemporary African art compositions, and African popular music. African art compositions include choral works and pieces for solo voice, piano, flute, xylophone, and other African traditional and Western instruments. The ensemble performs works by African composers such as Ephraim Amu, Akin Euba, Walter Blege, George Wolasi Dor, and Divine Kwasi Gbagbo. The ensemble also features African popular musical genres including West African Highlife and Central African Suokuos.

The ensemble is open to all UBC students (either as a credit or a non-credit course) and to all other persons within and outside the University of British Columbia interested in African performing arts.

Ensemble/Course Goals and Repertoire

  • Learn and perform African music and dance as they occur in their traditional settings.

  • Create new forms of African and African derived presentations in new theatrical contexts.

  • Create opportunities for all interested people to experience the music and dance of Africa (both from home and the Diaspora).

  • Provide a broader and better background of understanding of Africa, Africans and people of African descent and in the African Diaspora.

  • Gain a broader and deeper knowledge and the scope of African culture from the philosophical, historical, spiritual, political, aesthetic, and artistic dimensions.

  • Recognize attitudinal values and belief systems in African socio-cultural practices and to develop an appreciation for and intellectual engagement with African art forms.

  • Identify and analyze peculiar stylistic tokens that mark the African artistic systems.

  • Understand the ways in which African indigenous philosophies and identities are linked within artistic and socio-cultural formations, particularly along axis of gender, class, and ethnicity.

  • Contribute to the broader Canadian multicultural and ethnic integration agenda.

Membership 

The ensemble comprises (1) music majors and non-majors, graduate students, and undergraduates (who may choose to earn credit); (2) any other person within and outside the Greater Vancouver community who are interested in African arts and culture. Individuals may enroll in the ensemble for a year (two terms) or on a long-term basis for as long as they wish. It is strongly advised that students/members continue with the ensemble a on long-term basis so as to ensure a total understanding enjoyment of African performing arts.

Activities 

Our activities include public end of year/term concerts and other performances on or off campus, lecture demonstrations, workshops, and other educational and entertainment activities that fall in line with the University’s policies. Concerts performances at the end of every year or semester give members opportunities to present what they have learned to the public, alongside professional performers of African music and dance.