I had an obligation to ensure that others, both now and in the extended future, would continue to find opportunities for developing the talents and skills for their own positive contribution to the development of our country
Musical talent abides in Nigeria as recently showcased by the Christopher Kolade Foundation (CKF). The Musical Excellence Awards were presented at the MUSON Centre, Onikan to five musical prodigies selected from public universities in Nigeria. The award winners were: Awonuga Babatunde David, a 200 level student of the Department of Music, University of Ibadan; Adeyeye Adegorioye Oluwole, a final year student of the Department of Music, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife; Eze Gerald Maduabuchi, a final year student of music, Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka; Adenuga Johnson Oluwajuwon, a 200 level student of Music, University of Ibadan; and Olarinde Olubunmi Rachael, a final year student of Music, Obafemi Awolowo University.
The Musical Excellence Awards organized by the Christopher Kolade Foundation is geared towards rewarding individual achievement, innovation, and creativity in the field of music. The event which took place at the Agip Recital Hall of MUSON Centre was graced by Dr. Christopher Kolade and his wife Beatrice, Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote, former Cross River State Governor Donald Duke, oil magnate Femi Otedola amongst other patrons of the arts. It was a grand evening that kicked off with the rendition of the national anthem and the ballad “Bless this House” composed by the Australian composer May H Brahe and rendered by a tenor singer, piano and choir director, Mbalichizi Chizuru.
Then the MUSON choir, the performing arm of the Musical Society of Nigeria, came on stage and rendered some of the familiar classical tunes as directed by the guru of music Emeka Nwokedi. The mellifluous “Italian Salad” by Richard Genee was sang to wake up the the evening. Then followed “Va Pensiro” from the opera Nabucco Verdi, and “Ibike” by Derrick Esezobor, which the large ensemble performed in a captivating manner backed by the brass section of the orchestra.
The University of Ibadan Choir eventually got in on the act, displaying the amazing talents that Nigeria has on offer all over the nation. Established in 1987 under the direction of Mr. Christopher Oyesiku, a trained singer and soloist of international repute, the Unibadan choir came on stage armed with a wide range of repertory, ranging from Westeran and African choral art music to Negro spirituals and Highlife music.
The apogee of the musical excellence ideal occurred when the five award winners came on stage to perform Burt Bacharach’s “That’s What Friends Are For.” A song made popular by Dionne Warwick, it reverberated through the Agip Recital Hall through the arresting performances of the award-winning musical prodigies. Awonuga Babatunde David was a marvel to watch. Adeyeye Adegorioye Oluwole performed with a panache way above his age.
Eze Gerald Maduabuchi stood out as a boy-wonder with his Igbo “oja” instrument. Adenuga Johnson Oluwajuwon pranced about the stage with a mastery that was uite infectious. Olarinde Olubunmi Rachael was the magnificent vocalist wowing the audience with bewitching mellifluousness. The stage was then set for the climaxing performance by an adroit mixture of the MUSON Choir and the UI Choir. The combined choir rendered songs like T.K.E Philips’ “Emi o gbe oju mi soke wonni”.
It was an excellently choreographed rendition that could rival any performance anywhere in the world. The highly revered chairman of the CKF, Christopher Kolade, a former Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, stated his abiding love for music, stressing: “In my active working life, I have been able to derive much pleasure and satisfaction from the opportunities that my country offered me, and I have been enriched by the unparalleled privilege of working with colleagues who have helped me to express my own productivity in ways that led to our mutual advantage.
Along the way, it was laid strongly on my heart that I had an obligation to ensure that others, both now and in the extended future, would continue to find opportunities for developing the talents and skills for their own positive contribution to the development of our country, Nigeria.” The award-winning musical prodigies were then presented with cash prizes of N250,000 to encourage them in their career in the field of music and to also motivate other students towards creativity and excellence.
We salute the Christopher Kolade Foundation for this excellent initiative that extends the frontiers of Nigerian creativity. It is our desire that other Nigerian eminences should emulate Kolade in giving hope to the young ones. The CKF was founded in 1997 as a platform through which its founder, Christopher Kolade, makes contributions to the development of talents in Nigeria. May the laudable efforts of the CKF continue to flourish in the brave new future.