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January 31, 2017

Playlist: Highlights of Angélique Kidjo’s Music

Rennia Rodney
By Rennia Rodney

Angélique Kidjo and Bruckner Orchester Linz give a breath of new life to classical music in this celebration of black culture.

University of Michigan assistant professor of German Kira Thurman chatted on the phone with Bruckner Orchester Linz conductor Dennis Russell Davies about the group’s upcoming unique program featuring works by composers who wrote about the experience of Africans and African-Americans.

It is no secret that African-Americans are widely underrepresented in classical music. Black classical music is often exoticized and politicized, regardless of the composer’s intent. Musicians can face enormous pressure to conform to traditional classical sounds. As a result, black classical music can often be swept to the wayside.

On February 2, 2017,  Bruckner Orchester Linz brings a unique program of works by composers who wrote about the experience of Africans and African-Americans.

Ife: Three Yoruba Songs: A fusion of Yorúbá culture and classic symphony

One part of the program is Ife: Three Yorúbá Songs, a collaboration between Philip Glass and Beninese singer Angélique Kidjo. Glass composed this piece which weaves traditional Yorúbá poems with a lush orchestral background in which “the instruments would take turns playing with her.”

The piece is written in Yorúbán, giving a unique take on classical music that “doesn’t sound African, doesn’t sound European,” but rather a completely different sound altogether.

Grammy Award-winning international artist Angelique Kidjo

Angelique Kidjo. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“Music has the power of breaking boundaries and unifying people beyond all the barriers we create.” –Angélique Kidjo

With a career spanning 30 years and filled with critical and commercial successes, the Benin-born and Paris-based singer Angélique Kidjo has cemented her status as one of the most influential international artists of today.

Ahead of this special performance, we’ll leave you with a playlist of Kidjo’s music:

Join us at Hill Auditorium on February 2, 2017 to experience Bruckner Orchester-Linz’s thrilling celebration of African and African-American classical music.


Rennia Rodney is pursuing a BFA Theatre Performance major and Minor in Business at the University of Michigan. She is also a digital media intern at UMS. She is particularly interested in marketing strategy and excited to work with UMS this season.