African Musical Arts creates the African Arts Exchange with RAC grant | St. Louis Public Radio

African Musical Arts creates the African Arts Exchange with RAC grant

May 8, 2015

African Musical Arts Founder Fred Onovwerosuoke
Credit Fred "Fred-O" Onovwerosuoke

Last November, African Musical Arts was awarded a $50,000 Innovation Grant from the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) to fund a two-year pilot project, “The African Performing Arts Exchange.” In addition to producing concert performances and music engravings of works by African-descent composers, the exchange will offer a web-based platform to share these resources. The Exchange is the dream of African Musical Arts founder Fred “Fred-O” Onovwerosuoke. He and development director Wendy Hymes joined “Cityscape” host Steve Potter to discuss the Exchange and a concert to benefit the project.

Onovwerosuoke said he started African Musical Arts as a way to contribute music from Africans and those of African-descent to existing American music styles. “The beautiful thing about (musical) arts is that it can be expanded,” he said. “We are always looking for new materials, frontiers and horizons. [African Musical Arts] happen to have the expertise to fill that.”

Wendy Hymes, a classically trained flutist who has performed with numerous orchestras and chamber ensembles, became interested in African music as soon as she was introduced to it.

“The minute that I heard [African] music, it just really spoke to me,” she said. “I had always collected flutes from all over the world, and then to have the chance to learn to play African music, the rhythms really grabbed me.”

“It’s important that everybody try and embrace music by African composers,” she continued, “because it develops the musician in you in a beautiful way.”

The African Performing Arts Exchange will be a resource for all people, not just performers. Onovwerosuoke said the project will create a database that allows music educators and directors to search and download content from various African and African-descent composers, including PDF, MP3 and video guide files.

African Musical Arts will host a concert entitled “The Epic Piano Duel” to benefit the Exchange. The concert will feature St. Louis-based pianist Peter Henderson and young piano prodigy Michelle Cann, who made a guest appearance on NPR’s From the Top in 2007.

Listen to the audio to hear music samples from African Musical Arts.

Related Event:

  • What: African Musical Arts Presents "The Epic Piano Duel"
  • When: Saturday, May 9, 2015 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: Parkway United Church of Christ, 2841 North Ballas Road, Town and Country, MO
  • More Information

“Cityscape” is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.