I used to be one of those young people that made grown-ups worry about the future of humankind with us as its shepherds.
Occasionally though, there are glimmers of hope that this downward spiral of digital pseudo-existence might somehow slow or even reverse.
I attended the chamber music concert Cumulus last month at the Wheatbaker hotel. Now this is unique in that there just isn't a lot of chamber music being performed in Nigeria. It's also unique in that this original chamber music piece was composed, performed and organized by young people.
If you think it takes a lot of effort for "kids these days" to sit silently and mostly motionless for 2 hours to listen to live classical music, try composing or performing a piece of classical music where absolute attention and precision are necessary.
It was ironic to watch Ré Olunuga, the composer and producer of the event, who must not be 30 yet, turn around and give stern looks to people twice his age who didn't pay attention to instructions and clapped between movements (an excusable mistake since many of even the older Nigerians in the audience probably had never attended a classical music concert), or even worse were chatting during the performance.
Seriously, you grown-ups need to learn how to focus and pay attention.
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The piece itself, Cumulus, an original classical chamber composition written by Mr. Olunuga, and produced by him and Oyinda Adelumola, contained 7 movements. Each movement had an almost painfully minimalist explanation accompanied by a cloud photograph in the artistic brochure.
The fully acoustic instruments included a string quartet and two pianos. The musicians deserve credit for their performance. They are: John Jesuyemi, Joseph Ojo, Seun Aborisade, and Jude Olabanji on strings. Tobi Oguntade and Johnson Adenuga played the two grand pianos.
At several points during the piece, a flute, a trumpet, and an oboe joined the orchestra from somewhere in the audience. This was a welcome spacial and auditory treat that helped to expand the performance throughout the room.
The composition was airy, light, and at times eerie, much like Cumulus clouds are. At several points I was almost overwhelmed with emotion invoked by the music. After the show, I heard other people saying they cried, or almost cried during the show. Not from sadness, but from an overflow of emotions caused by hearing something so beautiful, presented so well.
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It's not often that you get this type of reaction from a performance that is entirely analogue. You might wonder how 6 ancient instruments can fill a room holding 200 people. They actually can put out a lot of sound but the real trick is in the acoustics of the room. You can tell that great care was given to this. There were rough wooden panels standing on all walls and 3 fish-tank looking huge wooden acoustic diffusers on 3 walls brought in for the performance.
Overall, an amazing, interesting performance and one of those events that helps to make Lagos an incredible and livable city. I hope to see more from Ré and his musicians.
Written by Rich Tanksley.
Rich Tanksley is the former CEO of Pulse.ng. He now does strategy consulting when he is not enjoying all the fun things Nigeria has to offer.