April 24, 2008 — The University of Virginia African Music and Dance Ensemble performed with guest artist, master drummer Midawo Gideon Foli Alorwoyie, on April 24 in Old Cabell Hall.
Alorwoyie is a high priest of the traditional Yewe religion, born and raised in Anlo-Afiadenyigba in the Volta Region of Ghana, West Africa. He is highly regarded as one of Ghana's foremost virtuosos of traditional music and dance, has been a legendary influence on the Ghana National Dance Ensemble, and has instructed notable American composers and scholars including Steve Reich, John Miller Chernoff and David Locke.
Alorwoyle is currently associate professor of music and director and principal dancer/choreographer of the University of North Texas African Percussion Ensemble. He is also the chief of his natal village.
The U.Va. African Music and Dance Ensemble, directed by associate professor Michelle Kisliuk, focuses on traditional music and dance forms from West Africa (Ghana, Togo) and also from Central Africa (BaAka pygmies, U.Va. being the only place outside of Africa where this music is studied and performed).
The group develops tight ensemble dynamics, aural musicianship and a polymetric sensibility, performing several times each year. The theme of this year's concert was "playing with perception," which resonated with the material on several levels: multiple rhythms and interactive vocal lines, dance movements and drum calls; also multiple perceptions of Africa in America, at this concert moment, with this combination of performers and audience.