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Philip Glass

Publisher: Chester Music

Ifè: Three Yorùbá Songs (2013)
Dunvagen Music Publishers Inc
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
19 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
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Programme Note
Philip Glass Ifè: Three Yorùbá Songs (2013)
December 23, 2013
I have known Angelique Kidjo for more than twelve years now and have worked with her on concerts where she was performing her own music as well as several collaborations on small pieces and performances which we have done together. Through this I have come to admire her deeply personal and powerful music personality both as an artist and performer. So I was most interested when she proposed several years ago that I compose a set of songs for her in the Yoruba language of her native Benin.

The first challenge for me was to find the best rhythmic and melodic setting for poems in a language that was, until then, completely unknown to me. I asked Angelique to record the poems - a set of three creation poems of Ifè, one of the most important Yorùbá kingdoms and thought by the population to be the place the world was created.

This required, on my part, an extensive audio analysis of the rhythm and phrasing of the Yorùbá language. I found thereby that the text itself, as recorded by Angelique, was profoundly lyrical and most beautiful.

After that, the composition of the orchestra music came quickly and readily to my ear. When it was completed Angelique and I worked together to refine her vocal part so as to match the actual sound of the Yoruba language.

This has been for me a wonderful musical journey. At the conclusion of our work together, when I could finally hear her singing of the text within the musical composition I had completed, I said to her, "Angelique, together we have built a bridge that no one has walked on before. " She replied with a burst of laughter as beautiful as any words she could sing.

Philip Glass

  • 06 DEC 2019
    Eindhoven, Netherlands
    Antwerp Symphony Orchestra

    Other Dates:
    7 December - Antwerp, Belgium
    8 December - Brussels, Belgium

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