for soprano and piano

Robert Fokkens

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for soprano and piano

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Composer Robert Fokkens
Year of Composition 2007
Duration ca.7'
Instrumentation Soprano, Piano
Categories (all composers) ,
Catalogue ID ce-rf1a1


David Diop was born in France of mixed Cameroonian and Senegalese parentage in 1927. He moved between France and West Africa throughout his life – he studied in France, and as an adult he worked as a teacher in Senegal and Guinea until his early death in 1960 in a plane crash. His single published volume of poetry, Coups de pilon (“Hammerblows”, 1956) demonstrates his commitment to both the ‘negritude’ movement of twentieth-century Black French language writers, and Africa in the era of rapid post-colonial liberation which followed the second world war.

My affinity with his extraordinary poem Africa derives from a number of things: his acknowledgement of alienation from the romantic notion of historical “Africa” and indeed, to some degree from modern Africa due to the significant amount of time he spent in France; his courage in addressing unflinchingly the issues Africa faces and acknowledging that, for the continent, much is still to be done; and, perhaps most importantly, the visionary quality which sees these issues as the birth pangs of a powerful future.

Africa was commissioned by the SAMRO Endowment for the National Arts for Claire Booth (soprano) and Andrew Matthews-Owen (piano), who gave the first performances on the bmic’s Cutting Edge Tour in 2009.