Nigerian violinist enlivens classical music in Lagos

STORY: This Nigerian man is singing about a soldier who failed to cook a dish of beans.

The operatic song is performed in the Yoruba language.

Location: Lagos, Nigeria

Classical music has not been well known in Lagos, but that is changing,

thanks to the work of one passionate violinist.

Rosalyn Aninyei founded the Vesta Orchestra in 2017 and it has since enlivened the classical music scene in Lagos.

Aninyei came up with the idea of the orchestra while she was living in Vienna.

‘’My flat was actually behind the opera house and it was always a dream of mine to come home to Nigeria and discover our own classical music and so I did that, I came home, joined hands with a few friends and we formed the orchestra and now we have a foundation that sees to it that young musicians in Lagos have a place to perform music.’’

Aninyei's Vesta Orchestra performs new works by contemporary Nigerian and African composers.

And they have continued to grow, drawing in crowds with new concerts.

‘’With music you don’t have to convince anybody, people are looking for it and so when we put our adverts out they come. We have followers on our YouTube, our social media and they come because they are looking for this. As unpopular as it is, it is also wanted by a certain group of people because art has its audience and so you don’t have to convince people.’’

Half of the program at this event – the Afri-classical series - was music by African composers like Victor Uwaifo, Bobby Benson and Seun Owoaje.

The former – Owoaje – composed that song from earlier about the soldier cooking beans.

The scene is part of the opera titled "Kitchen Pictures at a Military Camp."

The music has clear connections with the classical repertoire rooted in Europe,

but the choice of the Yoruba language and the story anchored the performance in Nigeria.