The River Niger Project
"Fleuve Niger" is based on a historic concert performed at The Basilique in Paris in 2009, conducted and composed by Tunde Jegede. It's a sublime fusion of classical and African music with a ensemble of musicians including The Brodsky Quartet of London, Oumou Sangaré, Toumani Diabaté, Kasse Mady Diabaté, Juldeh Camara and several other extraordinary musicians from West Africa.
The project has three parts; the release of a CD of the concert, a world tour with the entire ensemble and the production of a feature documentary titled "Fleuve Niger". The film will document the coming together of the classical and African musicians and tell the story sung in the lyrics; the river that flows through the Sahara Desert and the culture along it's banks.
THE RIVER NIGER
Through the heart of West Africa flows a river that runs from the Fouta Jallon Mountains in the West to the volatile Niger delta in the East. It passes through many countries and territories including Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. Through millennia the river has seen kingdoms, nations and civilizations, rise and fall, but it continues relentlessly on its annual cycle as a heartbeat, nurturing both the land and the peoples of this part of the World.
With the challenge of the encroaching desert, the river marks the continuum from past to present always adapting to new circumstances yet remaining true to its own source. Tradition is like the river always needing to change to new circumstance yet remaining true to its source. In the Griot Tradtion, music is its water, flowing in the moment yet reflecting the eternal.
How does a legacy remain true to itself and yet be free to move with the times? Are there still lessons to be learned and drawn from the traditions of old?
Music and culture, like the river, are also the heartbeat of the people for they carry the hopes and aspirations against and through the challenges and harsh realities of daily life. It is the people’s bloodline with the griots and artists as the voice of resistance or the channel of reassurance, the guardians and custodians of the collective heritage.
(Paris concert photos by Sunara Begum)