Live broadcast from the Helsinki Music Centre 8.4. – KABUNGA! – Sibelius Academy Choir, conducted by Merzi Rajala

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University of the Arts Helsinki - SIBELIUS ACADEMY presents:

Helsinki Music Centre - Helsingin Musiikkitalo - Camerata Hall, April 8, 2017 - 18:00 EET(GMT+3)
KABUNGA! – Sibelius Academy Choir, cond. Merzi Rajala
More information and tickets to the concert
The red thread in Kabunga! concert is to present songs and rhythmic aesthetics from Benin, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Ghana and to witness how these influences were carried over to Cuba during the time of slave trade in 1500–1800. We also invite you to hear a couple of brand new songs mixing African, Cuban and modern vocal arranging approach. The traditional way to present the styles mentioned would only include drums, bells, sticks, dancing and mainly unison singing in the form of the soloist calling and choir responsing. These traditional elements have also been inspiration for Merzi Rajala, the conductor and arranger of the concert on her way to transfer West African music to a modern mixed choir. All the rhythms heard in the concert, sung or played are based on the traditional drum patterns from each style performed. While learning the new rhythms, the choir has also worked on Voice Painting, live arranging sign-language created by Professor Jim Daus Hjernoe, in order to create some new and unique songs made in the moment for the Kabunga! -audience. Finally: Kabunga is an Ghanaian slang word for “super” or “great”, and well describes the shared feeling of joy this project choir has experienced during the rehearsal period. Welcome! Merzi Rajala


Trad. Ivory Coast, arr. Merzi Rajala
soloists: Noora Kauppila, Sakari Heikka, Heidi Kiviharju
“My mother has given me everything, what am I going to do with it? I have to use it and share it”
At the end of the song the altos invite you to Fankani: A new rhythm invented at Ivory Coast to celebrate its independency in the 1960s.
Three traditional songs from Senegal, arr. Merzi Rajala
soloist: Anni-Kaisa Haukka
Song 1:
“A hippo has fallen in love with a young girl, look how the girl has beautiful face/neck/hair Mandinga people, I can take you everywhere in Mandinga world”
Song 2:
“I went out to be busy I went out, but when I came back the door was closed.
I knocked but nobody answered”
Song 3:
"The wind brings, the wind takes away, the dawn brakes it"  
(Please note! the traditional lyrics often carry several meanings and metaphoras.)
Trad. Benin, arr. Merzi Rajala
soloist: Juuso Waris
This little song is accompanied with kaka rhythm from Benin. The choir first introduces the theme with three of the rhythms traditionally played with sticks. Further In the choral arrangement you can hear numerous traditional kaka bell and drum patterns arranged for voices. The arranger took a liberty to also compose a little extra here and there.
“The wind brings, the wind takes away, the dawn brakes it”
Lyrics by Kasheshi Makena, comp. Arja Paju, arr. Merzi Rajala
soloist: Kasheshi Makena
Brand new, modern Tanzania / Finland co-operation song, based on both East and West Arican and Cuban influences.
Choral version premiere
“Sleep my baby, like a pono* in the sea, don ́t cry, I am beside you, I will warm you, be calm beside me, don ́t feel cold anymore”
 *fish, that lives in the depth of the sea
Lyrics by Kasheshi Makena, comp. Arja Paju, arr. Merzi Rajala
soloist: Arja Paju
Brand new, modern Tanzania / Finland co-operation song, based on both East and West Arican and Cuban influences.
Choral version premiere
“You are my light, you don ́t let me go alone, you show me where to go, every step I take you are there, your presence is real, I feel you, you blow like a wind, a calm ocean wind. I won ́t stop singing you, cause you make my heart happy, I won ́t stop mentioning you, cause your name is too sweet to me. You are the driver of mine, not letting me fall in the cave, You hold my hand, you don ́t let me stumble, You are my voice, you also know what I want to say. Even if I don ́t say a thing, you are on behalf”

Trad. Cuba. Transcribed by Merzi Rajala, batá arr. Tero Rantanen
soloists: Heidi Oilimo, Iida Savolainen, Heidi Kiviharju
West–African slaves transferred to Latin America 1500-1800 carried their religious and musical tradition with all the way over the oceans. In Cuba these traditions were preserved in a form of Santeria religion, which is a syncretized form of Yoruba tribe religion and catholicism. Similar reflections of religion and music can be found in many slave trade countries in Latin America f.ex. Brasil (candomblé) and Haiti (woodoo)
In Santeria religion all different orishas (saints) have been dedicated with certain songs and rhythms (tokes) to worship with. The songs are sung in Yoruba language, and it has remained orally in Cuba from generation to another.
 Oya: orisha of winds, lightening, violent storms, death and rebirth.
Trad. Cuba, arr. Sexto Sentido, orch. Merzi Rajala
soloist: Zane Perkone
A modern approach (2014) from Vocal Group Sexto Sentido Havana, Cuba to represent traditional Santeria canto.
Eleggua: is said to be the most important of the orishas in Santeria. Eleggua was the first orisha created by Olodumare and he existed prior to and witnessed creation unfold. He is the key to any of our religious practices, for without Eleggua’s blessings nothing can proceed, transpire nor succeed in the world. Eleggua is the owner of all roads, crossroads, and doors. He allows our prayers to reach the orishas.

Merzi Rajala
Sibelius Academy Choir:
Roser Pla Gabriel
Anni-Kaisa Haukka
Sakari Heikka
Päivi Järvinen
Noora Kauppila
Heidi Kiviharju
Markus Larjomaa
Tuuli Lehtomäki
Kristine Liede
Maleena Linjama
Elina Nurminen
Heidi Oilimo
Inari Palmqvist
Jussi Paalanen
Zane Perkone
Maija Perälä
Laura Petäjä
Anu Rautakoski
Iida Savolainen
Lily Solomonov
Aixa Toledano Benitez
Suvi Tolvanen
Iiris Tonttila
Juuso Waris
Special guests:
Kasheshi Makena, Arja Paju
Batá palyers:
Arja Paju
Tero Rantanen
Reino Ruusu
FOH/Sound engineer: Markus Kärki
General Manager of the Sibelius Academy Choir: Susanna Laine
Special Thanks to:
Sibelius Academy Choir Committee
Markus Bonsdorff
Video production:
Video:  Keijo Lahtinen
Sound:  Mikko Ingman
Lights:  Sirje Ruohtula
Producer:  Susanna Laine
Check out our other concert broadcasts:
Youtube channel: Uniarts Helsinki


All copyrighted music licenced by Teosto, the Finnish Composers' Copyright Society.