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An Enchanting evening in celebration of 200yrs of Chopin Music

As the evening breeze gently swayed the ribbons and other decorations, he walked in with a sense of purpose, and paused briefly to take in the surrounding. His sweeping gaze observed the walls draped in the traditional Makerere red, black and green; the audience murmuring softly;

the piano, set and ready to go; and finally the dignitaries conferring quietly at the high table. With a satisfied grin, he took a few steps and assumed his position at an imaginary podium. Back straight and respectfully clutching the programme of the day with both hands in front of him, he cleared his voice and made his remarks.

“It is my honor, to invite you today, to a concert where we are celebrating 200years since the birth of Francois Fryderyk Chopin,” remarked Prof. Justinian Tamusuza, Department of Music, Dance and Drama and emcee of the evening, as he welcomed the audience. The Chopin Music Concert was jointly organized by the Quality Assurance Directorate and The Department of Music, Dance and Drama, and featured eight of the over 230 pieces of Chopin’s surviving work.

Francois Fryderyk Chopin (1 March 1810 - 17 October 1849) was a Polish Composer, Virtuoso Pianist, and music teacher of French-Polish parentage. He was one of the great masters of Romantic music, and his music is penetrated by a poetic feeling that has an almost universal appeal. On the evening of Friday November 26, 2010, Makerere University’s Senior Common Room played host to the first ever Chopin project in East and Central Africa, and four of Uganda’s distinguished pianists; Fredrick Kiggundu Musoke, Wilson Tamale, Job Ivan Tezigattwa and John Baptist Walugembe had been lined up to enchant the audience.

The evening’s able emcee was however not yet done with his audience. Before he could invite the Vice Chancellor to address his guests, he ordered everyone in the room to switch off their phones and strictly not to applaud, until the pianists had finished their pieces, as signaled by a polite bow. “I am a dictator and I hope we will all adhere to this,” he added to the amusement of the now anxious audience.

The Vice Chancellor Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba in his speech read by Dr Tickodri-Togboa, commended the Quality Assurance Directorate and the Department of Music, Dance and Drama for embracing the University’s strategic vision. “As an institution that is increasingly becoming conscious of the importance of integrating internationalization in her core functions, we are truly proud to be the pioneers not only in Uganda, but in the East African region to participate in this project,” remarked Dr Togboa. Without further ado, Prof. Baryamureeba then wished everyone a great evening.

Wilson Tamale holds an Associated Board of Music (ABRSM) diploma in piano playing and has until recently, been living in Iowa State, USA. He kicked off the evening’s performances with an Etude in C Major. Op. 10 No.1, and the audience were immediately captivated. The audience watched with almost bated breath as this up-tempo piece, which required swift movements of the fingers as well as accuracy was played. However, the towering Wilson Tamale seemed to breeze through the piece and the resounding applause as he bowed at its end was well earned. His performance had indeed set the pace for this “vehicle artistic expression”, The Chopin project.

The bespectacled John Baptist Walugembe was soon to follow with another Etude in F Minor. Op. 25 No.2 and the first Nocturne of the evening in A flat Major. Op. 32 No. 2. Whereas Etudes as piano pieces focus on stretching the fingers, Nocturnes on the other hand are shorter pieces with a song-like melody. Walugembe an Engineer by training who currently works as a management consultant showed his expertise in not only playing the more dazzling Etude but also seamlessly switching to the more melodious Nocturne. A respectful bow after playing both pieces and the applause that followed confirmed the audience’s appreciation of Eng. Walugembe’s piano mastery.

The youthful Job Ivan Tezigattwa then played two Nocturnes in E Minor. Op 72 and E flat Major. Op. 9 No. 2. Tezigattwa a Bachelor of Music Student at Makerere University sought to explain that Nocturnes were best suited for playing in the evening; a time most relied upon by lovers to woo their partners. Starting off with the Op. 72 composed by Chopin in 1827, Tezigattwa then switched to the popular Op. 9 No. 2. A glance at the audience at this point revealed faces unmistakably lost in reflection. The evening of musical enchantment had indeed claimed its victims. Their reverie was soon abruptly brought to an end as the piece turned more passionate as it wound up.

Next up was the most traveled of the evening’s pianists. A Civil Engineering graduate from Makerere University, Fredrick Kiggundu Musoke holds the Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music (LRSM) in piano performance and the Associated Board of Music (ABRSM) Diploma in piano teaching and flute performance. He has performed at the National Theatre, in Amsterdam with the Nairobi Ochestra, at the Edinburgh Festival, and at a luncheon held in honor of Her Majesty the Queen of England when she visited Uganda during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2007.

Before his performance, Musoke dedicated the Ballade in F Minor Op. 38 to his late Engineer Father, who admittedly spent 60% of his time playing the piano. The ballade which opens very softly progresses into an almost violent tempo before halting suddenly then resuming with calmer tempo till its end.

Eng. Walugembe then returned to perform the Waltz Grand ValseBrillante in A Flat Major Op. 34 No. 1, and thereafter Musoke returned to play the evening’s last piece, A Scherzo in C# Minor. Op.39.

Reacting to the evening’s performances, Mr Carr, husband to Mrs. Fiona Carr who taught piano at Makerere University in the early seventies commended the artists for a job well done. He praised the organizers for a putting together a state-of-the-art show, which brought back memories from their times at Makerere where students of the Department of Music, Dance and Drama congregated in the Senior Common Room to listen to similar performances.


The Vice Chancellor's speech - MS Word Version, PDF Version, Postscript Version




mwamai@admin.mak.ac.ug, Public Relations Office

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