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Hannibal Lokumbe Commission for Penn Museum Africa Galleries

The world premier of Hannibal Lokumbe’s commission of new music inspired by the Penn Museum’s Africa Galleries.


Classic composer and jazz trumpeter Hannibal Lokumbe will create a new 45-minute piece inspired by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology’s (Penn Museum) recently opened Africa Galleries. Hannibal Lokumbe’s compositions explore the African American ancestral experience. His new piece will draw on the themes of the Penn Museum’s new Africa Galleries which celebrate the richness and diversity of Africa’s artistic creativity, moral and spiritual practices, family and gender relations, languages, and organization of social, economic, and political systems. Hannibal is interested in indigenous languages of Africa; echoing African sounds and techniques; and sampling the sounds of the word “god” from people that speak these languages.

The Galleries were designed to deepen the conversation about African material culture, its representation in Western museums, and its connection to the African Diaspora. As with most Western museums, the foundational objects of this collection were created in or taken out of Africa during periods of enslavement and colonialism. Hannibal’s commission will add to this discussion by exploring the legacies of these displayed objects. In addition, a core volcalist for the performance has Yoruban heritage.

The piece will be performed three times between September 10 and 13 in the Museum’s recently renovated Harrison Auditorium, with the goal of 800 people attending between the three performances. Hannibal will perform alongside seven performers: bass guitar, lead guitar, drums, percussion, piano, and two female vocalists. Most of the musicians are from Philadelphia, with two coming from Maryland. Hannibal will also give a masterclass talk over the same weekend about the new piece and analysis of the score.

This collaboration will impact the Penn Museum’s creative practice by introducing a musical interpretation of the galleries to further engage audiences. The Penn Museum’s mission is to transform understanding of the human experience, and the new Africa Galleries play a key role in fulfilling that mission. The Africa Galleries are part of 10,000 square feet of reimagined galleries and public spaces across our Museum’s Main level opened to the public in November 2019. This reopening marked a pivotal moment for the Museum, which has long been known for its remarkable objects that emerge from its excavations and research across the world. The transformed galleries display these objects and their powerful stories in engaging and accessible ways for all audiences. This commission will now extend this new approach to programming inspired by the galleries.

Familiar to Philadelphia audiences through his many local performances and commissions including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Hannibal Lokumbe’s new commission for the Penn Museum will deepen Philadelphia audiences’ connections with our Africa Galleries’ themes and connections to the modern-day African diaspora. Working with Hannibal, we will invite community partners in the African American and African Diaspora communities in Philadelphia to one of the performances for free. The performance will be recorded and posted on the Museum’s website and YoutTube channel, which has over 33,000 subscribers and 7.8 million views, to further extend the reach of this project into the future.

Start and End Dates



Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Project Created By

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

In Collaboration With

Composer and performer
Bastrop, Texas


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