Northfield Youth Choirs will commission and perform a work by Ghana native Sowah Mensah that is inspired by the music he loved as a child while growing up his native Ghana in West Africa. We will premiere the work during our regular concert season in various southern Minnesota rural communities (most likely Cannon Falls, Faribault, New Prague and Northfield, MN) and continue performing the work as we embark on our annual tour of the Midwestern U.S. Sowah’s composition will then become part of our permanent repertoire.
The NYC presently consists of seven choirs and summer programming that serve over 200 children grades PreK-12, college students, and adults. Highlights include annual Midwest tours, performing on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, premiering a work at the Northfield Sesquicentennial Governors’ Ball and Northfield Arts Guild’s 50th Anniversary Beaux Arts Ball, and opening the legislative session in the house chamber. They have performed in prestigious venues including Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, UK, Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago, and the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis. This season they will make their Carnegie Hall debut.
Sowah Mensah is an ethnomusicologist, composer and a “Master Drummer” from Ghana, West Africa. Sowah has taught music in both Ghana and Nigeria and is currently a music professor at both Macalester College, and the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN where he also directs each school’s African Music Ensemble. Sowah is the director of Sankofa, a Ghanaian Folklore and Dance Ensemble in the Twin Cities and a member of Speaking in Tongues, a four-piece group based out of the Twin Cities that uses two percussionists, a bassist and a Chinese pipa player.
Sowah enjoys an active performance career. In August 2003 Sowah toured Beijing, China with the Kenmore Wind Ensemble from Kenmore, WA to perform his composition “Nyamo” for Band and African Ensemble where they performed at the prestigious Tsinghua University. Sowah was then invited back in June 2004 to conduct a series of workshops for high school music teachers and students. In May 2000 he made his Carnegie Hall, New York debut as a soloist in David Fanshaw’s African Sanctus. He has performed extensively in the United States, the Latin Americas, and in Africa, where he performed with the Ghana National Symphony Orchestra, as well as many folk festivals in the US. In addition, Sowah presents clinics, lectures, workshops, and residencies at many colleges, elementary and secondary schools, churches, and music organizations all over the U. S. Sowah is also an accomplished composer. In September 2004, he re-arranged “Sii Sii Sii” for Chorus and African Drums for the Central Middle School in Cape Girardeau, MO. “Asomdwee” written for SATB was completed in October 2003 and premiered by World Voices in December 2003 at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. School, WA commissioned this work, which was premiered at the Washington State M.E.N.C. in Yakima, WA in February 2002. It was also performed at the National M.E.N.C. convention in Nashville, TN in April 2002. Sowah’s third solo album, Sii Sii Sii, was released in March 2007.