As the sun got down on Saturday evening the first of September, Georgette and Sylvie opened the monthly concert at Villa Karo’s stage.
The audience was entertained first by a small theatrical company from Cotonou, with actors from as far as Congo D.R. and Côte DIvoire. Their play dealt with multicultural encounter in a small African village and it was starred by the Santa Claus himself, who was saved by a local sorcerer from the overwhelming heat of Africa. The audience was clearly enjoying the spectacle and especially sorcerer’s original voodoo dance made the public laugh.
After the play a talented multi-member orchestra from nearby town, Les Pigeons Verts de Comé, got up to the stage. The rhythms of the band and the beautiful voice of an originally Grand-Popolese singer Toujov filled the air. The children in the audience were asked to participate in a dancing competition on stage.
Toujov and Les Pigeons verts de Come
In the midst of all the music and dancing, a quiz was organized by a local NGO on environmental issues, which put the Popolese audience reflect among others, the importance of the shadows that trees offer, and to recall the name of the species of mosquito which carries the malaria parasite.
Full moon guarded the homeward-bound concert guests.
One more month before it’s time for the last scholarship holders to leave Villa Karo’s residency and return to Finland. It’s been a good year with, as usual, many moments of happiness and times of being lost in translation, cultural faux-pas’ and moments of mutual understanding in Villa Karo. But it’s not the end of the year yet! Here’s what’s happening in the times to come.
This year’s second last sholarship holder translator, researcher Simo Määttä will reach Grand-Popo by the time I post this writing. He’ll be working at the residency for five weeks with a research project before coming back to Finland. Beninese painter Yves Midahuen, the last scholarship holder of this year, will arrive in Villa Karo on the 4th of May and stay there for four weeks. At the end of his stay he’ll put on an exhibition in Villa Karo’s Lissa Gbassa for the month of June. It’ll be this springs third and final exhibition in Villa Karo.
Fisher men by Yves Midahuen
Teni-Tedji, a marionette group, will be holding a workshop in Villa Karo for the children of Grand-Popo on the first weekend of May. We shall get back to you about this with pictures.
Villa Karo’s own multitalented board member Anna Ovaska and curator Tintti Timonen will be working on a new museum exhibition in Villa Karo’s museum during the month of May. The exhibition will open in September of this year to the people of Grand-Popo, scholarship holders and passing tourists. At the same time Anna will be laying down the foundations of Villa Karo’s upcoming first virtual exhibition. Yes, you heard me right! You’ll get to see what Villa Karo’s collections and the new exhibition has to offer even if you aren’t able to go and see by yourself! At the same time, hopefully, VK’s homepage’s appearance and content will be finally updated. The project is trarting now and will be finished by the end of the year.
But not all upcoming events are taking place in Benin. The 2nd of June Villa Karo will take part in a festival that will take place at Narinkkatori, in Helsinki. The other organisers are Walter ry, radio SPIN FM, 09 Helsinki Human Rights, Namika, Funk on ry and FIDA among others. We’ll have there our former scholarship holder Camilla Heidenberg performing and holding a workshop with her husband Georges Agbazahou. Also five artists affiliated with VK will take part in charity event with five graffiti painters. A big plate of street culture and sports with a flavouring of Villa Karo will be offered to you on Narinkkatori that day.
During the months of summer, although it’s quiet in VK, we’ll have a big piece of the centre’s heart here in Finland with us as VK’s director Kwassi has kindly agreed to lend us here our chère Georgette and cher Richard from VK. They will come here in July to meet friends and acquaint and learn from their Finnish colleagues in August. Welcome Georgette and Riku!
Afrikkalainen iltapäivä -konsertissa Aristide de Souza tarjoaa talven taitteeseen lämpimät terveiset Beninistä. Hän esittää sekä perinteistä beniniläistä että improvisoitua musiikkia. Aristide soittaa balafonea, djembeä, laulaa ja tanssii. Mukana musisoimassa ovat myös Franck Koumolou (djembe, laulu), Maija Karhinen-Ilo (laulu) ja mahdollisesti muitakin yllätysesiintyjiä.
Lauantai 14.1. klo 15
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Real, traditional, seductive and communicative music by MIDJOUBA from HEVE, a suburb of Grand-Popo, delivered the goods on Saturday night re concert of the month.
Midjouba, a folkloric group founded in 2006 presented a great show that attracted thousands of souls from the beginning to the end.
Midjouba, in their concert, tried to send a message to the younger generation about the danger of severing our ancestral link by importing and mixing too much of western tradition into our daily lives . The key to traditional communication lies in the link between the young and old folks and their capacity to merge ideas for good results in community development was the message throughout the concert. All these were demonstrated by short musical sketches to strengthen their message to the audience, especially the youth. A message well digested by all generations, young and old is already in the archives of the folks.
KAKA-KAKA. Félicitations !! félicitations !! is the single french word pronounced by a great audience to congratulate Janne Storm, Felix Agossou and Gabriel Teiko, three resident artists in Villa Karo who performed wonderfully on the stage of the French Cultural Centre in Cotonou on Friday 30th September.
They preceded the main event of the night LA NUIT DE LA PAROLE by association KATOULATI. Same scenario took place in Grand-Popo on the red terrace stage of Villa Karo the following day 1st of October 2011. Backed by young artists from Comé, Janne Storm and his African Stipendiates presented a great concert, this time preceded by the group KATOULATI with stories recited by griots from Togo, Burkina Faso and Republic of Benin. These kind of stories told by grand parents during our infancy just to keep them company on full moon nights.
An hour session by Janne and his group was so that the audience amazingly fell in love with them. They played all kinds of music including KAKA, a rythm that sent the whole audience back to the root of their tradition with incredible demonstration of feet taping and chest druming that provocated great joy. Traditionally, KAKA is played to wake up adepts of all kinds of religion from their slumber to shake off the devil. It is danced in a way that even the disabled ones can be part of the game.
« Incroyable mais vrai », it was totally unbelievable even to me that Janne Storm understood and played KAKA to the surprise of all. IT IS VERY INPORTANT TO AIM HIGH TO AVOID ACHIEVING VERY LOW.
Next Thursday (October 6th) is a great occasion for lovers of really good music around Helsinki. Camilla Heidenberg (FINLAND, former scholarhip holder of Villa Karo) and Georges Abgazahou (BENIN) are giving a concert at Feeniks club. As the artists put it, prepare yourself “for a soulful mixture of afro, pop, jazz and classical music with piano, vocals, djembe, percussion”.
The group has been performing all over Finland and in France this past summer. As George’s stay in Europe is, for now, coming to it’s end in a few weeks, this will be one the last possibilities to hear their music live in Finland this year. Don’t miss it!
The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra (RSO) visited Villa Karo in 2009 to honour the 10th anniversary of the centre by playing a concert for the people of Grand-Popo. The concert was held on the stage of Lissa Gbassa, VK’s exhibition and concert building, by the beach of Grand-Popo. RSO’s eventful trip became the subject of a documentary film (Afrikan sinfonia, directed by Jenni Nyberg, YLE productions).
Also meet the dancing and singing children of Grand-Popo as well as Noël Zaïzonou, a Beninese virtuoso in dance and music. How do they see our western musical tradition?