Ashley Kang ’04, G’11 has spent most of her career telling stories that often go untold. As director of The Stand—a community newspaper written for and by Syracuse’s South Side residents, in partnership with the Newhouse School—Kang works with a…
Hendricks Chapel Sponsors Student-Led Organ and Choral Music Workshop in Accra, Ghana
Through support from Hendricks Chapel, students and faculty from Syracuse University, the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and Brooklyn College will travel to Accra, Ghana, this August to participate in a weeklong workshop on organ and choral music alongside Ghanaian hosts.
The Accra Organ and Choral Music Institute, organized by Samuel Kuffuor-Afriyie ’20, an organ performance major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, will provide Ghanaian musicians an opportunity to network, learn and perform as a community. The institute, which runs from Aug. 11-17, is open to musicians of all experience levels who are interested in enhancing their skills in organ performance, voice and choral conducting. It will take place in Christ the King Church and Parish Hall in Accra.
Faculty instructors for the workshop include Anne Laver (organ, Syracuse University), José “Peppie” Calvar (choral conducting and voice, Syracuse University), Malcolm Merriweather (choral conducting and voice, Brooklyn College), Nathaniel Gumbs (organ, Yale Institute of Sacred Music) and Jessica Montgomery G’20 (voice, Syracuse University).
“It’s an opportunity for everyone attending to learn from each other,” says Kuffuor-Afriyie. “The instructors from the United States will learn about Ghanaian culture. And likewise, the participants and Ghanaian musicians will learn about music performance from us.”
Each day of the workshop will feature group lessons in the morning, workshops on special topics in the afternoon and rehearsals with guest choirs from across Ghana in the evenings. The week will culminate with a large workshop for local musicians and an evening concert featuring participants, faculty and guest choirs.
Registration is open on the Accra Organ and Choral Music Institute website, where those interested can find more information on the fees, schedule and faculty. Salt and Light Ministry, a Ghanaian nonprofit religious organization, is assisting with the administration and hosting of the institution.
Anne Laver, University organist and associate professor in the Setnor School of Music, is assisting Kuffuor-Afriyie in organizing the institute. She recently organized the Syracuse Legacies Organ Conference on campus and has led a number of educational camps and organ workshops for high school students. For this event, though, her motivation goes beyond the music.
“When a student comes up with a compelling project like this, as a teacher you want to do everything you can to support it. That’s my main motivation,” says Laver. “Sam has been eager to help with everything I ask of him, so when he came to me so determined to organize this workshop, I was inspired to do anything I could to help him.”
Kuffuor-Afriyie says he was inspired to plan an organ performance institute in Ghana last summer during a visit there. Of Ghanaian descent himself, he was visiting friends and family and learned that music education in Ghana is focused on musicology and theory rather than performance. As an organ performance major, he wanted to give more people the opportunity to hone that skill.
There is also value to the connections that these workshops bring. As a high school student, Kuffuor-Afriyie attended an organ workshop where he was able to meet fellow young organists and learn from university-level instructors. The experience gave him the motivation he needed to continue his studies, he says, and helped him feel less isolated in his unique career field.
“As a student, this is important to me because I see so much chance in life. When someone gives you an opportunity, you need to take a chance. Just like when I auditioned here, Dr. Laver and SU took a chance on me,” Kuffuor-Afriyie says. “In doing this workshop I’m just trying to share what I’ve learned.”
Kuffuor-Afriyie’s spirit and passion helped motivate Hendricks Chapel to sponsor the organ institute. As the home of one of the University’s organs, Hendricks Chapel is invested in supporting the musical arts, as well as fostering individual student growth. As the student-centered global home for religious, spiritual, moral and ethical life, Hendricks Chapel is also compelled to support such a profound experience of cross-cultural exchange.
“At Hendricks Chapel we seek to have a global impact,” says Hendricks Chapel Dean Brian Konkol. “Because music and the arts are critical to our mission, this opportunity to support students and accompany our global companions was met with great enthusiasm. I am personally delighted!”
Other sponsors of the Accra Organ and Choral Music Institute include the Setnor School of Music, Ghana Wesley United Methodist Church, and the Syracuse and Brooklyn Chapters of the American Guild of Organists.