Professor J.H. Kwabena Nketia

Composer J. H. Kwabena Nketia, was born on June 22, 1921 at Mampong Ashanti (Ghana). He began his formal training in music in a Teacher Training College in Ghana, continued at Trinity College of Music, London, and later at Julliard School of Music, Columbia University (with Henry Cowell) and Northwestern University for short periods as a Fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation. Membership of the International Music Council (UNESCO) and other international music organizations enabled him to interact with several eminent western composers and educators. Exploring ways of writing art music that utilizes African resources and modes of expression in their own terms while allowing for the application of techniques that expand or enrich it without submerging its identity has been his primary goal. The need for this was demonstrated by an older composer Ephraim Amu, his mentor, who specialised in composing new choral music. It was he who encouraged him to go to “the traditional musicians and learn from them” becausethis was “how he started.” Following his advice, Nketia combined composition with ethnomusicology, concentrating on Africa as his primary area of field research interest. He has published several scholarly articles and books, including the Music of Africa (W.W.Norton, 1974), which won an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award in 1975, and which has been translated into a number of languages, including German, Italian, Chinese and Japanese. Nketia has written not only several choral works and solo songs in his own language, some of which are broadcast by the Ghana Broadcasting and Television Corporation, but also a number of instrumental pieces which draw their inspiration and source materials from different ethnic groups