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Fred Onovwerosuoke

OccupationArranger, Composer, Musicologist, Teacher
CategoriesClassical, Soundtrack/Film Music, World, Experimental Music

Award-winning composer Fred Onovwerosuoke’s diverse background has given rise to a varied compositional style. Born in Ghana to Nigerian parents, Onovwerosuoke grew up in both countries and eventually naturalized in the United States. "FredO", as friends call him, has traveled in more than thirty African countries doing field work and analyzing some of Africa’s abundant music traditions. "I see hidden across Africa a gold-mine of unlimited musical scales and modes, melodic and harmonic traditions, and, yes, rhythms - abundant yet largely untapped," says Onovwerosuoke of his dominant influences, and also maintains that "my compositions are informed by my travels around the world, and each piece is harnessed and nurtured by an African sensibility that is unmistakable and genuine." FredO has also traveled extensively in the American Deep South, the Caribbean and South America for comparative research in what he likes to call "traceable musical Africanisms." His influences are wide and varied, and is much at home discussing Handel and Mozart as he is talking about the gonje, mbira, kora, kontingu and balafon riffs, or foremost exponents of African traditional music. In 1994 he founded the St. Louis African Chorus to help nurture African choral music as a mainstream repertoire for performance and education. Today, the organization's mission has broadened to include other art music by composers of African-descent and renamed African Musical Arts Inc.
Onovwerosuoke's works have been featured in audio recordings, films, documentaries and radio, including Robert De Niro's film, The Good Shepherd, William-Chapman Nyaho's CD, ASA and Hymes/Hollister's CD African Art Music for Flute, Hudson/Henderson's CD, Libera, to mention a few. His numerous awards include multiple ASCAP Awards, American Music Center Award, Meet-The-Composer Award, and Brannen-Cooper Brothers Award. His book, Songs of Africa: 22 Pieces for Mixed Choirs published by Oxford University Press has quickly become a favorite among choral directors across the United States and globally. The first volume of Fred Onovwerosuoke's Twenty-four Studies in African Rhythms also rose the charts and is one of the most-demanded African-rhythm influenced piano studies known. His newest book, 12 African Songs for Solo Voice & Piano (distributed by African Music Publishers) now attracts similar buzz, globally. Fred Onovwerosuoke serves on the boards of various professional bodies and has served as Editor of the Voice of African Music newsletter (ISSN: 1938-2332) since 1993. Onovwerosuoke maintains an active schedule as resident composer and visiting scholar. Email inquiries may be sent to info @ fredomusic dot com

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