The University of Gondar’s College of Social Sciences and Humanities in association with the U.S Embassy organized an event to bring to the forefront music and its many intrinsic dimensions. The workshop that was held on 14 and 15 March 2018 saw an American Bluegrass band play to a packed Ethiopian auditorium and the response of the audience was electrifying.
The Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Dr. Kassahun Tegene, welcomed the guests who were in attendance and opened the event that marked the first time in UoG history where a Bluegrass band performed lived. Gebremariam Yirga, the head of the Music Department, and who is a staunch advocate of the arts expressed his pleasure with the event. Such musical icons such as Sertse Firesebhat, who was an Ethiopian idol judge at one point, and who is musically talented in all aspects of the word motivated the audience members on the discipline of music and imparted some much needed wisdom in his presentation
Before entering the campus though the band made a brief stop at the University of Gondar Community School to entertain the students. The Community School was founded and established by the University of Gondar over a decade ago to give quality education to younger students and the community. In addition, perhaps after the display of the Western music they may be inclined, in their future, to take up the arts and contribute to Ethiopian culture in this way.
The workshop focused on and presented a number of musical activities. Music’s healing power is well known and its practice throughout the world is different among countries. But one thing that binds them together is that overwhelming feeling that individuals have when their ears are tuned into the beat, rhythm, melody and tempo of a song.
Bluegrass music is no different. This unique genre is a form of American roots music, and is defined by its unique homage to America and its various cultural influences that truly define the States. Influenced by the music of Appalachia, bluegrass has mixed roots in Irish, Scottish and English traditional music, and was also later influenced by the music of African-Americans through incorporation of jazz elements. Hence Bluegrass is truly an American pastime which stems from the American culture itself.
Crow and the Canyon, an American Bluegrass band, performed at the University of Gondar’s Aluminum Hall in Maraki campus. They played songs like ‘Sunny side of Life’ and ‘Crow and the Canyon’. Inspiring the audience members who were in attendance, the band also answered questions that were posed to them by Social Science students. Their invaluable advice and pointers will be sure to stick with the students for a long time.
The University of Gondar’s Department of Music in large part should be acknowledged as influencing the music scene in Gondar. The department has been doing its fair share to spread the love of music with its many technical and artistic aspects. It has in one year become a prominent department and is seen doing a number of training and workshops in the North Gondar region.
With the incorporation of essential instruments and labs the University of Gondar is on the right path in this regard. Music can be the light in a world so dark and its significance has not been overlooked at this educational institution.
By Samuel Malede| Public & International Relations Directorate