Oluzayo Festival - Cologne Edition

OLUZAYO – “What lies ahead“ – is the title of the first music festival of its kind in Cologne. Orchestral and ensemble music, sound art and electronic music, improvised music, transcultural mixtures and indigenous forms, all of which have one thing in common: the connection to the African continent and its musical forms and traditions. In a total of around 15 concerts at three venues, OLUZAYO presents the innovative power of African music with concentrated power and breaks with familiar patterns of reception. From May 31 to June 4, artists from Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Angola, Rwanda, Somalia and Senegal, among others, will be guests in Cologne and provide the audience with new perspectives and emotional impressions.

The opening program "Where do we go from here" on May 31 at the Comedia Theater in Cologne is a highlight of the program with new compositions from Nigeria, Italy, Ghana and Inner Mongolia. The Ensemble Modern, conducted by Vimbayi Kaziboni, will give four world premieres of works by Onche Rajesh Ugbabe, Yang Song, Gabriel Abedi and Michele Sanna. For example, Onche Rajesh Ugbabe deals with the question of how his ancestors would have made music with the instruments that exist today, while Gabriel Abedi transfers the sound and playing style of a lute-like instrument from Ghana, the seperewa, to a contemporary chamber ensemble.

During three nights (June 1 - 3), the two organizers, Cologne Center for Contemporary Music and its South African cooperation partner NewMusicSA, invite you to the Cologne Stadtgarten. Excitingly varied programs are presented there by the experimental songwriter Sibusile Xaba, whose music is inspired by the traditional lines of Maskandi music and the Zulu songwriters, the duo Ancient Voices, which takes up traditional Xhosa music, and the internationally renowned composer Victor Gama with his unique set of self-developed instruments. Also to be experienced: avant-garde electronic facets and exciting discussions, surround sound art and an experimental club night. Also on board are Ocen James & Rian Treanor, Catu Diosis, Nonku Phiri, Jay Mitta & Kadilida, the Ndagga Rhythm Force and Satch Hoyt with his research project "Afro-Sonic Mapping".

OLUZAYO ends with Lukas Ligeti's "Suite for Burkina Electric and Orchestra" on June 4 in Cologne's festive Sartory Saal. The suite is a kaleidoscope of colors and contrasts that emerge in the common, inspired by the idea and challenge of overcoming cultural differences and connecting musical languages. The internationally renowned ensemble Burkina Electric combines West African musical tradition with avant-garde concepts and Afro-Pop, electronics and modern dance, while the Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne plays on classical European instruments. The program is complemented by an early South African orchestral piece, the symphonic poem "Fatše La Heso (My Country)" by the Lesotho composer Michael Mosoeu Moerane.

From June 1st to 4th, "African Futures Radio" from the gallery "Gemeinde Köln" at Ebertplatz will present a listening hour, live guests and playlists curated by artists of the festival.

The festival program will continue in Johannesburg in late November / early December 2023.