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Friday, May 6, 2016

Sonic Safari to bring the sounds of Africa to the Ozarks

Thursday, August 2, 2012

AFRICAN CULTURE will take center stage at the West Plains Civic Center Theater at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 24, when The Songs of Africa Ensemble from St. Louis performs "Sonic Safari." Tickets are $8 each, and available at the Civic Center box office, 110 St. Louis St. Children age 13 and under will be admitted free.
(Photo courtesy Matt O'Harver)
Don't worry if you didn't make it to Africa this summer. The Songs of Africa Ensemble of St. Louis will bring the sights and sounds of this intriguing land to you as they perform their educational concert "Sonic Safari" at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24, at the West Plains Civic Center theater.

The local performance is being sponsored by the Missouri State University-West Plains University/Community Programs (U/CP) Department and is funded, in part, by the Missouri State-West Plains Annual Fund. Tickets are $8 each; children age 13 and under will be admitted free. Tickets are available at the civic center box office, 110 St. Louis St.

The Songs of Africa Ensemble is a part of African Musical Arts, Inc., (AMAInc) a non-profit organization founded in 1993 by full-time composer and musicologist Dr. Fred Onovwerosuoke that seeks to promote better understanding and greater appreciation of African music. Since then, it has become the region's premiere outlet for fostering and promoting composers of African descent who write traditional and contemporary choral music, as well as chamber and orchestral music that portray Africa's rich musical diversity, officials said. AMAInc has been in the St. Louis area nearly 20 years and receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Comprised of eight professional singers accompanied by a five-person band, the Songs of Africa Ensemble's "Sonic Safari" performance transports audiences to life on the African continent through compelling music that engages audiences to move, clap and sing along with the performers, according to AMAInc's director of development, Dr. Wendy Hymes.

"We call it 'Sonic Safari' because it's a safari for your ears, for those of us who can't travel," Hymes explained. "You can taste the culture through the music."

The performance will incorporate multiple African languages and instruments. "It's a very eclectic group," Hymes added. "We teach audiences not only about the music from Africa, but the culture as well. It's very interactive."

"We're thrilled to be able to offer this entertaining and educational program to the community," said Deborah DeWitt, coordinator of U/CP theater and events. She said more information about African cultures and music will be available at the event.

"Hopefully, people will come away entertained and maybe with a little bit more understanding about African cultures," Hymes said. "That's really our goal -- to expose new audiences to this music so they can appreciate it."

For more information about AMAInc. or Songs of Africa, visit www.africarts.org. For more information about the Aug. 24 performance in West Plains or other U/CP events, call 417-255-7966 or visit http://wp.missouristate.edu/ucp/.

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