For the founder and Artistic Director, Vesta Orchestra and Opera Foundation, Rosalyn Aninyei, art music (classical music) does not only matter, it must be accorded the right place in the nation’s arts and culture space.
Speaking at the Afri-Classical Concert held at Alliance Francaise, Mike Adenuga Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos, recently, she observed the country is blessed with exciting art music composed by Nigerians, both in the past and contemporary, which have never been performed and heard.
Founded in 2017, she disclosed the orchestra has been changing the narrative by curating and commissioning compositions by Nigerians and performed to an enthusiastic audience at the quarterly Afri-Classical Concert in Lagos.
Disclosing her journey into music, she recalled, “I started playing the piano at age six, but dropped the instrument as a teenager. I realised at 19, however, that I needed music in my life and found my love for the violin.”
Speaking on challenges, she disclosed they have battled the rough terrain for artists in general. “Art music is not popular in any part of the world. When we speak with potential sponsors here in Nigeria, they like what we do but want to put their weight behind more numbers-driven initiatives,” she stated.
Saying entertainment is more profitable on the short run than arts and culture, she, however, argued, “long term though, the benefits of sponsoring an initiative such as ours transcends just the balance sheet. It changes lives that go on to change other lives and eventually, society.”
Having lived many years in Vienna, Austria, she said it’s amazing to see how much is put aside for the promotion of arts and culture over there.
To her, “this is a point of pride and financial income for the country. It is my wish we get a government that initiates more focus in this direction.”
Explaining her choice of Lagos for Afri-Classical Concert, she revealed, “I grew up here. As soon as we find sponsors willing to support our concert series, we will go to Abuja, Calabar, Port Harcourt and other states where we know there is interest.”
On what she is doing to make youths relate with Vesta Orchestra, she said they have been granted approval by the Lagos State Ministry of Education to teach music classes to secondary school students in a cluster of schools.
“We are yet to start, as we need sponsors to help with the purchase of instruments and other teaching materials for the over 200 students registered on the programme. They are very interested and our aim is a Lagos State Public Schools Band. We would teach them to play instruments they can use to earn a living as musicians- trumpet, guitar, piano, drums and others,” she stated.
Having studied at the University of Vienna Austria, Aninyei proceeded to work at Treasury at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and at the Bank of Brazil also in Vienna. She also studied to become a Violin Restorer and later returned to Nigeria in 2016, when she made music her career.
She noted the next concert is coming up on May 20 in Ikoyi.