Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Sonic Frontiers to host Ghanaian saxophonist at Ferg

The Sonic Frontiers Concert Series will host its spring finale tonight at the Ferguson Center Theater at 7:30 p.m.

The concert will feature Nii Noi Nortey, a Ghanaian saxophonist and visual artist. Nortey will perform using woodwind instruments of his own design. He will perform solos, duets and trios with Japanese-American percussionist Tatsuya Nakatan and UA professor Andrew Raffo Dewar, who teaches in New College and the School of Music and organized the series.

This concert will be distinguished from other on-campus concerts because the music will be entirely improvised by Nortey, Dewar and Nakatani.

“This music is strongly connected to the jazz tradition, but in place of playing pre-composed melodies followed by improvised variations on those melodies, the musicians will be interacting together to create new music from scratch that none of them have played before,” Dewar said.

Nortey’s two day residency at the University of Alabama will be one of only two stops in the U.S. during his current tour. While at the University, Nortey will visit classes in the School of Music and New College and discuss his approach to music making, the connection between his musical practice, visual art and connection to jazz composer and musician John Coltrane.

Nakatani, who has been on tour almost continuously during the past decade, will use instruments that he made during the performance.

“Mr. Nakatani is an internationally-renowned musician and an incredible sculptor of sound with percussion,” Dewar said. “He works with both a traditional drum set and a variety of gongs he plays with handmade bows he crafted himself out of wood. The timing of his current road tour worked out perfectly to bring him together with Mr. Nortey and myself for this concert.”

The concerts and class visits by professional performers that are part of the Sonic Frontiers series are organized as a way for UA students, faculty and staff to connect with music professionals and foster artistic diversity and creative exchange on campus.

Dewar said the Sonic Frontiers series has received a positive response on campus.

“We have had an enthusiastic response from those who have attended,” he said. “There have been around 100 people at each concert, which is quite remarkable for a brand new concert series, not to mention for performances of music that for some is considered challenging.”

Ben Addison, a sophomore majoring in piano performance, said concert series like Sonic Frontiers are good for helping music students connect with professional musicians.

“The opportunity to pick the brain of a performing professional is great because Tuscaloosa isn’t exactly a musical center,” he said.

Dewar said Sonic Frontiers benefits UA and the state of Alabama by generating and circulating new ideas through the introduction of artists from outside the Tuscaloosa community, as well as taking advantage of local creativity.

“There is a critical mass of highly creative and innovative people in Tuscaloosa right now, and I believe we are on the cusp of a sea change. To what end, I don’t know, but that’s a good thing,” he said. “Not only are we introducing people here to innovative music from other places, but we are introducing these visiting musicians to the incredible creative community that’s right here happening now.”

The concert is free and open to the public. For more information about this concert or the Sonic Frontiers series, visit

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