Jude Nwankwo

Founder and director of Enugu-based J-Clef Chorale and music lecturer at University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Jude Nwankwo, has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the Morehouse College Glee Club Subsaharan Africa Commissioning Project.

The recipient is one of the pupils of the first professor of music made in Nigeria, HRH Laz Ekwueme.

In the Fall of 2016, the Morehouse College Music Department in Atlanta, United States of America (U.S.A.) issued a call for early-career Nigerian composers to submit applications for consideration. This project builds on the Morehouse College Glee Club’s reputation of performing African choral music under the direction of Wendell Whalum, Uzee Brown Jr., and David Morrow.

In December 2016, Nwankwo was selected. Speaking to TheNiche from Atlanta on Friday, April 7, via Whatsapp call, the recipient said the organisers were impressed by the quality of his two compositions.

Mr. Nwankwo was commissioned to write a three- to five-minute piece for TTBB (male-voice) choir on secular themes in one of Nigeria’s roughly 500 languages. He selected the Yoruba language and the title of the new work is “Iya Mi” (My Mother).

The recipient, who hails from Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State, has, for now, kept his reason for choosing Yoruba language, instead of Igbo, his mother tongue, close to his heart.

Though the price money, TheNiche gathered, is $500 (less than N200,000), the honour is worth the effort. Date for the presentation of the award has not been made known as at press time.

For his outstanding performance as the best student in his department, with a First Class honours degree in music, Nwankwo was retained by UNN as a lecturer. He has since cornered his masters degree and working on his doctorate.

His research interests are in music composition and choral music performance. He has many compositions and arrangements for both vocal and instrumental genres to his credit.

The music prodigy ventured into music at the age of 13 when he joined St. Gabriel Catholic Church Choir, Bariga, Lagos. His quest to learn more made him join the Rosa Mystica Choral Voices, Chorale de Magnifique, and the Laz Ekwueme Chorale, all based in Lagos.

It was at the Laz Ekwueme Chorale that he discovered his hidden musical potentials. Hence, he was encouraged by the director, Prof. Ekwueme to go and study music at UNN.