Africa: World’s Biggest Orchestra Unites Across Cultural and Physical Divides

Nearly 200 countries, 197 musicians, one band, one song: the Earth Orchestra has made musical history releasing the first song recorded by a musician from every country in the world, and showing how people can transcend physical and cultural borders to come together in the process.

The Earth Orchestra’s song “Together is Beautiful” – recorded in different locations then mixed together – was released on Friday along with a documentary telling the stories of some of the musicians.

The brainchild of Emma Newman and Jude Dexter Smith from the UK, it took two years to track down and record musicians as varied as a horse head fiddle player from Mongolia to a pianist from Liberia.

“Connecting with a musician from every single country in the world has been an incredible experience for us both. Music is such a potent tool of communication, and to see these people and hear the final recording with all 197 musicians on it is so powerful.”

This was a lovely thing to be involved with!

– Samuel Pegg (@samuelpegg) December 4, 2020

Fifty-seven of the 197 musicians and singers met in May 2019 in the mythic Abbey Road Studios in London to record the bones of the song.

The project was overseen by the British award-winning composer George Fenton. But many of the musicians improvised around his melodies and themes, combining musical styles and using instruments indigenous to their countries.

Many musicians from the African continent took part in the project, including Ghana’s Nli Kwartey Owoo whose talking drum can clearly be heard at the end of the song.

Singer Olgha Nk, from Cameroon, said she saw the project, which was three years in the making, as “the whole world holding hands because it touches every country, every culture, every people”.

Other musicians were also taken by how unifying the project was at a time when the world is so fragmented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Romanian musician and double bass player Michael Cretu said he felt the song was exactly what the world needed right now, “more collaborations with everybody,” he said.

Listen and download ‘Together is Beautiful’ here. The ‘Together is Beautiful’ album is due for release on 15 January, 2021.

(with Reuters)


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