Naakutendanga Emirembe Gyonna
Naakutendanga Emirembe Gyonna (I Will Praise You God For Ever) was completed on 28 December 2015, following a request by composer Michael Blake for a new composition. The first performed took place at a joint concert of music by the two composers while they were in residence at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies at Stellenbosch University, in January 2019. The work was recorded the same year on the CD, Too Late for the Prayers: Music by Justinian Tamusuza & Michael Blake (AOI Edition CD02): Naakutendanga Emirembe Gyonna is Track 4 and the CD also includes Tamusuza’s Okwanjula Kw’Endere (Introduction for Flute) of 1995. Naakutendanga Emirembe Gyonna lasts for 12 minutes and is scored for vibraphone and marimba, with each player also playing woodblock. Tamusuza’s addition of woodblocks reflects the music of his country, Uganda, and his early training in traditional Ganda music. The inspiration for the piece arises from the composer’s daily meditation about God’s mercy and especially about the Divine Providence that God has bestowed upon the composer’s own life. In a review of the CD for the journal Musiktexte (“Neue Musik aus Afrika” at https://texte.musiktexte.de/mt-173/325/ausgewahlte-scheiben-neuer-musik, accessed 31 May 2022) music critic Max Nyffeler writes: “Tamasuza’s compositions are, to European ears, what might be described with the blanket term ‘quintessentially African’. Their finely crocheted rhythm and their linear progressions obviously obey an immanent logic, but can only be partially grasped with our form categories”. From the perspective of the Ganda music grounding Tamusuza’s compositional style, the form is transparent and the idiom decidedly modern.