Introducing the pipe organ in Rwanda video
02:21 National Anthem
04:15 Humura Rwanda
Introducing the pipe organ in Rwanda
free organ pdf link
Connecting two countries by bringing the pipe organ to Rwanda over a Telemidi distance of 17,404 km is no small feat...but worth every effort !
(Telemidi is the process of sending MIDI data over the internet)
On March 4, 2023 at 10am PST/ 8pm Rwanda, Master Musicians from three continents have achieved the first of its kind cross continental Telemidi Pipe Organ performance and educational workshops in Africa.
Humura Rwanda (traditional song)
As part of a collaborative effort to bring the pipe organ to places the instrument does not exist, organist Michael Dirk, (vice president of Vancouver RCCO) performed on March 4th at Vancouver St-John's Shaughnessy an arrangement of a Rwandan traditional song (Humura Rwanda) written by Vancouver composer Denis Bédard. This performance was delivered to Rwanda through Telemidi technology providing a live accompaniment for the choir of Rwanda School of Music and Arts led by Janvier Murenzi in Muhanga, Rwanda. Michael Dirk’s performance was also mirrored by Telemidi in Calgary at Knox United Church with organ specialist Steve Miller. You can find a free music score (PDF) of Humura Rwanda on Denis Bédard’s website: www.cheldar.ca
That’s Not All
A section of the arrangement was specifically written to be performed from Rwanda on a digital keyboard and be heard on the two Canadian organs. Music teacher Benimpuhwe a.k.a. Noel in Rwanda successfully played the swell keyboards in real time on both Vancouver SJS and Calgary (Knox United Church) pipe organs while Michael Dirk performed an impressive pedal solo ! This was not easy ! In order to compensate for latency and play in perfect synchronization, (approx 300ms of Telemidi data travelling 17,404 km of internet) Noel had to play his part ahead of Michael’s performance by a quarter note (88bpm) ! It is funny to think this could be the first cross continental duet piece performed !
Nothing short of a Miracle
Under the direction of Matt Bray (PhD researcher in Telemidi technology at Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia) the long distance telemidi performance was transmitted successfully via a « hotspot » cell phone, since there were no internet connection available in the hall !
“This was nothing short of a miracle ! » exclaimed Gilles Parenteau, project director and inventor of his custom made « organ Virtual Symphony ».( www.virtual symphony.org)
It was Love at First Pipe !
During a time period of 2 weeks 170 music students were invited to discover the sheer size of the instrument and its repertoire through Telemidi and zoom sessions. Thanks to RCCO members Sandra Fletcher, Steve Miller and Michael Dirk, young Rwandan musicians have experienced both listening and playing a real pipe organ across continents for the first time.
The Unexpected :
The performance of the Rwanda national anthem sung by the school’s choir (150 students) was the perfect piece to merge the pipe organ with Rwandan music, making Noel the first local Rwandan musician to be performing on 2 pipe organs across the Atlantic Ocean !
A Joyful Evening
An « open mic » session followed the main performance (national anthem and Humura Rwanda) with an overwhelming participation from the students. These young adults (age 18-22) showed a new found love for the organ by taking turns in playing freely on the « telemidied » Canadian organs which could be seen on a large screen. The evening ended with a heart felt performance of Amazing Grace by Fabrice (music student) singing while playing both Vancouver and Calgary organs at the same time ! A moment none of us will ever forget. (see video link below)
What’s Next ?
Before our return to Canada, government official Paul Umukunzi (Dipl.-Ing.Director Général of post secondary education) invited us to meet with him at his Kigali office. Many ideas were tossed around including the possibilities of returning to Rwanda and repeating the event on a larger scale. The Rwanda Music School has performed on many occasions for président Kagame on the anniversary of the genocide. The idea of a multi national telemidi performance to commemorate next year’s 30th anniversary of the genocide is a possibility. At this time, we would like to hear from RCCO and AGO members who would like to join in on this venture. A national/international effort could be realized by adding multiple pipe organs and/or choirs in a single performance demonstrating a gesture of support and compassion towards the people of Rwanda. The event takes place early April 2024. You can reach us at www.virtual symphony.org/contact
Our vision is to see this project grow and eventually bring these amazing music students here to perform for and with us so they could one day touch and feel in person our patrimonial instrument.
The video of the Rwanda March 4th 2023 performance is posted on Gilles Parenteau’s website : virtualsymphony.org/rwanda).
Gilles Parenteau (project director,Nelson, BC), Matt Bray (telemidi director, Perth, Australia) and Dominique Soutif (music producer,Ottawa, Ont) coordinated and produced this Canada/Rwanda project. Jacques Murigande (artist name Popo and former Canadian Juno recipient) is the director of the School of Creative Art and Music in Rwanda.
Spécial Thanks to :
Popo and all music teachers and students
Steve Miller (pipe organ specialist)for making this project a success
Michael Dirk for his amazing talent and patience
Denis Bédard for the most beautiful organ piece we could have wished for
Sandra Fletcher for sharing via zoom her passion and knowledge of the instrument
Matt Bray for his dedication during the last 2 years to make this project a reality
Dominique Soutif for his expertise and insights on and off site
Francis Gagnon for his mentorship and guidance
John Tucker, Selkirk College, RCCO and AGO members for their continuous support and encouragement
Pat Bidart from SAGE Colleges & Institutes Canada , office located in St-Lucia,
Caribbean, six other African countries were also invited to view the performance.
Noel Wentworth for his tremendous help and professionalism in the medias
Funding for this project was kindly provided by the Canada Arts Council.