IFE, Three Yoruba songs with Philip Glass


On January 17th 2014, the Orchestre Philharmonique Du Luxembourg performed the premiere of the Ifé, the cycle of songs Philip Glass composed for Angelique, using her own lyrics from three poems she wrote in the Yoruba language. The songs were performed again at the Philharmonie de Paris on October 3, 2015. 

We saw an exposition on the Ifé kingdom at the British Museum, and it’s from this that I wrote the three poems. When [Philip] read the poems, he saw something that he transcribed into music. And then when I reinterpreted the poems through his music, I saw the same thing.
— Angelique Kidjo

Ifé was the most important Yoruba kingdoms. It is believed to be the place where the world was created. The god Olodumare sent his Orishas Obatala and Oduduwa to the world, in order to create the land. Yemandja ran away and joined the ocean Oshumare, the rainbow snake, encircles the earth and prevents it from falling.

It doesn’t sound African; it doesn’t sound European. It sounds—well—something else.
— Philip Glass

Philip Glass discusses the collaboration with the Philharmonie du Luxembourg.

Just one day before the world premiere of his piece "Ifé" by the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg and Angélique Kidjo, American composer Philip Glass took us through the creative process behind it. He knew Angélique Kidjo and he knew her voice but he didn't know in which language the text for the vocal part would come.

Angélique Kidjo discusses the collaboration with the Philharmonie de Paris (video in French).

"Avec Angélique, nous avons construit un pont sur lequel personne n'a marché jusqu'ici." La force du propos de Philip Glass est à l'image de sa collaboration avec Angélique Kidjo, dont il a mis en musique les poèmes dans "Ifè" (2014). Pour en savoir plus : http://philharmoniedeparis.fr/fr/activite/concert/15435-angelique-kidjo-philip-glass