The Ballanta Academy of Music bears the name of Sierra Leone’s greatest musical theorist and aesthetician, Nicholas George Julius Ballanta, who composed, conducted, performed and thought deeply about the character and nature of music, particularly African Music. Like many of his countrymen, he had his basic training in western music on the front parlour piano and developed his musical taste in the church choir.
But Ballanta was a genius. He charted his own way into the exploration of African indigenous music at a time when very few people anywhere in the world had any interest in the subject. From his conventional beginnings he advanced to visions far beyond those of anyone else in his time and was, therefore, in some sense a lonely man.
Ballanta’s researches into the aesthetics and philosophy of African music took him from Kissy to the Gambia to the United States to Germany and above all, to many parts of Africa, where he collected examples of African musical forms. Had his works been properly published at the time, they would have shown him as a pioneer in African studies as well. If the Ballanta Academy of Music is to live up to the name of its illustrious eponym, it should aim at an open-minded approach to music encompassing the Western, the African and other traditions as well. It should also encourage a cross-fertilization of traditions. This is very much the aim of the Ballanta Academy of Music, to live up to these noble ideals.
27 Liverpool Street Freetown Sierra Leone West Africa Tel: +232 22 227743