(Version française)



A touching far-reaching portrait of Joseph Emidy.

New creation by Tunde Jegede (Anglo-Nigerian composer and multi-instrumentalist), THE EMIDY PROJECT tells the extraordinary experience of Joseph Antonio Emidy, a mixed-race violin virtuoso from the 18 th century, who was a slave before becoming a conductor and composer. Tracing Emidy’s path, these chronicles recount an astonishing journey across three continents.

They convey the moving story of someone who travelled oceans, lands and cultures embracing the worlds of classical, African and South American music, more than two hundred years ago. In this multimedia creation, video, images, dance movements, music and words interact and enrich one another.

Discover the music of The Emidy Project here 580b57fcd9996e24bc43c537

Artists :

Tunde Jegede (Nigeria) – direction, kora, cello, composition

Diana Baroni (Argentina) – baroque flute, vocal

Simon Drappier (France) – arpeggione

Rafael Guel (Mexico) – vihuela, percussion, vocal

Lassina Touré (Ivory Coast) – dance

Sunara Begum (Bangladesh) – film

Arthur Daygue (France) – sounds and lights


Emidy and slavery

First composer of the African Diaspora, he was a slave in Brazil, a virtuoso violinist at the Lisbon opera and the founder of the rst Philharmonic Society in Great Britain.

Born in Guinea in 1775, he was captured by Portuguese traders, to be shipped to Brazil and work in coffee plantations. Spotted for his talent as a young violinist, he was sold to the Portuguese court where he worked at the Lisbon Opera until he was seized by British sailors during the Napoleonic Wars. Over the following years, back to serfdom, he roamed the world as a ship ddler on a vessel owned by the famous Navel Admiral, Captain Edward Pellew, until he was released in Falmouth in 1799. He then settled in Cornwall, England, and earned a living as a violinist and teacher, while also composing chamber music, concertos and symphonies, unfortuna- tely lost.


He was in term appointed director of the Orchestra of Truro, Cornwall’s capital, and became one of the most outstanding musical gures of the early nineteenth century. Emidy fathered ve children and passed away in Truro on April 23, 1835. His life journey is an example for mi- norities and young generations eager for emancipation and recognition, such as those touched by the «Hidden Routes» project set up by Tunde Jegede in Cornwall.

The creation

This is a tale which highlights very contemporary problems through a vibrant, smooth staging.

This project is built around the extraordinary life of Joseph Antonio Emidy, a fascinating 18th century gure, a slave of Guinean origin, a violin virtuoso, who crossed the Atlantic and lived on three continents : Africa, South America and Europe.

A booklet written by Tunde Jegede recalls the story of this character, picking up the traces of his travels and the notes he took during the latest period of his life in Cornwall. From these recollections, the Emidy Project draws a picture of the confrontation between worlds and cultures, slavery and racism, through dance, video and classical as well as traditional music. Throughout the composition, on stage as in the film with Lassina Touré and Ishimwa Muhimanyi, play the character of Emidy.

This inspiring young artist adds a theatrical and narrative dimension to the piece. Playing with lights, shadows, the text delivered by the voice of the omnipresent narrator of the lm, as well as with the overall sonorities of the composition, Ishimwa has created a moving and captivating choreography which at some moments also encompasses the musicians.

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Watch the teaser of The Emidy Project

Dance, film and music illuminate the sensory world of Emidy, emphasizing the emotional aspect of his experience.

The supporting short film, where some scenes of Joseph Emidy lifes are renacted by Ishimwa, is the creation of Anglo-Indian director Sunara Begum. These narrative interludes on the screen develop the main theme and interact with the stage performances.

The musical score draws on oral tradition compositions, ancient manuscripts from Brazil and the Portuguese court, as well as Tunde Jegede’s own work. Songs, strings, kora, vihuela, arpeggione, percussion, transverse ute and bass weave the sound universe of The Emidy Project. The artists gathered around this project envisioned reaching out to young talents from Africa and elsewhere.




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