Composer and musicologist, Inspector at the Ministry of Culture and Francophonie and Director of the Center for Research on Arts and Culture (CARC) at the National Institute of Arts and Cultural Action (INSAAC) in Abidjan, born in 1951 in Bécédi-Anon, Master Adépo YAPO, as his disciples affectionately call him, began his musical life as soon as he entered the National Institute of the Arts (INA) in Abidjan in 1968. Having learned the rules of the traditional western music, he has already started making arrangements for the traditional melodies of his culture Akyé, an ethnic group from which he is born. Assona, a title that he has harmonized and orchestrated, has gone from the profane world to the religious music of the Catholic churches, song of joy. In 1971, he directed the INA Variety Orchestra with the first broadcast on a national television. After three years of musical studies in Abidjan, he left for Paris where the musician was enrolled at the Ecole Normale de Musique, Boulevard Malesherbes, for his higher studies. Inscribed in class of writing and guitar, the musician acquired the language and the high technicality of the processing of the musical sounds. Pietro Bianchi, who knew him at the time, rightly compared his guitar playing to that of the Kora masters in an article published in “Escargot Folk” in 1975. Talking about we should mention the great figures of the emerging African music, such as Lamine Conté, Pierre Akendengué, Francis Bebey and Guem, Moroccan percussionist.
The musical career of Master Adepo YAPO had a decisive turning point when he musician first met his elder brothers: Akendengué, Bebey, Conté, Mbaeba, Ewandji (brilliant Cameroonian guitarist) and, once more, when he met the masters of musicology (scientific milieu) such as Gilbert Rouget, Claudie Marcel-Dubois, Hugo Zemp, Simha Arom, Jacques Chailley, John Cage, Pierre Boulez, Gyorgy Ligeti, Kwabena Nketia etc. With Simha Arom, his teacher who trained him in the mathematical aspect of African music, Adepo YAPO traveled to Europe as a percussionist and lecturer. This experience enabled him, today, to establish his authority, especially in the academic environment where his works (traditional African music) are better known. It is for this reason that since 1997, UNESCO has decided to publish, in its music collection, those which are the most significant. This publication project remains current. While waiting for the recording of the works concerned, we now find recordings of concerts on CD or DAT tape. As a musician, Adepo Yapo made the arrangement of many albums by his friend Manféï Obin, with whom he created the group BLOA NAN; the musical group that traveled through France and introduced the African tale (text episodes – songs ) in Europe.
In terms of the traditional African music, Adepo YAPO has composed several pieces for classical guitar including l’Orphelin, l’Entêtement, Fête des ignames etc. The pieces for chamber music are the most representative today with titles such as Moro Naba, Timbuktu, Pygmy Complaint, Savannah Song, Caribbean Dance and so on. When the musician was the Artistic Director of the ARC MUSICAL Group (1992) and composer of this orchestra, he gained his nobility. In this context, it is important to note that in 1989, at the celebration of the Bicentennial of the French Revolution, Adepo YAPO was awarded the prize for the Artistic Talent Award organized by the French Ministry of Cooperation, with a composition entitled ” Free man “. In 1992, during the peace concert organized by the government of Côte d’Ivoire, his work, Hymne à la paix, composed for harmonic orchestra, was brilliantly interpreted by the national gendarmerie orchestra.
Regarding his involvement in the scientific community, already in 1985 Adepo YAPO belonged to the Scholarly association known as the French Society of Ethnomusicology. In 1989, he joined the International Council of Music (ICM) and in 1991 the International Committee of Popular Arts.
In 1997, he was elected to the Executive Committee of the International Council of the Olympic Arts, an international organization which awarded him the title of Senator for his contribution to the activities of the world of the arts. This contribution could be summarized by the involvement of Master Adepo YAPO in the organization of several symposia, conferences and round tables around the world as well as his participation in these various meetings. His expertise has often been sought for the development of scientific and cultural projects among which we can cite:
- The Atlantic University of Abidjan,
- The Ivorian Agency for Francophone Cooperation (IAFC) in Abidjan,
- The International Exhibition of Cultural Industries of Abidjan (SICA).
Nowadays Master Adépo YAPO is a member of the scientific committee of several cultural and academic institutions, including:
- International Center of African Music and Dance, (ICAMD) – University of Ghana, Legon- Accra,
- Pan-African Society of Music Art Education (PASMAE) – Pretoria, South Africa,
- Panafrican Festival of Music, (FESPAM) – Brazzaville, R Congo,
- World Music Forum in Los Angeles (United States).
The recognition of Master Adepo YAPO`s expert experience in artistic and cultural spheres, is reinforced numerous requests – in particular the invitation addressed to him by Mr Koïchiro MATSUURA, Managing Director of UNESCO, to chair one of the seminars of the 1st World Conference on Arts Education, held from 06 to 09 March 2006 in Lisbon, Portugal.
ARC MUSICAL: African chamber music orchestra.
In 1992 Master Adepo YAPO, musicologist and associate professor of music, established a workshop for musical research and creations (ARC MUSICAL). The members of the group, initially students of Master Adepo YAPO, are now all certified teachers of music and researchers. Aesthetics, developed by ARC MUSICAL, is based on original compositions from the research on the most representative African musical traditions and on the arrangements of works by the great figures of African heritage.
The repertoire relies on the sounds of materials belonging mostly to the African instruments together with various combinations.
The seven main members of the group have been able to share the symbolic and aesthetic values of Africa in numerous performances, both inside and outside the continent. Among the others, it could be mentioned the performances in Côte d’Ivoire (including MASA OFF 95 as well as the Goethe Institute in Abidjan), at Panafest in Accra in Ghana, at Fespam in 1996 in Brazzaville, Congo but also at the Festival Limousin 2001 in France, at Africa’95 in Liverpool,UK and at <<Memphis in May>>, as well as at the Unicef concert in New York in the USA.
The group uses instruments such as dodo, ahosi (African bass); Mbira, seprewa and classical guitar. His repertoire is composed, among others, of lyrical singing of ditties and of chamber music.