Shawn Okpebholo’s Heritage, in the Edition Peters Concert Band Series, evokes moods, events and sounds (including West African drumming and indigenous melodies) from an ethnomusicological research visit the composer undertook to Nigeria. One of the primary musical themes of the work is an adaptation of a song that comes from the Esan people, a small ethnic group in the southern part of Nigeria and the tribe to which the composer has deep historical and family ties.
The Esan language is poetic in nature and, at various moments in the work, the musicians chant the text from an Esan song: Ekine leleyea do obhimen la doeki nalo (My investment in you is paid off. Because of your hard work, your future is bright).
Heritage is a revised version of a work previously entitled This is Africa, which was commissioned by Professor Marcellus Brown and the Boise State University Symphonic Winds for the 2011 National CBDNA Convention and is dedicated to the memory of Dr Harry Begian.