Montgomery Symphony Orchestra presents ‘Beethoven in Kenya’

The Montgomery Symphony Orchestra is working on a new performance.
Published: Nov. 18, 2023 at 1:03 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - An original orchestral piece, composed by an international student at Alabama State University, will debut to the public on Monday.

Shaka Marko, an international student from Kenya, has written an original symphony piece while studying at ASU, titled, Beethoven in Kenya. Marko says the composition aims to mix music from Beethoven’s symphonies together with traditional music from communities all over Kenya.

“Just trying to mix these two musical worlds that have been influential in my musical upbringing,” he added.

Marko says the key difference is the rhythm.

“The core element of music in Kenyan and African music in general is the rhythm,” said Marko. “We don’t usually focus too much on the harmony and the melodies and tonalities and all that stuff. People just like a groovy beat back home in Africa. And I figured, how can we adapt that into symphonic, classical style music from Ludwig Van Beethoven? And basically, it took a lot of figuring out, but eventually... I was able to conjure up an ideal mix up of these two worlds.”

Marko himself will be playing in the orchestra during the performance of his composition.

Jamie Reeves of the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra will be conducting the performance.

Beethoven in Kenya will premiere at Davis Theater, Monday, Nov. 20, at 7:30 p.m. Purchase tickets on the symphony’s website at

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