Every day at noon, Nobel Peace Prize winning humanitarian doctor Albert Schweitzer would play Bach cantatas on the organ at his home in Lambarene, in what is now Gabon, west Africa. A visitor to the community of Lambarene was likely to hear the drums and traditional polyphonic chants of the townspeople mingle with the organ music, creating surprising synergies and unexpected counterpoints.

Schweitzer, an accomplished professional musician before he turned to medicine and humanitarian work, used to take breaks from his work at Lambarene to give European concert tours that would fund the next stage of his African work.

Mariella Berthéas,inspired by the cultural fusion of Lambarene, collected classically trained European musicians, 10 ensembles from Gabon, and several Argentinean musicians, who worked together in the studio many months to create the album. The result was Lambarena: Bach to Africa, the musical inspiration for Val Caniparoli’s ballet of the same name.

Take a listen:

You can see Val Caniparoli’s acclaimed ballet set to the music of Lambarena at Oregon Ballet Theatre’s spring program, Chromatic Quartet.

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