Pan-African Youth Orchestra

In 2015, Riverfolk founders Mark and Carol Palms traveled to Acra, Ghana to initiate a collaboration between US educators and the Pan-African Youth Orchestra. They taught the group Western music theory, arranged and composed music for an upcoming US tour of the Pan African Youth Orchestra, and raised funds to bring over a sound system, video camera, along with clothing and energy saving products.


The Pan-African Youth Orchestra (PAYO) was established in 1995 in collaboration with the National Theatre of Ghana as a youth wing of the Pan-African Orchestra (PAO) The instruments of the orchestra are selected from diverse regions of the continent. They comprise atenteben flutes (seven holed vertical bamboo flutes), gyle xylophones (anhemitonic pentatonic xylophones), gonje fiddles, a set of atsimevu drums comprising one master drum and four supporting drums; a set of fontomfrom drums comprising two master drums and five supporting drums.


The orchestra’s repertoire includes compositions by the renowned composer and music educator, Nana Danso Abiam, whose works are a clear illustration of qualitative developments taking place within the past forty years in African music composition history. His conception and realization of the Pan-African Orchestra in 1988, combining for the first time, traditional instruments from differing ethnic societies on the continent, is still a novelty far ahead of its time.

The following videos are concerts and educational videos that were produced from the Pan-African Youth Orchestra's collaboration with Riverfolk Music and Arts. The video below is PAYO's full livestream Blacksmith Shop Concert from February 2021.

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