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UM Music Professor Honored as Musical Icon in Ghana

By Edwin B. Smith

University of Mississippi

The Ghana National Symphony Orchestra plays a composition by University of Mississippi music professor George Dor during the televised ‘An Evening with George Worlasi Kwasi Dor’ concert in Ghana. Submitted photo

This summer, George Worlasi Kwasi Dor visited his home country of Ghana as a renowned music professor at the University of Mississippi. He returned as an icon.

The University of Ghana’s School of Performing Arts named Dor an Iconic Composer of Ghanaian Art Music. Additionally, the school declared him a Distinguished Contributor to the Development of Contemporary Ghanaian Music and African Musicology.

The University of Ghana, Salt and Light Ministry and Ghana National Theatre punctuated Dor’s trip home with a three-hour concert in his honor. Choral Music TV of Ghana broadcast the event globally from the National Theatre via Facebook and YouTube, and the video has since racked up more than 4,000 views.

“I am happy that my contributions are acknowledged, and that my compositions continue to be meaningful to audiences in Ghana and beyond,” Dor said. “The event serves as an inspiration for me to do more, and I believe it will motivate others to contribute in like manner.”

The concert itself was a celebration of Dor’s compositions and drew a national audience. Performers included the Ghana Police Band, Ghana National Symphony Orchestra and the Harmonious Chorale. Dor discussed his original music during an in-concert interview with Ghanaian music professor Daniel Avorgbedor.

Other highlights included recorded remarks from Felicia Sandler, of the New England Conservatory; George Mensah Essilfie, a former student of Dor’s turned renowned Ghanaian composer; Distinguished Professor Kofi Agawu, of City Universities of New York and the Hughes-Rogers Emeritus Professor at Princeton University; and written comments from Cosmas Mereku, a Ghanaian composer and educator.

“But more telling was the invaluable gratification I derived from the support my family and hometown, Alavanyo, my former students and choir members, colleague faculty in Ghana and the USA, church music directors and lovers of choral music gave me,” Dor said.

Dor’s research and creative activity widen the scope of culture and humanity, said Nancy Maria Balach, UM chair and professor of music.

“Dr. Dor connects the University of Mississippi globally,” Balach said. “Dr. Dor has engaged in successful recruitment efforts in Africa and established a key partnership initiative between the University of Mississippi and three African universities. We applaud Dr. Dor for this esteemed and well-deserved honor.”

Since 2005, Dor has been the initiator, coordinator and producer of the annual Black History Month Concert that brings together diverse groups of performers and showcases guest artists at Ole Miss. In 2012, the Black History Month Concert was key in the celebration of 50 years of integration at the university, and he composed a commemorative song that included a tribute to James Meredith.

In 2018, the Black History Month Concert featured the Fisk Jubilee Singers with the UM Concert Singers at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, showcasing works by William Grant Still. 

Each semester, Dor leads the Ole Miss African Drum and Dance Ensemble. In 2007, the LOU community celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Ghana’s independence as Oxford Mayor Richard Howorth and the Board of Aldermen declared March 6, 2007 as “Ghana Friendship Day in Oxford.”

Dor was a 2019 Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow/Visiting Professor at the University of Port Harcourt. He was also awarded the UM 2021-22 Diversity Innovator Award.

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