Tuesday, 13 November 2012

One of our finest passes on

Nation losses musical genius


Papua New Guinea has lost one of its premium musical composers Paul Wiggy Yabo, who was also one of the members of the widely acclaimed contemporary music group, Sanguma.

The late Paul Wiggy Yabo in full stride
Wiggy, as he affectionately known, is internally regarded amongst his peers and musicologists as the musician who gives the breadth and depth to the complexity that defines the style and uniqueness of Sanguma music.

Originally from the Tambunum Village on the Sepik River, Wiggy was raised up in Wau and Bulolo.

After completing some technical training in motor mechanic in Lae, his interest and passion for music saw him entering the newly established National Arts School in 1979 where he studied for a Diploma in music with a special interest in classical music and the trumpet.

At the same time he retained an equally affirmed interest in traditional musical instruments such as Sepik flutes.

He became absorbed in the emerging class of musicians such as the late Tony Subam, Thomas Komboi, Sebastian Maioni, Apa Saun and Buruka Tau to name a few.

Wiggy voraciously mastered classical music with a penetrating understanding of musical sounds and composition. The musical pieces that he has composed could, arguably, elevate him to the rank of some Western classical composers such as Jon Sebastin Bach and Wolfgang Mozart.

“He is the composer of several songs, which make for a dense and complex sequence and rhythm in the repertoire of Sanguma music.

“Sanguma is what it is because of Paul Wiggy Yabo”, said an observer recently.

After completing his studies at the National Arts School, Wiggy recorded and performed with the Sanguma on several national and international tours around the world.

In seeking a more regularly paid job, Wiggy went on to get teaching qualifications from the University of Goroka and taught in several national and provincial high schools around the country and occasionally at the Faculty of Creative Arts at UPNG.

At the same time he also retained a fixed and consummated interest in live performances. He played for several bands including the Bluff Inn Soles, Barike, Makoma and the gospel group P2UIF too.

After a short period of illness and unclear diagnoses, Wiggy eventually succumbed to and died of lung cancer, which has advanced to a state of the inevitable.

At the time of his death he was the Acting Curator of Contemporary Art at the PNG National Museum & Art Gallery. Director of the National Museum, Dr. Andrew Moutu said Wiggy was yet to give to this country what he was yet to give.

“We will miss his intellectual company and jokes, but most importantly, we worry about who might provide us an alternative composer and pianist in the vein of Paul Wiggy Yabo.

“It’s the nation’s biggest Arts and Cultural loss,” he added.

The late Wiggy’s families in Bulolo, Lae and Port Moresby have now agreed with the idea to bury the musical great at the 9mile cemetery in Bomana.

A funeral service is scheduled for 10am on Friday the 16th of November at the Sioni Kami Memorial Church at 5 mile.

After the burial, there shall be a reception at the National Museum & Art Gallery where musicians from across the country who have been taught and inspired by the late Wiggy Yabo to be part of this final moments when we farewell this great and prodigious musician and composer.

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