Soglinsog Bernard Woma
The Fredonia campus and community is saddened by the loss of Soglinsog
Bernard Woma, who died on April 27, 2018. Bernard was a distinguished artist, teacher, mentor, friend, and alumnus of SUNY Fredonia. Bernard first came to Fredonia in 1994 as a guest artist, and subsequently served for fifteen years as an Adjunct Instructor in the School of Music. While teaching, performing, and sharing his Ghanaian musical talents and Dagara cultural roots with the student body, faculty, and community, Bernard also completed an earned bachelor’s degree in international stu-dies with minors in history and arts administration from the State University of New York at Fredonia. Later, at Indiana University, Bloomington, he earned
two master’s degrees in african studies and ethnomusicology.Bernard was a true cultural treasure from Ghana who toured the world with such titles as Solo Gyil (xylophone) player and master drummer of The Ghana Dance Company at the National Theatre, and artistic director of the Saakumu Dance Troupe. He also performed with renowned artists such as Maya Angelou, Yo Yo Ma, and Glen Velez, as well as major symphony orchestras around the world. He played for international dignitaries and presidents, such as United States Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II, and Nelson Mandela. In 2009 he was honored as the cultural resource person for President Barack Obama’s family when they visited Ghana, and personally taught Ghanaian music and songs to President Obama’s two daughters.Bernard’s numerous featured performances in the United States included appearances with the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center; South Dakota Symphony Orchestra; Minnesota Orchestra; Albany Symphony Orchestra; and a solo concert at Carnegie Hall. Internationally, he was a featured artist with the Berliner Symphoniker
in Berlin, Germany, and KwaZulu Natal Symphony Orchestra in Durban, South Africa. He held residencies with the Ethos Percussion Group, organized performances for New York’s African Xylophone Festival (AXF), as well as taught and held residencies at numerous universities and colleges in the United States. The performance of his gyil concerto composition, “Gyil Nyog Me Na,” in the spring of 2006 at Zankel Hall in Carnegie Hall, New York was a testimony to the level of his musicianship.Bernard was the Artistic Director of the award winning Saakumu Dance Troupe and the founder and director of the Dagara Music and Arts Center in Medie, Ghana. Until a few
days prior to his passing from a four-year, heroic battle with cancer, Bernard maintained a busy teaching, performance, and touring schedule. Bernard is survived by his sons Bismark Woma of Fredonia, NY, and Julius Woma of Sinclairville, NY (wife Chelsie and grand-daughter Xyla), a daughter Ruby in New Jersey, and in Ghana by his wife Rita Kuuntam and their young children Songdedoh Bernice Woma and Ar-Kum Bernard Jr. Woma.Please join the Fredonia campus, community, Woma family members, and musical friends of Bernard for a memorial service and celebration of his life, beginning at 1PM, Saturday, September 29, 2018, in front of Mason Hall and continuing in Room 1080, Mason Hall, from 1-4 PM.
Photo by Lori Deemer