Danso Abiam, who was trained at a French music conservatory, taught at the University of Ghana from 1979-1984, and while there, he devised a chromatic fingering system for the local atenteben bamboo flute. He was later selected as Director of Ghana’s National Symphony Orchestra.
He founded the 48-piece Pan-African Orchestra (PAO) in 1988 to develop an Afro-centric system of making symphonic music. It uses solely African instruments, which are organized into symphonic-like sections and led by a conductor (i.e Nana Danso). Its creations are presented in an artistic, rather than dance music, context. The orchestra’s repertoire includes Nana’s own compositions and his arrangements of traditional songs,
as well as highlife, Afro-rock and Fela-Kuti’ s Afro-beat, After performing at the 1994 World Music and Dance (WOMAD) festival in Britain, the orchestra recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studio in the west of England. In 1996 the resulting CD entitled ‘Opus One’ went to the top of the international New World Music Charts for six weeks.
In 2001 and in collaboration with the UK-based dance company,Adzido, the PAO toured the UK with the musical play’ YaaAsantewaa – Warrior Queen’ written by Ghanaian Margaret Busby and directed by West Indian Geraldine O’Connor. In 2003 the PAO collaborated with the Nigerian Kora player, Tunde Jegede. Nana Danso’s current project is to establish
an international conservatory of African music.