The full range of African music has been incorporated into the neo-classical music of the Pan-African Orchestra. Under the leadership of ethnomusicologist and composer Nana Danso Abiam, the 30-piece ensemble has focused on what they call "re-compositions", using traditional themes as the basis for their orchestral interpretations. According to Ghana-based magazine West Africa, "This is a nationalist project which seeks to represent the wealth of African culture in music."
The seeds that resulted in the Pan-African Orchestra were planted while Abiam was a student at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana. Inspired by the nationalistic movement that arose during the rule of Ghana's first post-independence president Kwame Nkrumah. A government-funded paper in which Abiam called for the establishment of a national orchestra led to an invitation to take control of the Ghanaian National Symphony Orchestra. Although he accepted the invitation, Abiam became frustrated by the ensemble's "colonial mentality" and "resistance to moving from European instruments and composers." Gathering musicians who were well-versed in the traditional instruments of Africa, Abiam formed the Pan-African Orchestra in 1988.