American classical pianist performs in Ibadan, says people misunderstand classical music

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By Ibukun Emiola

Visiting American classical pianist Pauline Yang expressed hope that more people would explore the beauty of classical music as the foundation of most world music.

Yang said this in Ibadan on Sunday at a concert which also featured US Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Beth Leonard on flute.

According to her, the brand of classical music is rather misinterpreted as boring by some people.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event, organized by the US Embassy in Nigeria, is supported by the Arts Envoy Program of the US Department of State.

Yang said, “I think there are a lot of misunderstandings about classical music unfortunately.

“For example, some people think classical music can be boring, some people think classical music in the concert arts is considered a dead art form, I would like to argue otherwise.

“I believe classical music is the foundation of a lot of music, which most people around the world love, but they don’t realize that a lot of it comes from the western classical music foundation.

“And there’s so much beauty to explore and there’s an endless, endless repertoire, which has been written by so many wonderful composers over the centuries and we’re so lucky to have their works.”

She also expressed hope that more people in different parts of the world, including Nigeria, would be interested in learning more about classical music and maybe even start learning an instrument with a classical repertoire.

According to her, Nigeria has done an amazing job in the arts, especially among young people.

“I see and hear a lot of enthusiasm and energy among young people in the arts and culture scenes.

“I feel like young Nigerians are also very excited and enthusiastic about showcasing their culture abroad and so I think that would be really important moving forward.

“It’s because there’s a lot of great work in the arts and culture scenes that I’ve seen and heard for myself during my short time here so far.

“So I certainly hope everyone will continue to share them with the world, Yang said.

Furthermore, Jennifer Foltz, Assistant Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate in Lagos, said the concert aims to share the best of American arts with the Nigerian public.

According to Foltz, a variety of different exchange programs are in place at the US Mission in Nigeria,

“We take Nigerians to the United States for professional, cultural and educational exchanges, we also bring Americans to Nigeria.

“And among those we bring there are artists, sometimes visual artists, sometimes we bring sports people and this time we decided to bring a classical pianist so that she can engage with different audiences.

“We had these gigs in Abuja, Lagos and Ibadan now. She also engages with young people through master classes and she does a lot of radio interviews to talk about her experience here in Nigeria,” Foltz said.

She also said that the arts were important, adding that it was important to share them as it was important for cross-cultural understanding.

“And so bringing an American classical pianist here allows her to engage with Nigerians and musicians and talk about her life and experience.

“She inspires and motivates the musicians she meets to pursue a career in music as well,” Foltz said.

At the end of the concert, the President of the Initiative for the Development of Information, Arts and Culture (IACD), Dr. Kolade Mosuro, presented the two artists with talking drums in appreciation for their performance.

NAN reports that some of the repertoires performed at the event include FAURÉ Sicilienne de Pelléas et Mélisande for flute and piano, Bach “Sheep May Safely Graze” Cantata transcribed by Egon Petri, Scarlatti Sonata in A Major and D Major among others. (NOPE)

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