JEDDAH: A concert by internationally renowned pianist Scipione Sangiovanni brought the Italian Business Group IBG artistic season at the Italian Cultural Center to a close on Wednesday evening.
In line with the artistic awakening that Saudi Arabia is experiencing, IBG has brought a series of performances to Jeddah, such as the contemporary dance ballet “Omnia Vincit Amor” (in English, love conquers all) from Italian contemporary dance company Keyhole Dance Project as well as a performance by Rome Symphony Orchestra soloists.
At just 29, Sangiovanni is internationally recognized as one of the most talented Italian pianists of his generation and he has given performances in the main European opera houses.
He has recorded his transcription for piano of “The Four Seasons” by Antonio Vivaldi and a Bach monograph.
He also competed in the prestigious 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Texas.
Sangiovanni, who was performing in Saudi Arabia for the first time, told Arab News: “I found Saudi Arabia quite near to Italy from a cultural and social point of view ... people here love their culture and respect it.”
“I like to play Baroque music, which is a mix of Italian, French and German music, and I like to play my piano transcriptions where I take work written for violin, cello or orchestra and I translate (it for) piano.”
During his 90-minute concert Sangiovanni performed compositions by 19th-century Hungarian composer Franz Liszt and Italian composer Ferruccio Busoni.
Significantly, both composers were also known as pianists.
He closed the concert with “The Four Seasons” — Vivaldi’s best-known work.
Sangiovanni, who has been a performer for 18 years, told Arab News: “I have been performing since I was six years old.”
Razan Mohammed, a 24-year-old psychologist who attended the event, said: “I am a big fan of classical music. I like piano and am dreaming of becoming a good pianist one day. The show today was breathtaking and full of passion, I am thrilled we have these events in Jeddah.”
The IBG event aims to raise the profile of Italian culture in the Kingdom, encouraging people to find out more about the country. One of the Vision 2030 aims is to open up Saudi Arabia to international cultural influences.
It succeeded in its aim for one concertgoer at least. Ghadah Al-Malki, a Saudi teacher, told Arab News: “I usually go to music concerts outside the country, but today I am attending a live piano concert in my country. I am really wowed by the level of performance of the pianist and am so optimistic about the future of tourism in Saudi Arabia.”