Pianist who reinterprets classics for his instrument wows Jeddah music fans

Maestro Scipione Sangiovanni during his performance in Jeddah. (AN photo)
Updated 11 May 2018
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Pianist who reinterprets classics for his instrument wows Jeddah music fans

  • 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.
  • Scipione Sangiovanni competed in the prestigious 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Texas.

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.”


Mystery Egypt sarcophagus found not to house Alexander the Great’s remains

Mostafa Wazir, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, inspects the site of the newly discovered giant black sarcophagus in Sidi Gaber district of Alexandria, Egypt July 19, 2018 in this handout photo courtesy of the Ministry of Antiquities. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 July 2018
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Mystery Egypt sarcophagus found not to house Alexander the Great’s remains

  • The unmarked tomb in Alexandria did not likely belong to any other notable ruler in the Ptolemaic period (332 BC-30 BC) associated with Alexander the Great, or the subsequent Roman era
  • The location of the remains of Alexander the Great, who died in 323 BC in Babylon, remains a mystery

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt: Egyptian archaeologists on Thursday dashed local hopes that a newly discovered ancient sarcophagus might contain the remains of Alexander the Great, finding instead the mummies of what appeared to be a family of three.
Workmen inadvertently unearthed the approximately 2,000-year-old black granite sealed sarcophagus this month during the construction of an apartment building in the historic Mediterranean port city of Alexandria.
The 30-ton coffin is the largest yet found in Alexandria, prompting a swirl of theories in local and international media that it may be the resting place of the ancient Greek ruler who in 331 BC founded the city that still bears his name.
Egypt’s antiquities ministry had vigorously dismissed the chances of finding Alexander’s remains inside the 30-ton sarcophagus and on Thursday its skepticism was vindicated.
“We found the bones of three people, in what looks like a family burial... Unfortunately the mummies inside were not in the best condition and only the bones remain,” Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told reporters at the site.
Waziri said some of the remains had disintegrated because sewage water from a nearby building had leaked into the sarcophagus through a small crack in one of the sides.
The location of the remains of Alexander the Great, who died in 323 BC in Babylon, remains a mystery.
The sarcophagus in Alexandria is the latest of a series of interesting archaeological finds this year in Egypt that include a 4,400-year-old tomb in Giza and an ancient necropolis in Minya, south of Cairo.
The unmarked tomb in Alexandria did not likely belong to any other notable ruler in the Ptolemaic period (332 BC-30 BC) associated with Alexander the Great, or the subsequent Roman era, Waziri said.
The prospect of opening the long-sealed sarcophagus had stirred fears in Egyptian media that it could unleash a 1,000-year curse.
“We’ve opened it and, thank God, the world has not fallen into darkness, said Waziri.
“I was the first to put my whole head inside the sarcophagus... and here I stand before you ... I am fine.”