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.”


Winners of prestigious photography award announced at Riyadh forum

Colors of Arabia held an event to honor artists in Riyadh. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 14 December 2018
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Winners of prestigious photography award announced at Riyadh forum

  • Colors of Arabia forum held under the patronage of SCTH President Prince Sultan bin Salman

RIYADH; The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) has announced the winners of the Prince Sultan Bin Salman Photography Award in four categories.
Winners of the prestigious award, which was launched to recognize budding talent and efforts to highlight the Kingdom’s heritage, received SR300,000 each and shields at a ceremony held at the Colors of Arabia forum under the patronage of Prince Sultan bin Salman, SCTH president.
The forum, which is being held at Riyadh’s International Convention and Exhibition Center, spans 15,000 square meters and is expected to have attracted 30,000 visitors by the time it ends on Sunday.
The award for the “pioneers” category, which recognizes the work of Saudis who have successfully contributed to the development of local artists, was won by a photographer in Hafr Al-Batin who began capturing day-to-day life in the Eastern Province city at only 12 years of age. The work of Jarallah Al-Hamad is now used in government brochures.
The award in the “literature and publications” category, which was open to contenders of any nationality both within and outside the Kingdom, recognizes photographers who have captured shots for publications and the film industry. Amin Al-Qusayran, a photographer and graphic designer from Madinah who began pursuing his passion 15 years ago, had previously won two awards in recognition of his work. Al-Qusayran is also author of a pictorial book shedding light on the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
The “civilized heritage” category, meanwhile, was open to photographers from around the globe seeking to preserve world heritage through the power of image.
The award for this category was jointly won by two photographers of Arab descent. Mohamed Bouhsen, from Bahrain, had left university to document national heritage in his country and the Arabian Peninsula at large. He won the award alongside Jalal Al-Masri, an Egyptian photographer who has taken part in 133 local, Arab and international exhibitions.
The STCH also announced the winners of the photo and short film awards in seven categories.
Mazen Flamban, who won the award in the “cultural heritage” category, expressed his surprise and joy at having had his work recognized.
“My ambition is to revive Hijazi heritage through my lens,” Flamban told Arab News. “This was the first year I joined the competition. My photo depicts an old woman who lives alone as she reminisces over old photos.”