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.”


Film Review: Hip-hop dream in ‘Gully Boy’ is music to the ears

Updated 23 February 2019
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Film Review: Hip-hop dream in ‘Gully Boy’ is music to the ears

CHENNAI: Stories about slums and poverty are not easy to script. They can easily turn into vulgar celebration, as Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” was seen by some, notably legendary Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos.

But director Zoya Akhtar (“Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” and “Luck by Chance”) manages to steer herself clear of slipping into this trap with her latest drama, “Gully Boy,” which emerges from one of the biggest slums in the world, Dharavi, in Mumbai.

There, thousands of people living in a sprawl of huts have a bewildering variety of experiences to narrate. One story is that of Murad’s (Ranveer Singh), whose chance meeting with a rapper, Sher (Siddhant Chaturvedi), opens a magical door.

The film, inspired by real-life rappers Naezy and Divine, focusses on Murad’s ambition to become a rapper, and how he achieves it, despite his driver father’s fears and his uncle’s disdain.

In one scene, the uncle tells Murad that a chauffeur’s son can only hope to be another chauffeur, a servant in other words. A humiliated Murad takes this to heart, but quietly vows to transform his dream into reality.

His sweetheart Safeena (Alia Bhatt), who is studying to be a doctor, pushes him towards a hip-hop life.

Witten by Akhtar along with Reema Kagti, “Gully Boy” is undoubtedly the director’s career best, and Ranveer’s too. In a role that literally overshadows his earlier outings (including “Bajirao Mastani” and “Padmaavat”), he brilliantly conveys the angst and struggle of an underdog, and how his unflattering social status attracts ridicule even among those merely aspiring to be rappers.

Ranveer infuses into Murad a quiet determination that helps him cross frightening social and cultural barriers.

Safeena is also imaginatively fleshed out as a fiery woman who helps Akhtar create his own brand of rap music (some grippingly done by Naezy and Divine).

What is even more exciting is that “Gully Boy” brings rap out of the shadows and in this process the city and the slum, sensitively lensed by Jay Oza, seem to be screaming that miracles are possible even in the face of Mumbai’s painful inequities.