Canadian wins 18th Chopin international piano competition

Bruce Xiaoyu Liu of Canada reacts after he was announced the winner of the 18th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw on Oct. 21, 2021. (Maciej Jazwiecki/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS)
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Bruce Xiaoyu Liu of Canada reacts after he was announced the winner of the 18th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw on Oct. 21, 2021. (Maciej Jazwiecki/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS)
Bruce Xiaoyu Liu of Canada reacts after he was announced the winner of the 18th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw on Oct. 21, 2021. (Maciej Jazwiecki/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS)
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Bruce Xiaoyu Liu of Canada reacts after he was announced the winner of the 18th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw on Oct. 21, 2021. (Maciej Jazwiecki/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS)
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Updated 21 October 2021

Canadian wins 18th Chopin international piano competition

Canadian wins 18th Chopin international piano competition
  • Japan’s Kyohei Sorita came joint-second with Italian-Slovenian Alexander Gadjiev. Spain’s Martin Garcia Garcia came third

WARSAW, Poland: Canadian pianist Bruce Xiaoyu Liu was awarded first prize in the Chopin piano competition in Warsaw on Thursday, clinching one of the world’s most prestigious music awards.
“Being able to play Chopin in Warsaw is one of the best things you can imagine,” 24-year-old Liu said as the jury announced their decision at the Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall.

The first prize in the 18th Frederic Chopin international piano competition comes with a 40,000-euro ($45,000) award.

Japan’s Kyohei Sorita, 27, came joint-second with 26-year-old Italian-Slovenian Alexander Gadjiev.
Spain’s Martin Garcia Garcia, 24, came third.

The winner will receive a gold medal and the financial prize funded by the office of Poland’s president, as well as prestigious recording and concert contracts.
The second prize is worth 30,000 euros ($35,000,) third prize is 20,000 euros ($23,000,) and the fourth is 15,000 euros ($17,000.) There are also prizes for the fifth, sixth and seventh place as well as other awards for the finalists, funded by Poland’s government, music institutions and by private donors.
Held every five years since 1927, the Chopin competition would normally have been held last year, but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic — a first since World War II.
“It was challenging to get all the competitors into Poland,” Artur Szklener, director of the National Institute of Frederic Chopin, which organizes the competition, had told AFP.
But one of the 17 jury members, Argentinian concert pianist Nelson Goerner, said that pandemic-related lockdowns helped raise the standard of this year’s competition.
“The level this year is remarkable,” Goerner told AFP earlier in the competition.
“The pianists have had more time to prepare and I think the pandemic has awakened in all of us a desire to go further, to surpass ourselves,” he said.
“You can hear it in how these young pianists are playing.”

Born in Paris, Liu graduated from Montreal Conservatoire.
He has performed with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and has been on two tours in China.
“The pandemic actually made this kind of meeting for me more special,” Liu said after his victory.
Liu said he had to be “really careful all the time” during the coronavirus crisis, so as to be able to keep up his competition and concert schedule, and as a result had “not met many people” in the past two years.
He also said he hoped the competition would be “just a start” in his musical journey.
“It’s hard to keep the freshness, to continuously find new ideas so I hope this is not the last point,” he told reporters.
He added that he was looking forward “to be finally able to sleep and party.”
This year’s event drew 87 pianists from across the globe, including 22 from China, 16 from Poland and 14 from Japan.
Broadcast live on YouTube and via a bespoke mobile app, the contest attracted record online interest.
Some 70,000 people watched the result streamed online.
Among previous winners are Maurizio Pollini of Italy, Argentina’s Martha Argerich, Garrick Ohlsson from the United States, Poland’s Krystian Zimerman and Artur Blechacz, and Seong-Jin Cho of South Korea.
Chopin, Poland’s best known and beloved classical music composer and pianist, was born in 1810 in Zelazowa Wola near Warsaw to a Polish mother and a French father. He left Poland at 19 to broaden his musical education in Vienna and then in Paris, where he settled, composing, giving concerts and teaching the piano. He died on Oct. 17, 1849, in Paris and is buried at the Pere Lachaise cemetery. His heart is at the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw.
The auditions can be followed live on the Chopin Institute YouTube channel and on Polish state radio.

 


Activists block Amazon warehouses in Europe on Black Friday

Activists block Amazon warehouses in Europe on Black Friday
Updated 27 November 2021

Activists block Amazon warehouses in Europe on Black Friday

Activists block Amazon warehouses in Europe on Black Friday
  • Members of Extinction Rebellion targeted 13 Amazon fulfilment centers in the UK with the aim of disrupting 50% of the company's deliveries on Black Friday
  • They staged similar protests in Germany and the Netherlands

DUBAI: Climate activists blockaded Amazon warehouses in three European countries on Friday.
This was part of a global effort to pressure the ecommerce giant on one of its busiest days of the year to improve working conditions and end business practices that hurt the environment.
Members of Extinction Rebellion targeted 13 Amazon fulfilment centers in the United Kingdom with the aim of disrupting 50 percent of the company’s deliveries on Black Friday, which marks the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season. They staged similar protests in Germany and the Netherlands.
“The action is intended to draw attention to Amazon’s exploitative and environmentally destructive business practices, disregard for workers’ rights in the name of company profits, as well as the wastefulness of Black Friday,” the group said. It vowed to remain at the scene
At least 30 people were arrested at multiple UK locations, with some held on suspicion of aggravated trespass or public nuisance, police forces said.
Extinction Rebellion and dozens of other activist groups in the US and around the world are organizing a day of global protests and strikes on Friday against Amazon to demand the company provide better working conditions, commit to operating sustainably, and pay its fair share of tax.
In the US, labor activists planned a small protest at Amazon’s fulfilment center on Staten Island, New York.
Activists in the UK blocked the entrance to Amazon’s warehouse in Tilbury, just east of London, with an effigy of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos sitting on top of a rocket.
At Amazon’s distribution center in Dunfermline, Scotland, about 20 Extinction Rebellion members strung banners across the entrance road that said “Make Amazon Pay” and locked themselves together, stopping trucks from entering and some from leaving.
Amazon did not directly address the protests in response to a request for comment, but said the company takes its responsibilities “very seriously.”
“That includes our commitment to be net zero carbon by 2040 — 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement — providing excellent pay and benefits in a safe and modern work environment, and supporting the tens of thousands of British small businesses who sell on our store,” the company said.
Extinction Rebellion activists also blocked an Amazon logistics center in the central German town of Bad Hersfeld by erecting a makeshift bamboo scaffold that they used to suspend themselves in the air. Authorities later removed them with the help of a fire department ladder truck, according to video posted on the group’s German Facebook page.
The group staged a similar protest at an Amazon facility at Amsterdam’s Schipol airport.


Egypt revives ancient road connecting Luxor and Karnak

Egypt revives ancient road connecting Luxor and Karnak
Updated 26 November 2021

Egypt revives ancient road connecting Luxor and Karnak

Egypt revives ancient road connecting Luxor and Karnak
  • The procession to reopen the 2.7 km road included a reenactment of the ancient Opet festival
  • Pharaonic chariots and more than 400 young performers dressed in pharaonic costumes paraded along the avenue

LUXOR, Egypt: A restored road connecting two ancient Egyptian temple complexes in Karnak and Luxor was unveiled on Thursday in a lavish ceremony aimed at raising the profile of one of Egypt’s top tourist spots.
The procession to reopen the 2.7 km (1.7 mile) road included a reenactment of the ancient Opet festival, where statues of Theban deities were paraded annually during the New Kingdom era in celebration of fertility and the flooding of the Nile.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi marched along the road at the start of the ceremony. Pharaonic chariots and more than 400 young performers dressed in pharaonic costumes paraded along the avenue.
The 3,400-year-old road linking the ancient centers of Karnak and Luxor, also known as Road of the Rams or the Avenue of the Sphinxes, is lined with hundreds of ram- and human-headed sphinxes, though over the years many have been eroded or destroyed.
The road has undergone several restoration efforts since being discovered in 1949, and the latest began in 2017.
Tourism is a crucial source of jobs and hard currency for Egypt, which has made a concerted effort to lure back the travelers kept away by the coronavirus pandemic.
In April, 22 ancient royal mummies from Luxor and the nearby Valley of the Kings were borne in procession Egyptian mummies paraded from Cairo’s Egyptian Museum to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization.
Egypt’s tourism revenues plunged to about $4 billion in 2020, down from $13 billion in 2019.


Bryan Adams tests positive for COVID in Italy

Bryan Adams tests positive for COVID in Italy
Updated 25 November 2021

Bryan Adams tests positive for COVID in Italy

Bryan Adams tests positive for COVID in Italy
  • The Canadian rock ‘n roller disclosed the positive test in an Instagram post
  • “I’ve tested positive for the second time in a month for COVID,’’ Adams said in the post

MILAN: Bryan Adams tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival at Milan’s Malpensa Airport on Thursday, ahead of the unveiling of the 2022 Pirelli calendar that he photographed.
The Canadian rock ‘n roller disclosed the positive test in an Instagram post that included a photograph of him in a room after being tested and then sitting in an ambulance, being taken for a more reliable PCR test. He was seated normally, wearing a surgical mask.
“Here I am, just arrived in Milano, and I’ve tested positive for the second time in a month for COVID,’’ Adams said in the post. “So it’s off to the hospital for me.” He thanked fans for his support.
Adams, who also enjoys a career as a photographer, has shot the 2022 Pirelli calendar, after initially being engaged to shoot the 2021 version that was canceled due to the pandemic. Adams was expected to appear at in-person press events promoting the calendar Sunday and Monday, but that was now uncertain.
Normally the unveiling of the Pirelli calendar is a gala event attended by those who appear and other VIPS, but this year was already a scaled-back affair due to the ongoing pandemic, with a tight guest list for an evening cocktail.
Adams chose as his subjects for the calendar called “On the road,” other musical talents, including Iggy Pop, Cher, Jennifer Hudson, Saweetie and St. Vincent.


Afghan girl from famous cover portrait is evacuated to Italy

Afghan girl from famous cover portrait is evacuated to Italy
Updated 25 November 2021

Afghan girl from famous cover portrait is evacuated to Italy

Afghan girl from famous cover portrait is evacuated to Italy
  • Italy organized the evacuation of Sharbat Gulla after she asked to be helped to leave the country
  • The Italian government will now help to get her integrated into life in Italy, the statement said

ROME: National Geographic magazine’s famed green-eyed “Afghan Girl” has arrived in Italy as part of the West’s evacuation of Afghans following the Taliban takeover of the country, the Italian government said Thursday.
The office of Premier Mario Draghi said Italy organized the evacuation of Sharbat Gulla after she asked to be helped to leave the country. The Italian government will now help to get her integrated into life in Italy, the statement said.
Gulla gained international fame in 1984 as an Afghan refugee girl, after war photographer Steve McCurry’s photograph of her, with piercing green eyes, was published on the cover of National Geographic. McCurry found her again in 2002.
In 2014, she surfaced in Pakistan but went into hiding when authorities accused her of buying a fake Pakistani identity card and ordered her deported. She was flown to Kabul where the president hosted a reception for her at the presidential palace and handed her keys to a new apartment.
Italy was one of several Western countries that airlifted hundreds of Afghans out of the country following the departure of US forces and the Taliban takeover in August.
In a statement announcing Gulla’s arrival in Rome, Draghi’s office said her photograph had come to “symbolize the vicissitudes and conflict of the chapter in history that Afghanistan and its people were going through at the time.”
It said it had received requests “by those in civil society, and in particular by non-profit organizations working in Afghanistan” backing Gulla’s plea for help to leave the country.
Italy organized her travel to Italy “as part of the wider evacuation program in place for Afghan citizens and the government’s plan for their reception and integration,” the statement said.


Subway sandwich chain co-founder Peter Buck dies at 90

Subway sandwich chain co-founder Peter Buck dies at 90
Updated 24 November 2021

Subway sandwich chain co-founder Peter Buck dies at 90

Subway sandwich chain co-founder Peter Buck dies at 90
  • Buck, a nuclear physicist who was born in Portland, Maine, in 1930, died at a hospital in Danbury
  • At 17, family friend Fred DeLuca had asked Buck how he could make some money to help pay for college, his answer was open a sandwich shop

DANBURY, Connecticut: Peter Buck, whose $1,000 investment in a family friend’s Connecticut sandwich shop in 1965 provided the genesis for what is now the world’s largest restaurant chain — Subway — has died. He was 90.
Buck, a nuclear physicist who was born in Portland, Maine, in 1930, died at a hospital in Danbury, Connecticut, on Nov. 18, Subway said in a statement. The cause of his death was not disclosed.
At 17, family friend Fred DeLuca had asked Buck how he could make some money to help pay for college. Buck’s answer? Open a sandwich shop.
In 1965, he and DeLuca opened “Pete’s Super Submarines” in Bridgeport, with the priciest sandwich selling for 69 cents.
The duo changed the name to “Subway” three years later and decided to turn it into a chain by franchising — a move that would eventually make both of them billionaires. Forbes estimated Buck’s net worth at $1.7 billion. DeLuca died in 2015 at age 67.
Subway says it now has more than 40,000 locations worldwide, topping McDonald’s and Starbucks.
“We didn’t make a profit for 15 years,” Buck told The Wall Street Journal in 2014.
Asked if he ever thought the chain would grow so big, he told the newspaper, “Well, I always thought we’d get bigger and bigger, but I really didn’t have a certain number in mind.”
As a physicist, Buck was hired by General Electric in 1957 at a laboratory in Schenectady, New York, and worked on atomic power plants for US Navy submarines and ships. He later worked for United Nuclear in White Plains, New York, and Nuclear Energy Services in Danbury, where he made his home, according to an obituary prepared by his family.
He also pursued philanthropy, making significant donations to many organizations including the Smithsonian Institution, to which he gave a 23-carat ruby named after his late second wife, Carmen Lucia Buck, in 2004.