Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero plays at Obama inauguration
One of the few classical music stars asked to play at US President Barack Obama's historic inauguration on Tuesday, 20 January, was Venezuelan piano virtuoso Gabriela Montero.
Following a gutsy gospel-style reworking of "My Country Tis of Thee" by Aretha Franklin, Montero joined the Chinese-born cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the violinist Itzhak Perlman and African-American clarinetist Anthony McGill to perform "air and Simple Gifts" a new work composed for Obama's inauguration by John Williams.
Williams is recognized as one of the great Hollywood composers and has won Oscars for his work on movies such as Star Wars, Superman and Jurassic Park, but this was a strange piece of music really.
Starting off quite sombrely, it rose in power towards the middle - referencing the hymn "Lord of the Dance" - but never had the bite or originality of William's work on "Jaws" or "E.T.". Perhaps it would have played better in a concert hall.
"I'm very excited to be part of this great day," Montero told the Associated Press in an interview before the event, adding: "It's going to be a great moment for the entire world."
Montero is known to her fans as "La Divina del Piano" for her celebrated technical skills and her talent for improvisation.
A child prodigy who was performing solo on the piano by the age of five, Montero played with the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra when she was eight and went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Her latest album "Baroque" features improvisations on famous Baroque themes including "Handel's Hallelujah Chorus" and Vivaldi's "Winter" and has been nominated for two Grammy Awards - "Best Classical Crossover" and "Best Production".
For more about Gabriela Montero's album "Baroque" click here:
The video clip below shows Gabriela playing a piece called "Joropo" by Venezuelan composer Moises Moleiro at the Teresa Carreño theatre in Caracas on 14 November 2003.