Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The 238th good thing about Lagos: once in a while, some great musical performances

When we lived in Houston, I was enjoyed participating in the musical culture of the city and would frequently attend concerts, as well as performing with the Houston Symphony Chorus.  That is one of the things I miss most about my life in Houston.  But sometimes there are opportunities here to attend performances that compare to the best of what I've heard in the States. 

The Musical Centre of Nigeria (the Muson Centre) is usually the venue for artists that are sponsored by some business or embassy and the concerts are usually free or at very low cost -- less than $13.  They do need to improve their PR, because the concerts are really poorly publicized and, therefore, usually poorly attended.  Recently I went to a concert there which had been advertised as a string quartet from South Africa.  I went, expecting classical music.  But I was equally pleased to hear a really great jazz quartet:  piano, violin, percussion and a vocalist.  Singing was Melanie Scholtz with the Buskaid Soweto String Project.  They were really wonderful!  I've included some clips so you can hear a bit.

Melanie has a smoky, velvety voice and each instrument did some killer improvisations.

They played some original music and also some classics, like "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess.

Tonight was a thrilling performance by the 24 year old Czech pianist Lukas Vondracek.  He was one of the most talented pianists I have ever heard perform live.  He played one of the pieces which he had performed last year for the Van Cliburn Competition, where he received a Jury Discretionary Award.  He recently won the Hilton Head International Piano Competition in the US, and will perform a concert in Carnegie Hall next month as part of his award.  It was such a shame that his appearance here was so poorly publicized.  When the concert started there were only a handful of people there.  More trickled in during the performance, but there were still less than 50 by the time he finished.  And it was a free performance -- I'm sure that won't be the case in Carnegie Hall next month!  I felt badly that he had such a small audience, but it was kind of nice that it was so intimate. 

You can listen to a good recording of some of the Smetana Czech Dances that he played by following the link to the Van Cliburn Competition above.  Below is a bit of the Rachmaninoff he played.

He was joined by "his partner," a Taiwanese pianist who is also studying at the New England Conservatory of Music.  Yu-Chien Shih played a Chopin piece and also joined him playing some of the Dvorak Slavonic Dances for 4 hands. 

I left the concert with my musical soul purring with contentment.


Jojo said...

Wow! Great performances!

yankeenaijababe said...

love her voice, wow! Very relaxing.

Lindsay, Steve, Spencer and Austin said...

that is pretty awesome! I'm glad you were able to go and appreciate such amazing musicians. Thanks for posting some video!