YouTube Piano Recital by Rebeca Omordia on October 31st 2020 Programme Notes Arthur Bliss  (1891 – 1975)                                                                                                     Suite for Piano (1925) Though not well-known, this four-movement composition has nevertheless been described as “a major work in English piano music”.  Bliss never let his soloists off lightly and the suite is no exception, abounding in technical virtuosity from start to finish. Dissonances and rhythmical tension are characteristic of the whole piece, in parts of which the influences of Stravinsky and even Hindemith may be discerned. I.    Overture   This movement has a contrapuntal, orchestral character with the lyrical being a major characteristic, initially at least. II.   Polonaise  The style of music has a much more post-war feel, with rhythmic displacements interrupting the onward flow. III.  Elegy   Profound and moving, this is the heart of the work, perhaps the most moving music of Bliss’s output up to this time.  Sub-titled “F.K.B. Thiepval 1916” it is written in memory of Bliss’s younger brother Kennard who was killed in the Great War.  Although the composition of Morning Heroes in 1930 is said to be the time when ghosts were laid to rest in respect of Kennard’s death, here (five years earlier) is a poignant outpouring of grief expressed in the medium of the piano. IV.  Variations  This final movement brings us back to the present-day of the 1920s, beginning with a metrically ambiguous theme and proceeding with dissonances and cross-rhythms.  The variations are not numbered and are played virtually without break, though the penultimate one will be recognised as the “calm before the storm” bringing some short-lived serenity before the soloist embarks on the aggressive and percussive final stretch. John Ireland (1879 – 1962)                                                                                                                                    Sarnia I.     Le Catioroc II.    In a May Morning III.   Song of the Springtides Ireland's music belongs to the school of 'English Impressionism'.  He was strongly influenced in this by the music of Debussy, Ravel and the early works of Stravinsky and Bartók.  Ireland was also influenced by the Welsh writer Arthur Machen, author of supernatural, fantasy and horror fiction.  Sarnia, the Roman name for Guernsey, contains three pieces written by Ireland on his visits to the Channel Islands.  Le Catioroc and In a May Morning are atmospheric and tranquil, written in 1940, while the colourful and expressive Song of the Springtides was written earlier on Jersey. Maurice Ravel (1875 – 1937)                                                                                                      Gaspard de la Nuit  III. Scarbo In 1842 Aloysium Bertrand published Gaspard de la Nuit, a book of dark poetry dealing with the language of horror.  In 1908, inspired by Bertrand’s poems, Ravel chose three of the poems and set them to musical imagery, producing compositions for piano highly programmatic and nightmarish in nature.  The third movement, Scarbo, reveals the terror induced by a menacing gremlin. Arthur Bliss  (1891 – 1975)                                                                                              The Rout Trot (1927) The Trot (alongside the One-Step, the Charleston and the Fox-Trot) was a popular dance of the 1920s.  In 1927 Bliss took a theme from his earlier (1920) work Rout, which was one of several pre-Colour Symphony  scores that caused him to be labelled an avant-gardiste, and published The Rout Trot for piano solo.  This work, at just under 3 minutes in length, inevitably leaves the audience wanting more!y. Encores by African composers African classical music, known as African Art Music, emerged in the 20th century in West Africa, Nigeria and Ghana,  and its founding father is Nigerian composer Fela Sowande (1905-1987).  It is the richly diverse genre of music which forms a bridge between Western classical music and traditional African music.  When writing classical music, composers tend to use tunes from their own tribes, along with characteristic rhythms and melodies. Ayo Bankole (1935-1976) – was probably the most known and also the most prolific of the Nigerian classical musicians, but unfortunately his early death cut his career short (he and his wife were tragically murdered in 1976).  Bankole wrote extensively for the piano, including a piano sonata The Passion (1960), based on the Crucifixion of Christ. Fred Onovwerosuoke (born 1967), generally known as FredO because of his complex surname, was born in Ghana to Nigerian parents.  He studied in both countries and is now based in St Louis in the USA where he is director of St Louis African Chorus, a foundation that promotes the music of Africa, and director of the African and Afro-American Music Festival in St Louis.  He became known when his chant Bolingo was featured as a soundtrack in Robert de Niro's feature film The Good Shepherd.  Fred Onovwerosuoke travelled all over Africa gathering musical material and produced his piano studies, 24 Studies in African Rhythms; each study features a dance or song from a particular African country. ____________________________________________ Rebeca Omordia London-based award-winning Nigerian-Romanian pianist Rebeca Omordia was born in Romania to a Romanian mother and a Nigerian father.  Having begun to establish a profile in her native country, she moved to the UK to study at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and later at Trinity College of Music in London.  She holds a Doctor in Music degree from the National University of Music, Romania, and in 2016 was awarded the Honorary Membership Award from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire for her services to music. Recently featured on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and as Artist of the Month in the Classical Music magazine, Rebeca Omordia has worked with an array of international musicians, including a three-year partnership with world-renowned British cellist Julian Lloyd Webber; they toured the UK, performing in venues such as the Wigmore Hall and King’s Place in London, at Highgrove (residence of The Prince of Wales) and they made live broadcasts for BBC Radio 3.  Further musical partnerships have included performances and recordings for Meridian Records with South African double-bass virtuoso Leon Bosch, a recording for English Music Records with cellist Joseph Spooner and collaborations with cellists Raphael Wallfisch, Jiaxin Lloyd Webber and Chineke! Chamber Ensemble.  Rebeca’s CD with British pianist Mark Bebbington, “The Piano Music of Ralph Vaughan Williams” reached No. 3 in the UK’s Specialist Classical Music Chart.  Rebeca’s arrangement for cello and harp of “Seal Lullaby” by Grammy-winning American composer Eric Whitacre has been released on Deutsche Grammophon. In recent seasons Rebeca has toured Nigeria and the USA as a recitalist and has performed as a soloist with MUSON (Musical Society of Nigeria) Symphony Orchestra and with the Romanian National Symphony Orchestra.  She was described by the Guardian, Nigeria as “the pianist who cast a spell on Lagos”. In 2018 Rebeca released her CD “Ekele”, featuring piano music by African composers, which was enthusiastically reviewed in the UK print and broadcast media.  In 2019 she launched the world’s first ever African Concert Series in London, a series of monthly concerts featuring music by African composers. Rebeca was a jury member in the 13th HRH Princess Lalia Meryem International Piano Competition in Rabat, Morocco. An Arthur Bliss Society Event                                                                                Co-sponsored by the Arthur Bliss Society and the John Ireland Society