If we are to score musicians before they are featured on Music Estate as our Musician of the Month, then Rebeca Omordia would certainly be a high scorer. Meet our musician of the month for September 2020, the UK-based Nigerian born Romanian Virtuoso Pianist Rebeca Omordia. Enjoy!
Can we meet you ma’am
Nigerian-Romanian pianist REBECA OMORDIA, founder of The African Concert Series London
Why did you choose music as career and can you give a brief of your journey into music?
I started playing the piano at a young age while attending the specialist music school in my hometown. Playing on the stage, in front of people, was very natural to me so my piano teacher sent me to national competitions. I won my first prize when I was seven years old and during the same year I appeared on the Romanian National Television. More competitions followed, more prizes and public performances, interviews on the Radio, which made my parents realise I was actually good at being an artist so they supported what became my full time career later.
Who inspires you?
I find inspiration within myself and from my faith in God.
What is your educational journey in music so far?
I graduated from the National Music University in Bucharest, Romania in 2006 when I was awarded a scholarship to study in England at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire then at Trinity College of Music in London. I received my Doctoral degree from the National Music University in Bucharest.
What genre of music do you play and why?
I was trained as a classical pianist and I’ve always played classical music.
Are African classical composers doing enough in comparison with their counterparts worldwide?
Classical music emerged in Africa in the 20th century and while African composers have only had a century or so to write music, I believe there is an extensive body of repertoire to prove their talent and their contribution to the classical music genre. Classical music is not widespread in Africa yet but I believe in time the African composers will be more valued and their work will be made known worldwide.
Why did you choose classical music and why the piano?
Romania has a very old and established tradition of classical music. My parents initially bought a piano for me and my sister so we could learn an instrument in order to play it in church. As a child, I decided I wanted to become a professional pianist and classical music was the natural path to take.
What is the motivation behind the African Concert Series?
The aim of The African Concert Series London is to make known the music by African classical composers to the Western world. I have been a pioneer of African Art Music for a decade and I believe the African composers deserve to be made known in England and beyond. Promoting African Art Music is also a way to unravel the cultural diversity of the African continent through its music.
As a virtuoso pianist, what are the most important elements of classical piano playing?
Playing the piano is quite a complex process that requires a good technique – in order to be able to express what the composer wants from the music, good listening and great imagination – to be able to create a diverse sound world , and a deep knowledge of the instrument and of the music you are playing. This knowledge goes beyond music and eventually all the knowledge of the world you have acquired will be expressed in your piano playing.
You have performed on several platforms, which would you say is the greatest?
I can name a few great halls in the UK such as the Wigmore Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Southbank Centre, Town Hall Birmingham, etc which have excellent acoustic. From my point of view, what makes a performance truly special is the audience – the way you connect with them while on the stage. I have very fond memories of performing at both Agip Hall and Shell Hall in Lagos with MUSON Symphony Orchestra.
What are your future plans?
I want to continue my work – performing concerts and promoting African Art Music to the Western world. Of course, the pandemic has brought the whole world to a halt but this has also given us the opportunity to reach an even wider audience via the social media platform.
What is your thought about Prof Akin Euba’s African Pianism?
Prof. Akin Euba invented the concept African Pianism with the purpose of revealing the similarities between the piano, as a Western instrument, and the African traditional instruments. He wrote many papers which are very informative and helpful for us to identity the way his piano works and works by other African composers need to be performed. The first instinct of a classically trained pianist is to approach African Art Music from a Western style, especially when it comes to phrasing and the rhythms. Prof. Euba’s work is opening the door to the knowledge of a new genre of music – the African Art Music.
Which can you say has brought you this far; training or talent?
I believe it’s both. Talent helps you share your gift with the world and makes you unique as an individual and as an artist but it is worth nothing without training.
Beside the piano, what are your other musical skills?
I only play the piano.
What will you want to be remembered for?
Ha, tough question – the kind of question addressed to people at the end of their careers… (laughs) I hope I still have time and the chance to create more and to continue to reinvent myself. In this world we come alone and we leave alone and what people remember us for is probably the way we have touched their lives rather than the things we have achieved. I hope I have been (and will be) able to influence and inspire others.
Tell us about Ekele
EKELE is a tribute to my father who left Nigeria after the Biafra war and went to Romania to study Medicine, where he later met my mother and eventually settled. EKELE is bringing Greetings from Africa to the Western world through the piano music of African composers but it also represents my father’s longing for his homeland.
What is your thought about classical music education in Nigeria and Africa
MUSON in Nigeria is the heart of classical music in Africa. They have achieved so much in a climate where classical music is not widespread and I hope they will continue to inspire young people to take on classical music as well as inspire new audiences to attend classical music concerts.
Have you ever had to deal with failure(s)? If yes, how did you overcome it/them?
Everybody experiences failure at one point in their life. In the end, failure or better said overcoming failure is what makes us and shapes us into our better selves. Personally I believe it is the perseverance and the confidence in yourself that help you get up every day and continue the “struggle” – until you make it!
What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Work hard and never give up!
What are your thoughts about our Musician of the Month Rebeca Omordia? Drop your comments below.