‘Bridging Samoa and Europe through classical music’ was the mantra behind a concert at the Tiapapata Art Gallery on Monday night.
Organised by the Tiapapata Art Gallery, The National University of Samoa (Music department) and the Samoan National Orchestra, the idea was to expose the talents of local musicians who have been working with Professor Willy Merz from Italy who was in the country for two weeks.
The theme of the concert was well-portrayed through classical performances and singing from the group and was also appropriate as Professor Willy played Ki'eli, a piece composed by Ueta Solomona, and the university choir sang the “Holy Ours Mass” which was composed by Professor Willy.
The idea to host a concert was born when Professor Willy first arrived in Samoa, said Galumalemana Steven Percival, Owner of the Tiapapata Art Gallery.
Professor Willy Merz, a Professor of music at the Conservatoire de la Vallée d’Aoste in Italy hosted training sessions for the local aspiring musicians at N.U.S. and with the Samoa Orchestra and the concert was the result of the trainings they had.
“If music can be described as a ladder for the soul, classical music must be in the higher rungs with its capacity to move that most rhythmic of instruments: the human heart. And that is the essence of western music,” Galumalemana said.
“Professor Willy wasn’t here to conduct a concert, he was here to share his knowledge and to help our local musicians with their talents and to meet the Samoa National Orchestra for the first time.”
And Galumalemana described the concert as a “resounding success.” Professor Willy uttered that it had been a great pleasure working together with the local musicians of Samoa.
“It was very interesting for me,” said classical music maestro, Professor Willy. “I’ve witnessed the talent and potential within the young musicians of Samoa. I came here and saw that there is quite a lot of difference from the situation of where I come from compared to Samoa. “But there is a great passion for music and there are a lot of talented young people here in this country.”
However, Professor Willy believes we need more tutors and teachers to train and teach the aspiring musicians of Samoa.
“Because teaching classical music is very different from other genres of music and it can be very hard. You cannot jump straight into playing an instrument if you don’t know the basics and learn about the instrument first and foremost. “It’s very important to have good teachers and good schools for the musicians so that they are well-trained.
“I am surprised about the potential and passion that these young musicians have for classical music. Unlike literature, classical music can be enjoyed without knowledge of the language it is written in.”
He was also surprised that a lot of people turned up for the concert.
“I didn’t expect that kind of crowd, but it was good to see that a lot of people are interested in this culture.
“But the concert last night was a result of the work and sessions we had with the local musicians. But that’s natural; a concert is always a result of days and years of practicing.”
Professor Willy’s visit to Samoa is the continuation of his visit last year.
During his visit last year, he accompanied the N.U.S. Music Program to Savaii, visiting primary and secondary schools to promote music. Rosa Solomona from the National University of Samoa uttered that working with Professor Willy not only for the concert but during the trainings and sessions really helped her as a musician.
“The sessions with Professor Willy were priceless,” she said. “I mean you would have to pay thousands of dollars in order for Professor Willy to have these sessions. And we are grateful and honoured to have the opportunity to learn from a maestro like him.”
Moreover, she believed that the concert was also a way to promote this type of culture in our country. “We looked at the concert on Monday and saw that a lot of them are the ones who are familiar with this type of music.
But I think the idea is to expose this kind of music to our local community and try and bring them in to know and enjoy this culture, I know it’s hard but that could be done by hosting concerts such as the one we had on Monday night and we will have more people from our local community in the audiences.
Over the years, we’ve seen that more and more people are beginning to appreciate this genre of music.”
Moreover, she agreed that the concert was a result of their sessions with Professor Willy.
“Having said that, I have come to realise that, our local musicians need to step up and be more professional. I mean Professor Willy is not someone who should come here and teach basics even though we definitely need that, but he has opened up our eyes to a lot of things and taught us so many things in the little time he was with us.
And we are very appreciative of the effort he made. His teaching techniques are at a highly professional level and he is from Europe where classical music was born and has flourished over many centuries now. His sessions with us have really helped us appreciate this kind of music even more.”
“We were honoured to be performing music of this quality with Professor Merz as this is usually only performed by trained professional choirs overseas.”