Tiapapata Concert: Bridging Samoa and Europe with classical music

By Galumalemana Steven Percival 12 June 2016, 12:00AM

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.

 It is the epitome of western music. “Unlike literature, classical music can be enjoyed without knowledge of the language it is written in,” states visiting maestro Willy Merz, Professor of Music at Conservatoire de la Vallée d’Aoste, in Italy. 

The Tiapapata Art Centre, in collaboration with the National University of Samoa Community Music Program under the Faculty of Education, and the National Orchestra of Samoa of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, will be hosting an evening of classical and sacred music at the Tiapapata Art Gallery. 

Professor Merz is only in Samoa for two weeks and is spending time working with staff and students at the university and the national orchestra. 

The concert will be held in the recently opened art gallery at the Tiapapata Art Centre on Monday 13 June 2016. Professor Merz, who is a composer and music teacher, will be performing along with the Samoan musicians and singers.

Subtitled “Bridging Samoa and Europe with Classical Music,” the concert will feature the musical works of Gluck, Haydn, Solomona, Satie, Merz, Mozart, Vivaldi and a medley of popular Samoan songs interpreted by the National Orchestra string ensemble.  “This is a continuation of Professor Merz’s visit to Samoa last year,” explains Susau Solomona of the University Community Music Program. 

“We are very grateful that he chooses to invest his time and expertise in music education and performance in Samoa as we have learned a lot about music and have greatly benefitted from his visits. We have worked on what he left us and at the Tiapapata Concert we will be performing, among other items, “Holy Ours Mass,” a choral piece composed by Professor Merz.” 

In 2015, Merz accompanied the NUS Music Program to Savaii, visiting primary and secondary schools to promote music. “His sessions with the students fill a great need.

His approach and techniques are at a highly professional level and he is from Europe where classical music was born and has flourished over many centuries now. Merz’s approach to music education, and his interpretations and knowledge of classical music greatly enhance the students’ appreciation of this kind of music,” Solomona added.

“We are privileged to be performing music of this quality with Professor Merz as this is usually only performed by trained professional choirs overseas.

The idea of bridging Samoa and Europe through classical music is also appropriate because in the program, Merz will be playing Ki’eli, a piece composed by Ueta Solomona, and the university choir will be singing “Holy Ours Mass.” 

Beatrice Carey, an Australian volunteer working with the National Orchestra of Samoa, also greatly appreciates the Professor’s visit. “As an expert double bass player, he can show students correct body posture, how to hold the instrument and how to bow,” she explained. “These instructions may seem simple but if you have never played a double bass before, they are essential bits of knowledge.”

Last year Merz looked over the University and MESC music curricula and made recommendations, which are beginning to be implemented.  “We are delighted to be hosting this concert at our new gallery,” stated Wendy Percival of the Tiapapata Art Centre, whose artwork hangs in the gallery along with the work of other artists.

By Galumalemana Steven Percival 12 June 2016, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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