From Chopin to Ethiopia, and Partway Back Again

Girma

Girma Yifrashewa The Ethiopian pianist and composer played classical fare and his own works at the Issue Project Room on Saturday night. Foto from NYT

By STEVE SMITH
Published: June 9, 2013

Music Review, The New York Times

“Classical music is music without Africa,” Brian Eno bluntly declared in a 1995 interview published in Wired magazine. “It represents old-fashioned hierarchical structures, ranking, all the levels of control,” he said. An art-rock provocateur, Mr. Eno managed to patronize two cultures in a single blow, fetishizing a free-floating independence in African art that he found lacking in rigid European traditions. Yet if Mr. Eno’s statement oversimplified a complicated global exchange, relatively little evidence indicates that the Western classical tradition has held as much sway in Africa as it has in other parts of the globe, from Venezuela to China. So Girma Yifrashewa, a 45-year-old Ethiopian pianist and composer who performed at the Issue Project Room in Downtown Brooklyn on Saturday night, offers a rare and fascinating example of aesthetic adaptation and convergence.   Read the full story from The New Work Times.