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Composer & Pianist Girma Yifrashewa’s Phenomenal Show in Harlem

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Last night in New York the Thanksgiving weekend program at Ginny’s Supper Club in Harlem featured a special Ethiopia-inspired dinner menu prepared by Chef Marcus Samuelsson followed by a live performance by classical Ethiopian pianist and composer Girma Yifrashewa.


Girma’s amazing concert on Sunday evening included his original compositions that evoke “Ethiopian melody making,” as he told the audience, “decorated” with sounds of the classical music tradition in combination with AmbasselBatiAnchihoye and Tizita based on Ethiopian music’s unique tone scale system.

Having picked up the kirar as a young child and later discovering piano at the historic Yared School of Music in Addis Ababa during his teenage years, Girma went on to pursue his music and composition studies in Bulgaria at Sofia State Conservatory of Music.

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Last night’s piano performance at Ginny’s featured classical pieces by Chopin and Debussy for the first session and his own original compositions fusing the Western classical tradition with Ethiopian sounds for the second part of the evening, which included his playful Chewata, the spiritual Sememen and the joyous Elilta.

 

Girma Yifrashewa “offers a rare and fascinating example of aesthetic adaptation and convergence,” the New York Times declared three years ago in its review of Girma’s first NYC concert in 2013 at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn. In an article entitled From Chopin to Ethiopia, and Partway Back Again, The Times added: “Since returning to Ethiopia in 1995, Mr. Yifrashewa has promoted awareness there of the standard classical repertory, while also writing new pieces that apply European techniques to Ethiopian musical and folkloric sources.”