London-based award-winning pianist Rebeca Omordia will perform at a concert in Cayman on Thursday evening, hosted by the Cayman Arts Festival.
Festival organizers hold piano concerts twice a year and Ms. Omordia’s piano recital at the Cayman Islands Baptist Church, on Pedro Castle Road, is the opening performance.
Ms. Omordia is perhaps best known as a duet partner to cellist Julian Lloyd Webber.
Her father, a member of the Igbo ethnic group, moved from his home in Nigeria’s Delta State to Romania in the 1980s to study medicine, where he met and married her Romanian mother.
“She was introduced to the piano at an early age, with the idea that she might be able to play the instrument in church. A teacher spotted her talent and began to enter her in competitions, which led to appearances on Romanian national television. Studying piano with Dana Borsan, Ms. Omordia graduated from the National Music University in Bucharest in 2006 when she was awarded full scholarships to study at Birmingham Conservatoire and later at Trinity College of Music in London,” Cayman Arts Festival organizers stated in a press release.
Upon moving to England, she earned advanced degrees at the Birmingham Conservatoire (2009) and Trinity College, London (2010). For the latter program, she received the Ofenheim Scholarship. During this period, she caught the attention of Mr. Lloyd Webber, with whom she toured for two years beginning in 2009; he has remained a strong supporter of her career.
Ms. Omordia made solo appearances at Birmingham’s Town Hall, as well as at several top Romanian venues. In 2015, she was engaged by the John Ireland Trust for a tour of Britain that featured Ireland’s compositions.
She made her recording debut in 2017 in a duo recording with pianist Mark Bebbington in an album of two-piano music by Ralph Vaughan Williams. That year also saw her tour with cellist Razvan Suma.
Ms. Omordia has also championed the little-explored field of classical music by Nigerian composers, forming a partnership with the Nigerian High Commissioner in London to promote the effort. Her CD “EKELE: Piano Works by African Composers,” released in March 2018 on the Heritage label, features music by three of Nigeria’s most prolific composers and is designed to bring this music to a wider audience.
She has performed works such as the Piano Sonata No. 2 of Ayo Bankole that incorporates influences from traditional Nigerian music.
Ms. Omordia has also traveled to the U.S. to attend and perform at the African and Afro-American Music Festival in St. Louis, where she commissioned a work, “5 Kaleidoscopes,” from Nigerian-American composer Fred Onovwerosuoke.
Described by The Guardian newspaper in Nigeria as “the virtuoso pianist who cast [a] spell on Lagos,” Ms. Omordia has performed as a soloist with MUSON Symphony Orchestra in Nigeria and the Romanian National Radio Orchestra.
She is also a talented arranger. Her arrangement of “The Seal Lullaby” by Grammy-winning composer Eric Whitacre, for cello and harp, was released on Deutsche Gramophone.
In 2016, she received an Honorary Membership Award from Birmingham Conservatoire. She is currently writing her Ph.D. thesis.
For the Cayman audience, she will perform pieces by Beethoven, Ayo Bankole, Fred Onovwerosuoke, John Ireland and Ravel.
“We are looking forward to hearing this highly gifted artist perform a specially crafted program that takes us on a journey of music that spans at least three continents. In addition to the mainstream composers like Beethoven and Ravel, Ms. Omordia’s program reflects her insights into some rarely performed repertoire, including works by African composers, a recent recording of which has received rave reviews internationally,” said Glen Inanga, co-founder and artistic director of the Cayman Arts Festival, in the press release.
Also playing at Thursday’s concert will be the 2018 winner of the Butterfield Young Musician of the Year, 16-year-old pianist Johnathon Bedasse, who attends Cayman Prep and High School.
Tickets are available at www.caymanartsfestival.com.