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With his graceful stage command and radiating smile, pianist Girma Yifrashewa has received well- deserved praise from those who have had the opportunity to see him in concert across the world.
Last month, lucky classical music lovers got to see Girma perform in Warsaw, Poland. Invited by Asseco Poland, the largest IT firm in the country, Girma played his concert at the company’s annual gala. The event was a great promotional opportunity for the pianist among Polish audiences.
Asseco Poland has carried out several projects and is also working on creating stronger ties between Poland and Ethiopia through cultural exchange, according to a company press release.
The press release also stated that the company was fascinated with Girma’s exceptional performance of Polish composer Frederic Chopin’s Fantaisie-Improptu. “This Ethiopian artist is a great example of combining two different cultures,” it noted.
Among those who were present at the concert were Polish Ambassador to Ethiopia Jacek Jankowski, President of Asseco Poland, Zbigniew Jagiełło, President of PKO Polish Bank, and Andrzej Klesyk, President of PZU Insurance Company.
“Playing Chopin before a Polish audience was an incredible pleasure, but at the same time a tough challenge. The composer is often referred to as ‘the poet of the piano,’ so I wanted to make my performance an unforgettable experience for all the guests,” said Girma Yifrashewa. “I was honoured to be accepted so enthusiastically by listeners who are well-versed with Chopin’s works,” he added. Last year, Girma also played a concert at the Polish Embassy in Ethiopia.
Born in Addis Ababa in 1967, Girma Yifrashewa’s venture into music did not start out with playing the piano, but rather the Kirar. At the age of 16, he was introduced to the piano when at the Yared School of Music in Addis Ababa and continued his studies at the Sofia State Conservatory of Music in Bulgaria.
After losing his scholarship due to the fall of the communist regime in 1989, Girma went to Italy. He returned to Sofia Conservatory in 1991, where he graduated with a Masters in Piano under Professor Atanas Kurtev.
In October 2009, Girma was invited to the “Africa Meets North America” international symposium and festival in at the University of California, Los Angeles. He returned to the United States in the summer of 2013 for concerts with Issue Project Room in Brooklyn and Non-Sequitur in Seattle.
Girma Yifrashewa is currently working on a new album featuring Chopin’s music to be released in Poland.