The Nigerian-Romanian Accomplished Pianist, Rebeca Omordia

London-based classical pianist who has performed as a solo recitalist and with orchestras in prestigious venues in Europe and the UK, Rebeca Omordia, was born in Romania to a Romanian mother and Nigerian father, call her a Nigerian-Romanian and that will suffice. 

Mr Omordia who hails from Delta State Nigeria, came from Nigeria to train as doctor in Romania. He met her mother and stayed in Bucharest. Growing up in a mixed background was not always easy, but now she can see there's a great advantage in being influenced by two different cultures. She developed an understanding of both worlds as a Nigerian and Romanian, although she was later search for her own identity and the answer was not too hard to find. In 

Nigeria, they say you claim your father's country but she claims both and said that despite the differences of language and culture, both countries have one thing in common: music.

According to her, Romanian classical music has a long, deep-rooted tradition developed by great musicians such as composer George Enescu who was also a distinguished pianist, conductor and teacher (Yehudi Menuhin and Dinu Lipatti were among his pupils), the conductor and composer Constantin Silvestri and Sergiu Celibidache, one of the greatest conductors in history. Romania has produced many great classical interpreters, from the pianists Clara Haskil, Dinu Lipatti and Radu Lupu to the singers Haricleea Darclee (Puccini’s first Tosca) and Angela Gheorghiu.

Nigeria has been named “the heart of African music” because of its role in the development of the Western African popular music. Nigerian classical music known as Nigerian Art Music has achieved international acclaim through composers such as Fela Sowande - considered the father of Nigerian classical music, Akin Euba – pianist and composer, founder and editor of Nigerian Music Review and established a series called Ife Music Editions to publish music composed by Africans, Fred Onovewerosuke - multi award winner and founder of the African and African American Music Festival in St Louis, USA. Joshua Uzoigwe - distinguished pianist and composer , Ayo Bankole and Christian Onyeji among others.

Rebeca’s journey into musicianship started in her home. She used to watch her older sister having piano lessons and  told her parents that she do not want to go to the local school. She was the youngest daughter and always trouble. She said: “I was naughty and my parents kept saying 'you will have to be quiet when you go to school or you will be punished.”

Even though she wasn’t having any lessons at the time, she discovered that she really enjoyed the sound of the keys and gradually she started improvising and making her own tunes. Rebeca started to play the piano as a way to get out of going to the local school. She wants to go play the piano and go to music school. Rebecca parents held off her school entry for a year and she practised enough to get into the music school. It was something that made her sit still and focus!"

Though, her parents had a completely different plan for her. Like every other African father, Rebeca’s dad wanted her to follow in his footsteps and become a doctor, on the other hand, her mother wasn’t sure what she was going to turn into as she was a very energetic child and didn’t have patience for anything. But they discovered that practising was the only thing that kept her busy for hours so they supported what at first seemed to be a hobby. 

Rebeca's raw talent and dedication meant she was always top of the class, Sooner than later, Rebeca’s piano teacher realised she was very talented and sent her to competitions which she won (winning national awards from the age of nine) from the very first year. From then on, she appeared on National Television, playing the piano.

Rebeca Omordia graduated from the National Music University in Bucharest in 2006 where she studied with the renowned Romanian pianist and Professor Dana Borsan. She was awarded full scholarships to study at Birmingham Conservatoire in the UK where she received an Advanced Postgraduate Diploma in Piano Performance in 2009 on the highest course in the University which is also a pre-doctoral degree. Later In 2010, she received the Ofenheim full scholarship at Trinity College of Music in London where she gained a Postgraduate degree in performance with Professor Mikhail Kazakevich.

Delius Prize won in 2009 opened the collaboration with the world renowned British cellist Julian Lloyd Webber. They formed a 3-year partnership performing in renowned venues including at the Wigmore Hall and Kings Place in London, at Highgrove for the Prince’s Trust and several live broadcasts for BBC Radio 3. One of Rebeca Omordia's most precious collaborations was that with the Julian Lloyd Webber, who later said: “I’ve been working with the brilliant young pianist, Rebeca Omordia. She is half Romanian, half Nigerian – and it’s a powerful combination! … Rebeca’s technique knows no bounds but, more importantly, she plays with a depth of insight and understanding which is all too rare today.”

Described by Birmingham Post as 'a pianist willing to take risks', Rebeca Omordia has performed intensively as a soloist and with orchestras in prestigious venues in Europe and in the United States including Birmingham Town Hall, White Hall in Helsinki, Romanian Athaeneum and Radio Hall in Bucharest. In 2015 the John Ireland Trust sponsored her 'John Ireland' Tour of UK and Romania which included highly acclaimed performances of the composer's Piano Sonata, Legend for Piano and Orchestra, several outstanding miniatures and the Cello Sonata.

She is a great advocate of Nigerian classical music. In 2013 she formed a partnership with his Excellency Nigerian High Commissioner in London to promote Nigerian classical music to the UK audience.  She performed piano works by Nigerian composers at the 2013 African and Afro American Music Festival in St Louis, USA and for the African Union’s 50th Anniversary Concert in London.

In 2013 Rebeca arranged Eric Whitacre’s ‘Seal Llulaby’ for cello and harp released on Deutsche Gramophone with Julian Lloyd Webber, cello and Catrin Finch, harp.

In year 2014, Rebeca Omordia Lunchtime concerts performance at St Olave’s Church, Tower Hill, London would be an unforgettable events in the heart of audience.  On this occasion, it was rather more than the content that will remain in the memory, for Rebeca Omordia, of Romanian-Nigerian parentage, showed herself to be a quite remarkably gifted pianist, playing from memory and delivering performances that were outstanding in every regard.

The two items from the First Book of Debussy’s Images at once declared Omordia to be a brilliant and sensitive player, the technical difficulties of the pieces holding no terrors for her, and in which her refined and subtle playing were a constant joy, easeful and quite enchanting.

Her account of John Ireland’s large-scale and very difficult Piano Sonata was simply astonishingly good (interesting to hear it after the Debussy, where its occasional Impressionistic colourations suited the mood established by the French composer). Hearing this account made one realise that the work is very probably Ireland’s masterpiece – and not only in his piano output. Omordia’s command of the Sonata’s structure was complete, and her control of the many myriad changes of richly imaginative mood – from moments of rapt ecstasy in the slow movement, to those of commanding power in the first and last – was completely compelling.

To follow this with Prokofiev’s Third Piano Sonata (the shortest of his nine) was another remarkable achievement, showing much care for detail and just the right amount of strength in a work notable for its barely-concealed energy and deep originality. This equally impressive performance was followed by five short pieces by Fred Onovwerosuoke (an American composer born in Ghana of Nigerian parents) that are attractive, rather epigrammatic and made an immediate effect, a compelling mixture of technical challenges, memorable ideas and clever compositional working, none of which outstayed their welcome. Omordia clearly enjoyed imparting their essence to the audience.

Another season of her career in 2015 include Bradfield Festival with Classical FM saxophonist Amy Dickson, John Ireland’s ‘Legend’ with Ealing Symphony Orchestra,  the African Musical Arts Chamber Music Initiative in St Louis USA and a series of performances of John Ireland’s Piano Sonata in the UK, as well as in her native Romania, as part of a 20th century piano recital. She is a regular performer along Europe and in collaboration with , Răzvan Suma, resident cellist and director of Romanian National Broadcasting Orchestras, world renowned cellist Raphael Wallfisch and

On 14th February 2016, Rebeca performed at Blackheath Halls with the renowned cellist Jiaxin Lloyd Webber, the wife of the renowned British cellist Julian Lloyd Webber. British pianist Mark Bebbington. 5th June 2016, at St George's Church, Mayfair, London: Rebeca and world renowned cellist Raphael Wallfish perform John Ireland's Sonata for cello and piano in G minor at the British Music Society's Annual General Meeting.

According to Rebeca, the good thing about Europe is that people first listen to what you play then they think of where you come from. The concert organisers always introduce her as a Nigerian – Romanian or Romanian – Nigerian pianist which makes it very interesting for the audience because of the mixture of two completely different cultures. For her, it’s really great to claim both countries, and she’s really proud of it.

Rebeca, said: "Nigerian classical music has also achieved international acclaim. The high rhythms are often based on a dance, a ritual or a story and they can be very complex. Composer Fred Onovwerosuoke has been helping me to interpret the music and my aim is to record some of this music." 

Recently, on the 24th June, 2016, Rebeca received HonBC Honorary Membership Award from Birmingham Conservatoire. HonBC is awarded to past students who have worked in the music profession for a number of years and have made significant contributions to various branches of the music industry.

"Julian is an amazing teacher – and there is a connection. Through him I have changed more than 50 per cent in the way I see life and the way I see music. I will always be grateful. I have learned that music is not all about practice but also about rethinking and reimagining. It is a friendship that has grown from a musical partnership. Julian is an icon, but he was open-minded when we work together. When I first started to work with him he would ask 'what do you see?' I now I see and hear different things.” - Rebeca Omordia

Her Video to watch:
Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto no 1 ~by Rebeca Omordia
Paul Constantinescu Joc dobrogean Toccata Rebeca Omordia  
Omordia Rebeca Beethoven excerpt

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