On August 20, 2008 AfriClassical posted: Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guébrou, 85-year-old Ethiopian Classical Pianist and Nun, In Concert
I am happy to announce that I am working with composer Emahoy Tsegue Maryam Guebrou to begin archiving and publishing her complete sheet music, as reported at Tadias magazine.
I hope to connect with others who are interested in this great composer!
Project Email: Etmgproject@gmail.com
Mary Sutton and Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou in Jerusalem, April 2013. (Courtesy photo)
By Tadias Staff
Updated: Tuesday, June 4th, 2013
New York (TADIAS) – Mary Sutton who studies piano performance at Portland State University in Oregon came across the work of the legendary pianist and composer Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru, having listened to volume 21 of the Ethiopiques CD series released in 2006, which featured 16 of the Jerusalem-based Ethiopian nun’s original pieces.
Mary grew up playing piano and is a graduate of the New England Conservatory. She recently told Tadias that she was immediately drawn to Emahoy’s “unique” sounds before realizing that there was no published sheet music of her compositions available for other pianists to play. That was prior to her trip to Israel in April to meet with Emahoy, who gave her the permission to create one.
Returning to Jerusalem this summer to begin the process of readying the manuscripts for publication, Mary shared that she is currently raising funds on Kickstarter for the project. “This Kickstarter is just the beginning of a lifetime of a work which has fallen into my hands,” she noted via the online platform. “And as all of Emahoy’s music serves a charitable purpose, I will not be getting paid.”
Emahoy, who was ordained a nun at the age of 21 at the Guishen Mariam monastery in the Wollo region, moved to Jerusalem in 1984 at the height of the military Derg regime in Ethiopia. However, that was not her first forced exile from her country. According to the Emahoy Music Foundation, she was taken as a prisoner of war by the Italians in 1937 and deported along with her family “to the island of Asinara, north of Sardinia, and later to Mercogliano near Naples.”
Emahoy was born “Yewubdar Gebru” in Addis Abeba on December 12, 1923 to a privileged family; her father was Kentiba Gebru, mayor of Gonder and vice president of Ethiopia’s first parliament under Emperor Haile Selassie. Her mother was Kassaye Yelemtu. “Yewubdar was sent to Switzerland at the age of six along with her sister Senedu Gebru,” the foundation notes on its website. “Both attended a girls’ boarding school where Yewubdar studied the violin and then the piano. She gave her first violin recital at the age of ten. She returned to Ethiopia in 1933 to continue her studies at the Empress Menen Secondary School.”
It was five years ago this summer, on July 12, 2008, that Emahoy, then 85-years-old, gave a rare public presentation at the Jewish Community Center in Washington, D.C., playing live for the first time in 35 years. “Her extraordinary performance was viscerally and emotionally moving,” wrote Makeda Amha, her great niece, in an article published in Tadias Magazine following the concert. “Her astounding ability as a classical pianist and her skill to warmly express “Reverie,” was a pleasure to listen to, as was “Presentiment,” a sweet, poetic Sonata in B-Flat Major.”