Saturday, October 20, 2007

Glen Inanga, Nigerian Pianist in Micallef-Inanga Duo

[Ravel: Music for Two Pianos; Somm 25 (2002)]

Glen Inanga is a Nigerian pianist who lives in the U.K. He was brought to our attention by his fellow Nigerian pianist Sodi Braide. For the past 13 years the career of the one-time Engineering student has been nearly inseparable from that of his partner in the Micallef-Inanga Duo, Jennifer Micallef, from Malta. The two pianists give such priority to their appearance on stage that they have their own fashion designers. The Duo's website is, which provides this introduction:

Jennifer Micallef and Glen Inanga have been collaborating since 1994 when they began their studies with Aaron Shorr and Martin Roscoe at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Their binding chemistry was obvious from the outset, and three years later critics were already describing them as "an exceptionally gifted team in terms of ensemble, nuance, sensitivity, elan and musical intelligence".

In 1995 the Duo won the International Schubert Piano Duo competition in the Czech Republic and was invited to return as jury members the following year. In 1996, they were awarded the RTZ-CRA Ensemble Prize at the Royal Over-Seas League Competition, London. Success continued in later years with major prizes at international piano duo competitions - ARD in Munich and Murray Dranoff in Miami - Osaka International Chamber Music Competition & Festa, Japan, and awards granted by the Eric Falk and John Tunnell Trusts and the Countess of Munster Musical Trust Recital Scheme.

Since their highly acclaimed South Bank début in the Park Lane Group Young Artists Series, the Duo have performed at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall and Wigmore Hall giving regular recital and concerto engagements throughout Europe, Canada, the USA and Asia.

Pianist Magazine published a fascinating article on the Micallef-Inanga Duo in June 2003:

'We are at opposite ends of the spectrum personality-wise,' says Glen frankly, and Jennifer doesn't deny it: 'I'm from the heart - the soul! He's a diplomatic guy.'

However, as Glen points out, opposing characteristics have ultimately proved to be positive: 'You just accept the differences and make them work. You see it as a responsibility to bring something new that the other person doesn't have - so in a way you actually celebrate your differences. A bit of Jennifer has rubbed off on me - I think she has encouraged the instinctive side of my playing to come out.'

'Neither of us had exposure to classical music in the same way that our peers did in England,' says Glen. 'My mum is a musician and there was always music in the house, but I was still behind many other people.'

Having spent summers in America at music camps Glen had done a certain amount of chamber music already but he remembers, 'The level Jennifer had in mind was unlike anything else. It hadn't occurred to me that you could make a career as a duo pianist.'

Honey Park and Kis Jeong are the duo's own couture designers - it may be icing on the cake but both Jennifer and Glen clearly love it.

The Luzerne Music Center at Lake Luzerne, New York recently referred to Glen Inanga as “Alumnus Star pianist” in an article on its Chamber Series:

July 25th featured Alumnus Star pianist Glen Inanga in duo with pianist Jennifer Micaleff in music of Chopin, Ravel, Shostakovich and Dave Brubeck. (Sponsored by Lufthansa German Airlines)

Glen Inanga began his training as a boy in Nigeria, attended our Center under a scholarship from his piano instructor beginning in 1985, and studied with Ms. Blumenthal for two summers.

The Micallef-Inanga Duo have made three CDs, all of which have been very well received:

Micallef/Inanga Two-Piano Works; Works of Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Bohuslav Martinu, Francis Poulenc; Royal Over-Seas League (1998)

Ravel: Music for Two Pianos
; Somm 25 (2002)

Holloway: Gilded Goldbergs;
Hyperion (2002)

On Sept. 28, 2007 Joshua Nemith's Cincinnati Pianist Blog discussed Sodi Braide's CD of piano works of César Franck, Lyrinx 249 (2007). The blog observed:

Nigeria is increasingly producing some young pianists of note. Glen Inanga, one half of the Micallef-Inanga piano duo, is of Nigerian descent. The duo has released quite a few records, one of the most interesting being a massive set of variations by Robin Holloway based on Bach’s Goldberg Variations (the work only fits on two CD’s and is titled “Gilded Goldbergs”).

The International Record Review had high praise for the Duo's interpretation of Robin Holloway's score:

The very capable duo of Jennifer Micallef and Glen Inanga provide a handsome rendering of this enormous, intricate, many-mooded piece, parts of which will only ever be within the reach of virtuosi (there are variations dedicated to Nicolas Hodges and Thomas Adès).

On Nov. 11, 2006, Nigerians in America published a piece by Wumi Raji on the 70th birthday party of Abiola Irele at Churchill College. The Liberian vocalist Dawn Padmore was accompanied on piano by Glen Inanga in a concert of works of composers of African descent. Sponsors were the Centre for Intercultural Musicology at Churchill College (CIMACC) and the Churchill College Music Society. CIMACC was founded under the leadership of Prof. Akin Euba, the well known Nigerian composer and musicologist who is the Andrew Mellon Professor of Music at the University of Pittsburgh in the U.S. Akin Euba is profiled at Wumi Raji turned to the qualifications of the pianist:

Inanga, a Nigerian pianist of distinction, had originally studied Engineering at Clare College, University of Cambridge, before proceeding to the Royal Academy of Music, London to pursue a former qualification in the area of his first love. Now a holder of a Master of Music degree of the University of London and Associate of Royal Academy of Music, Inanga has a standing partnership with Jennifer Micallef together with whom he won the 1995 Schubert Piano Duo competition in the Czech Republic. He is also a distinguished soloist and in this regard, a major feat of his was the Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue performed to a capacity hall at Lincoln Centre, New York in 2000.

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