13-Year-Old US Pianist Plays With Iraq Orchestra
|May 22, 2010||Filled under All Dinar Trade Articles|
Llewellyn Kingman Sanchez Werner, who studies piano and composition at New York’s renowned Juilliard School, got a standing ovation from an enthusiastic crowd of about 250 after performing Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” and warmly embraced the conductor.
Most of the audience at Baghdad’s Rasheed Hotel was Iraqi, though a few American soldiers were in the crowd.
“It was just amazing,” said the slim, energetic teenager with long, wavy brown hair. “We connected well with this orchestra. I like the spontaneity of it. Honestly we had a ball up there,” he told The Associated Press afterward.
Llewellyn arrived in the Iraqi capital Friday for the first time with his mother and father and admitted he was a little scared.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” he told the AP in an interview before the concert, describing his heavily guarded trip past blast walls, concertina wire and checkpoints on the way from the airport to the hotel in the heavily protected Green Zone.
“I’ve never had a bulletproof vest on before and a helmet and all this protection,” he said. “Honestly, before I got here, I was a little scared. But as soon as I arrived, I felt safe in a way.”
Thoughtful and articulate, Llewellyn said he has been following the news and knows he is in a war zone. But he said he hoped he would “break ground” with his performance.
“I don’t want to be shallow. I know there are strong feelings out there,” he said of the Iraqis. “Several mistakes from my country have been made in terms of invasion and occupation. But me being here today is one way to show the U.S. has a lot of wonderful things to offer.”
His father, Llewellyn Werner and his California-based private investment firm have been working in Baghdad alongside the U.S. Department of Defense for three years. The father met the conductor of the Iraqi orchestra and proposed that his son come over to play with them.
“My son leaped at the opportunity enthusiastically,” he said. “He came here with absolute fearlessness because he believes the music brings…(more story)
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