April 24th, 2014
I recently saw a BBC feature by a Santiago-based correspondent on a young woman named Mahani Teave who is Easter Island’s only classical pianist. These are the type of stories I find truly inspiring.
When you think of this remote and isolated South Pacific island, you normally think of moai, those huge stone figures whose origins and presence have mystified people for a long time. You don’t think about Chopin, Rachmaninov, or Bach.
This young Easter Islander fell in love with the classics as a girl, and studied with the only teacher and on the only piano on the island. But the teacher left after a year, and the piano fell into disrepair and became unplayable. Her wishes and dreams were put on hold.
But Mahani had a persistent vision of her childhood’s music pursuits and took the whole family to Chile (2,300 miles away, the nearest landmass to Easter Island). There she could continue to study and play. She later studied music in the US and Germany, where she now lives. But living in Europe didn’t stop her from starting a music school on the island, complete with a grand piano.
She told the BBC, “Music is a really big part of the culture on the island. If there’s a guitar or a ukulele in the house, you can guarantee that everyone in the family, even the five-year-old kid, can play it.”
Here is a YouTube video of Mahani playing the beautiful Barcarole in F major by Chopin:
Here is another video shot on her home turf, Easter Island:
For you Spanish speakers, here’s an interview on Santiago TV:
Tom Schnabel, M.A.