Arts, Entertainment

Young African Pianist Achieves His Dreams

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piano-362251_960_720By Julia Mohamed

As a boy, Mehdi Ghazi had a dream. He wanted to be a classical pianist.

But he lived in Algeria, a northern African nation torn apart by a long-standing civil war between government forces and Islamic rebels. The war had shut down the music conservatory. And western classical music was nearly unheard of there—in fact, some called it “the devil’s music.”

Ghazi had no piano. He practiced on a keyboard drawn on a sheet of paper. And he had no teacher, so he taught himself to play.

Last week, Mehdi Ghazi, now 21, played his first piano concert—on stage in Montreal.

Two Canadians changed the course of Ghazi’s life. The Canadian ambassador to Algeria and an concert pianist from Quebec named Alain Lefèvre.

Lefevre was on tour when he heard Ghazi play and recognized his talent. Ghazi was 16 years old, and playing on a $300 piano his father had borrowed money to buy.

Lefèvre felt that the young, skillful musician deserved an opportunity to perform and share his gift with the world.

Lefèvre contacted Canada’s ambassador to Algeria, who smoothed the way for Ghazi to travel to his country’s capital. There, Ghazi played onstage with Lefèvre—and he brought the audience to its feet.

Lefèvre eventually brought Gazi to Quebec with him to study and perform.

Today he is 21 and Ghazi’s talents are being recognized. He is at the top of his class. And last month he performed for Canada’s Governor-General, David Johnston, at Rideau Hall.

Alain Lefèvre is proud to see how far Ghazi has come. He says that seeing Mehdi perform in Montreal is very emotional for him.

Now that Mehdi Ghazi has reached his goal, he has a new dream: to open a music school in Algeria.

Julia Mohamed is a journalism student at Ryerson University.

Image: Alton, Wikimedia Commons.
 
This article was written from information contained in an article in the Globe and Mail. Please click here to see the Globe article, as well as a video of Mehdi Ghazi playing the piano and talking about his experiences.
 

 

 

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Mehdi Ghazi and Alain Lefèvre have lived very different lives. Think about what their lives would have been like as they were growing up. Compare the similarities and differences between these two men.

Reading Prompt
The sentences in today’s article have different lengths. Some sentences are really short, some are medium length, and some are quite long. Why do you think authors use sentences of different lengths in their writing?

Primary
Identify some simple elements of style, including voice, word choice, and  different types of sentences, and explain how they help readers understand  texts (OME, Reading: 2.4).

Junior
Identify various elements of style – including word choice and the use of  similes, personification, comparative adjectives, and sentences of different  types, lengths, and structures – and explain how they help communicate meaning (OME, Reading: 2.4).

Grammar Feature: Conjunction sentence starters (And/But)
Teachers often tell their students to never start their sentences with the words “and” or “but.” But in today’s article, the author does both (and I just did it too).

But he lived in Algeria, a northern African nation torn apart by a long-standing civil war between government forces and Islamic rebels. The war had shut down the music conservatory.

And western classical music was nearly unheard of there—in fact, some called it “the devil’s music.”

The truth is, writers can start sentences with “and” or “but,” as long as their sentences are clear and easy for readers to understand.

Try it out. Write one sentence that starts with the word “and” and a second sentence that starts with the word “but.”