x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Funding stops pianist hitting the high notes

Self-taught student may have to delay studying at a prestigious college due to a lack of funding despite a part scholarship.

Ghadeer Abeidoh, 18, has been reading music since she was 5 years old.
Ghadeer Abeidoh, 18, has been reading music since she was 5 years old.

DUBAI // A talented pianist has been forced to delay studying at a prestigious musical college in America while she tries to raise money to fund her course. Ghadeer Abeidoh was supposed to start at Berklee College of Music in September but has had to defer until January to give her time to find the US$44,000 (Dh161,600) it will cost to study there.

Miss Abeidoh, 18, hopes sponsorship or donations will ensure she can continue with her dream of becoming a professional pianist. "I really want to go but just don't know if I can afford it. Everything's up in the air at the moment," she said. She has been given a partial scholarship of $8,000 (Dh28,382) by the college in Boston for half the tuition fees but needs to raise a total of $44,000 (Dh161,605) to cover the rest, as well as other expenses such as rent, travel, living expenses and health insurance.

Just 30 per cent of applicants win places at the Berklee College of Music, which was founded in 1945. Joey Kramer and Brad Whitford of the rock band Aerosmith are just two of the college's successful alumni. Miss Abeidoh's achievement is all the more remarkable due to the fact she has been self-taught since the age of 13. Since coming to Dubai five years ago, she has been unable to find a teacher of a high enough calibre to coach her. Her school in Dubai, Al Rashid Al Saleh Private School, did not offer music so she coached herself to a diploma in Performance from the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music in the UK, two years ago.

A Palestinian born in Syria, Miss Abeidoh has been able to read music as long as she's read Arabic and English - from the age of five. Her favourite music to play is by the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninov, with whom she feels her greatest affinity, saying she feels his longing for his home country through his music, much as she herself longs for her native Palestine. She has never been to the Palestinian Territories, moving from Syria to Jordan and then to Dubai, where she has grown up.

"I'd love to go to Palestine, it's my country. It's an inherent sense of wanting to go back. We all dream of going back there, to the place we belong." She won her place at Berklee to study for a bachelor's degree after an audition in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year. She had applied online, spontaneously, sending links to her playing some of her favourite pieces such as Ravel's Jeux d'Eau for solo piano.

"I never thought I'd actually get to the interview stage," she said. She had to play one piece, which was by the Russian composer Arcadi Volodos, called Arrangement of the Turkish March, an adaptation of Mozart. On top of that, she had to do sight reading, improvisation and ear training. Tod Oliviere, the director of scholarships, said: "This recognition is indeed an honour and a privilege considering the high level of talent and musical promise we have observed during our audition and interview process."