19 July 2021
By Ellie Palmer
The Venezuelan pianist features on the cover of issue 121 of Pianist magazine
To celebrate her appearance on the cover of the latest issue of Pianist, we've picked out five of our favourite improvisation performances of her from YouTube. Take a look below.
Cantonese Opera theme, Hong Kong, 2017
Montero improvises over a theme from Cantonese opera, Princess Chang Ping, and the them of Star Wars – both of which were suggested by the audience themselves.
As with a lot of her improvisational performances, the initial process of the audience choosing a theme for Gabriela is often quite comedic with lots of audience members singing different songs at the same time – especially in this particular clip in Koln, Germany.
Alma Llanera, Mexico, 2016
Gabriela was performing alongside the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico when she began improvising on Alma Llanera – a traditional Venezuelan song. She comments: "I began to improvise on Alma Llanera and I began to cry like a girl at the piano. That sea of emotions, sadness, pain simply overwhelmed me in such a way that I could not contain crying.
The audience accompanied me in that feeling and I left the stage feeling that music is the noblest expression of who we are as human beings. It is what connects us."
Feliz Cumpleaños, Venezuela, 2009
Back in her home country, Gabriela was performing with the Venezuelan Youth Symphony Orchestra when she unexpectedly surprised the First Flute player Simón Bolívar Katherine Rivas with an improvised rendition of 'Happy Birthday'.
What a delight!
Venezuelan National Anthem, 2013
Watch as Montero improvises on her home country's national anthem, "Himno Nacional a lo Cacerolazo!", in a minor key rather than the traditional major key. She is accompanied by the pots and pans of traditional Venezuelan protest.
Main image: ©Shelley Mosman
Gabriela Montero stars on the cover of issue 121 of Pianist (August/September), and talks in depth inside about her love of improvising, the impact of Martha Argerich on her career, and her role in activism.