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SUNDAY MORNING

Six degrees

Mark Peters

 

Herbie Hancock, the celebrated American jazz pianist, will be tinkling the ivories for us when his quartet takes to the stage at Baptist University on November 12. Hancock, once a recording artist for the legendary Blue Note Records, had a mainstream hit with Rockit, an instrumental which became an anthem for b-boys and hip-hoppers in the 1980s. Last year, he was joined on stage by 50 young pianists to celebrate the 30th birthday of the "hottest artist on the classical music planet", Lang Lang …

Born in Shenyang, Liaoning province, the concert pianist was inspired to study the instrument at the age of two, he claims, after hearing Franz Liszt's music in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. At nine years old, Lang, who played at the opening ceremony for Beijing's 2008 Summer Olympics and has been described as "the J Lo of the piano", was expelled from his tutor's studio reportedly due to a "lack of talent". In 2011, he performed at a state dinner at the White House, in the United States, in honour of then Chinese president Hu Jintao. Other dignitaries he has played for include former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan …

Born in Ghana in 1938, the global humanitarian - and the world's "secular pope" - was educated at British-run Christian schools before winning a college scholarship to study in Minnesota, in the US, where he encountered snow for the first time. His friends advised him to wear ear muffs in the cold but Annan originally refused, thinking they looked ridiculous. "After I nearly froze my ears off I realised they were right - it was an early lesson in taking local knowledge seriously," he has said. Annan is a member of the Fondation Chirac honour committee, a peacekeeping organisation started in 2008 by the 22nd president of France, Jacques Chirac …

In 2009, Chirac was rushed to hospital after being savaged by his pet dog Sumo, a white Maltese poodle that was being treated with anti-depressants. Bernadette Chirac, the former first lady, said the dog had attacked her husband "for no apparent reason". In 1997, Chirac became the first sitting president to visit the Cannes Film Festival, which that year celebrated its 50th anniversary with a special Palm of Palms award presented to Swedish director Ingmar Bergman …

The title of Bergman's memoir, The Magic Lantern, refers to a childhood possession he acquired when he was nine in a trade for a set of tin soldiers, and which changed his life. The young Ingmar, whose strict religious parents would lock him in a wardrobe when he wet the bed, used his new toy to fashion a safe private world where he could immerse himself in his own puppet productions of Strindberg plays. On July 30, 2007 Bergman died, aged 89, at his home on the sparsely populated Baltic island of Faro; another filmmaker who died that day was Italian Michelangelo Antonioni …

Noted for his one-word acceptance speech - " Grazie", the shortest in Oscars history - Antonioni worked briefly as a journalist for Cinema, the official fascist film magazine edited by Vittorio Mussolini, the second son of Italian dictator Benito. In 1972, Antonioni was invited to visit China by Mao Zedong's government but his resulting documentary, Chung Kuo, Cina was to be roundly denounced as anti-Chinese and anti-communist. The soundtrack to Antonioni's 1966 film about a "swinging London" fashion photographer, Blowup, was scored by jazz pioneer Herbie Hancock.

 

 

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