“IT STILL TAKES TWO TO TANGO”

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(Part 2)
Last week’s Part I of the Ernie Bruce and Samson Tarpeh Classical Music Recital ended with George Foreman beating himself up in an early-1970s boxing match that pitted Foreman as a rival against the legendary Muhammad Ali. (Many of Ali’s fans feared for Ali, who was trying to work his way back into boxing. Ali had been stripped of his title for refusing to join the U.S. Military. Others believed that George Foreman’s power-punches would enable him to hurt Ali that early in his comeback run. For the benefit of those who missed Part 1, here is a recap:

[Before the fight, the rap on Foreman always had been that he was too ‘full-of-himself’. That helps explain why he fell for the “…lies and jest to the man who hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest:” a line from “The Boxer,” several repeats of ‘lie la lie’, formed the chorus to that “Simon and Garfunkel” hit-song that the duo belted out as one of their more memorable triumphs of yesteryears.

Like “The Boxer” in that sad song, George Foreman wrongly believed that his fight with Ali was only about him. He soon found out how wrong he was. The reigning champ entered the ring, throwing everything he could muster at Ali, the man many had come to accept as “The Greatest” as he claimed, and would prove himself to be.

George rained relentless blows on Ali; but to no avail: the boxing specialist stayed out of the way of some of Foreman’s best punches, even though one or two landed somewhat; Ali brushed aside the few that landed, wondering aloud whether those were all that the bewildered Foreman had to offer; he then danced away, in typical Ali fashion.

As calculated, Foreman would weaken himself following his one dimensional but unforgiving battering that targeted Ali’s body. Taking his cue from a weakened Foreman, our boxing specialist, Muhammed Ali, smoothly changed his tactics and shifted to the second part of his strategy to floor his opponent. He moved off the ropes that his ‘rope-a-dope’ plan had dictated and approached George Foreman. With clinical precision aimed at the head of the brawler, “The Greatest” surprised the now lumbering (awkward, clumsy) Foreman, and stunned him with a couple of stinging jabs. Ali then delivered the finishing touches that took Foreman apart. Ali’s inevitable coup de grace (finishing blow) soon followed, cutting Foreman down to the floor and leaving him sprawled out on the canvas. George had no clue of what had happened to him. Should you today, somewhere in the Western Hemisphere, during quiet moments hear a sigh, don’t fret; it might be George Foreman, still trying to figure out how recklessly he had undone himself by playing into the hands of one who had used his head as well as his hands. NOW READ ON:]

The Muhammad Ali George Foreman fight comes close to reminding us of how hubris (overweening arrogance or pride) may easily undo those who try to work together or should, but for the unwillingness of one or the other—sometimes both—to remember that there is more to the tango, than the fact that it takes two to do it. It would be no tango unless the partners did whatever was required to ensure that the dance took place and was performed spectacularly. In a word, come hell or high water, nothing stops the show it must, always, go on, subordinating all egos to the pursuit of Art!

And the Christmas Day recital by Ernie Bruce and Sampson Tarpeh did come off, living up to its billing—even though it was held on New Year’s Eve, rather than on Christmas Eve as earlier announce. And that postponement did nothing to discourage those who had waited for almost five years for another treat from their two favorite, local artistes. When the curtains were raised, the much-anticipated professionalism kicked in, just as it always has when prima donnas and divas take their cues, and mount the stage for serious business; at this point, the bickering is put to rest and the tomfoolery (foolish or silly behavior) simply fritters away.

SAMSON
The recital began with Samson Tarpeh taking the stage to warm up the audience with his first piece, a sonata in D major, by Franz Joseph Haydn. Mr. Tarpeh showed from the start that he was in total control of the piano and was directing it to speak musically to all around him
By his second performance, Samson had settled in and soon began raising his left arm slightly above his torso, bringing it crashing down on the keys that wailed in delight as the pianist demanded the sounds he knew would accentuate the music at his bidding. He maintained that cadence over the following two items that included Chopin’s Military Polinaise in A Major, Op 40. No. 1 and Franz Schubert’s “Impromptu in E. flat Major, Op. 90, No. 2.”

Samson struck a responsive chord with Francis Lei’s “Theme from Love Song,” during which he demonstrated some of the self-confidence that most accomplished artistes attach on to their artistic personas, that enables them to project an air of mystery and other-worldliness.
With his fourth piece, a medley of Christmas Carols that treated listeners to musical suggestions often buried or lost in the humdrum of commercialization and the oversimplification of things relevant to the season, Samson made Poebe P. Knapp’s medley drew a standing ovation.

ERNIE
Ernie Bruce lost no time stepping in to change the tempo, starting his collaborative work with Samson, with a moving rendition of Ernest Chausson’s “Les Papillions,” followed by Charles Ives’ “My native Land.” Ernie soon began to display his well-known mastery over those pieces that often draw out his hands, imploring his audience to immerse itself in the inspirational songs he had selected.

They responded: “Be quiet” Togba Nah Tipoteh advised me when I tried to whisper something to one of the guests. Meanwhile, Jehu Richardson shut his eyes, raised his head and allowing the thrills and delight that the now-exciting notes brought, take him to a higher level. Nothing else seemed to matter, and the bassist rose to the occasion.
Ernie drew applause with his remarkably soft, “Of Whom Shall I be Afraid?” Softer still, was “Oh Tod,” confirmed by the movement of his instructive hands that bid the audience remain pensive and introspective. He succeeded beyond his wildest expectation by the intensity he was able to generate from such a soft and quiet song.

Guiseppe Verdi’s Il lacerate spirit closed in triumph followed closely by Ol’ Man River that evoked memories of Gentle Tom in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and drew tears from Clarise King. Roland Hayes’ articulate and engaging lullaby about “Christ in the Temple” drew smiles.

And then, Ernie brought down the Curtains with his masterful rendition of Ralph Blane’s, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” The audience rose to its feet, delivering a standing ovation for the gift of joy and fulfillment the evening had provided.

Others in attendance included the dentist, Dr. Ayele Cox, former mayor of the City of Monrovia, Ophelia Hoff-Saytumah, the artiste’s brother William Bruce and his wife, Wachen, Dr. Evelyn Kandakai, former Minister of Education, Providence Baptist Pastor, Rev. Dr. Samuel B,Reeves, Jr., Charles Snetter, and other classical music enthusiasts.

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