Pianist Assoulen thrills Kigali with 'Perfumed concert'

It was nothing like Kigali had ever witnessed before. French Jazz composer and pianist Laurent Assoulen’s Sentire concert at the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) auditorium in Kimihurura on Thursday night had another name –the “perfumed concert.”
French Pianist Laurent Assoulen plays at Sentire concert at Rwanda Revenue Authority audotorium yesterday.
French Pianist Laurent Assoulen plays at Sentire concert at Rwanda Revenue Authority audotorium yesterday.

It was nothing like Kigali had ever witnessed before. French Jazz composer and pianist Laurent Assoulen’s Sentire concert at the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) auditorium in Kimihurura on Thursday night had another name –the “perfumed concert.”

But just what is a “Perfumed concert”? That question in itself was the motivation for many that turned up at the concert, which was one in a series of events organised to mark Europe Day and Europe Week celebrations in Kigali.

 

For those with some knowledge of Italian and Latin, sentire is a word which means to feel, to hear or to sense.

 

Assoulen’s concert merged piano music with scents, with different perfumes accompanying the different pieces he performed for the night. The piano was his companion for the night, and took center stage. On it, he proceeded to play only his original musical compositions.

 

But he started his performance with an improvised piece that lasted for about five minutes, just to make sure the piano was in good shape. After that, it was time for his own compositions, and time as well as to demystify the mystery of the “perfume concert.”

Assoulen revealed that he had created all the perfumes while creating the music that each perfume accompanied. At different corners of the auditorium, young ladies sat at tables on top of which were tiny cans of the perfumes.

1494629229The-free-concert-did-not-get-a-big-attendance
The free concert did not get a big attendance. Photos by Faustin Niyigena

Before performing each musical piece, the “perfume girls” descended in the audience distributing thin white strips of paper that were no ordinary paper; they came soaked in different perfume scents. Each perfume told the story of the song that it accompanied.

After each piece, the French performer rose from the piano to offer a brief explanation about the music’s inspiration. Then the whole music-perfume routine would be repeated all over again.

By the time, the performance ended, the RRA auditorium was washed in scents of varying sweetness.

The concert was part of various cultural activities to mark the 60th anniversary celebrations of the European Union in Rwanda. This particular concert was organized by the European Union in partnership with the French Institute in Rwanda, which brought in the French pianist.

It was attended by the Chief Justice of Rwanda, Sam Rugege and the Netherlands ambassador to Rwanda, Leoni Cuelenaere, among others.

After the performance, original autographed CDs of Assoulen’s music, complete with the accompanying perfumes were sold at the entrance.

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