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Local pianist sees music as a universal language of diversity and inclusivity

"I've always believed that music is a universal language."
Ala Gialla, local master pianist

Master pianist Ala Gialla, based in Longmont, traces her profound connection to music back to her Hong Kong roots before and during the British occupation, and now, she shares this passion through teaching, recording and free concerts for the community celebrating diversity.

"I've always believed that music is a universal language. I've seen musicians from different corners of the world, speaking various languages, yet coming together to play in harmony, understanding each other through the notes they play," Gialla said.

As an immigrant, Gialla was keen on bringing diversity to the music scene. She believed that live shows should offer an array of music, broadening the horizons for those in attendance and creating avenues for underrepresented artists. She was pleasantly surprised at the acceptance and love she has received from Coloradans, who embraced her music.

"When choosing music for my shows, I look for sounds from many different countries. It's my way of paying tribute to the diversity that I cherish," Gialla said. 

Recently, Gialla embarked on an exciting new journey into the realm of recording music. Although this venture was a fresh experience for her, the challenge invigorated her creativity. The fruits of her labor were evident in her singles, “Autumn” and “Running Away”, both of which debuted in December 2022. These tracks paved the way for her debut piano album, “A New Beginning”, which was released in mid-December of the same year. 

For Gialla, delving into the realm of recording has opened up a contrasting world to her live performances. While playing live offers the exhilaration of immediate audience feedback, recording presents its own set of unique challenges and rewards. In the studio, she relishes the ability to dissect, augment, and refine her compositions, meticulously fine-tuning the music. It's a process that allows her to sculpt and perfect her creations in ways that a live setting might not permit. 

At the core of Gialla's musical odyssey is an unwavering passion for teaching. From Hong Kong where she began imparting musical knowledge, to her current base in Longmont, her commitment to education remains undiminished. 

One of Gialla's standout qualities is her ability to connect with students of all ages, from eager young children discovering the joys of music for the first time, to older individuals seeking to revive or hone their skills. She finds unique joy and fulfillment in every teaching moment, believing that it's never too early or too late to embrace the wonders of music.

"Teaching, playing live, recording — they're all interconnected. Each one enriches the other," Gialla said.

A special initiative close to her heart is "Keys to Inclusivity: Piano Music for All", funded by the Boulder Arts Commission. This series aims to introduce diverse and accessible piano music to the public, breaking traditional barriers of classical music. The concerts, free for all, encapsulate Gialla's vision — to make music a shared experience, no matter where you come from or who you are.

"Through this project, we want to challenge the notion that piano music is reserved for the elite," Gialla noted. "We're showcasing music from various cultures and emphasizing the contributions of female composers."

In her continued mission to celebrate and share the wonders of music, Gialla's next free show is scheduled for August 12th at 3 p.m at the Boulder Public Library. This show is dedicated entirely to honoring the invaluable contributions of female composers.