Friday, April 23, 2010

Foreign Minister Timothy Yang confers diplomatic medals on Lina Yeh, Rolf-Peter Wille

By Nancy T. Lu

Taiwan’s best-known piano duo Lina Yeh and Rolf-Peter Wille were conferred diplomatic medals by Foreign Minister Timothy Yang at a ceremony which took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei on April 23.

The awarding of the Friendship Medals of Diplomacy came particularly after their significant achievement in consolidating the ROC’s friendship with diplomatically allied Vatican. Over the years since 1987, Lina Yeh and Rolf-Peter Wille have traveled to many countries on different continents as ambassadors of goodwill, making their contributions toward strengthening the Republic of China's friendly ties with different countries especially in the absence of diplomatic relations. The two marked their 30-year milestone performing professionally as a piano duo earlier this year.

Friends, colleagues from the academe, mentors as well as diverse individuals whom Lina Yeh described as those who have helped and supported her and her German husband in arriving at their significant accomplishments were present during the awarding ceremony on Friday. Yeh’s parents also attended the event.

The Taipei-based piano duo received an invitation from the Vatican to perform at the 25th founding anniversary celebrations of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers earlier this year.

During their brief but memorable encounter with Pope Benedict XVI, the Papal Pontiff – a German national like Wille – revealed that he also plays four hands with his brother and former director of the Regensburger Domspatzen choir, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger. Pope Benedict XVI loves playing on the piano. In fact, when he was elected the new head of the Roman Catholic Church, there was talk about the need to move his piano to the papal apartment at the Vatican. This proved quite a challenge.

Yeh and Wille performed music by Bach, Brahms, Edvard Grieg and Francis Poulenc at the function at the Vatican. Bach is one of Pope Benedict XVI’s favorite composers. He is known to listen to music daily.

All photographs were taken by Nancy T. Lu.

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