Pianist Panos Karan launched Musee Musical Foundation’s Chennai Youth Sinfonietta

Panos Karan

Panos Karan   | Photo Credit: special arrangement


Panos Karan believes that music can make the world a better place

For a performance to make an impact, especially in the fragmented way in which we consume information and entertainment today, curation is crucial.

Last Sunday at Taj Coromandel, to mark the launch of Musee Musical Foundation’s Chennai Youth Sinfonietta, London-based, Greece-born pianist Panos Karan, conductor and humanitarian, presented an hour-long concert that was crafted with care. Karan shared with the audience, insights not only into the music but also the legendary composers who wrote it, making the entire experience a narrative infused with generous amounts of wit and humour.

Opening with Beethoven and journeying through the music of Fazil Say, Frederic Chopin, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Franz Liszt, and finally taking a bow with a Greek dance song, the concert was reflective of music that was eclectic and accessible at the same time.

When he is on the piano, Karan is a committed and serious musician; adhering to the classical tradition that he studied formally at the Royal Academy of Music, London. But off the piano, he is on another mission. “You see, like all youngsters studying the piano, my biggest dream — since childhood — was to play at the Carnegie Hall in New York city,” he says, post-performance, “After I realised my dream in my early 20s, I was constantly gripped by a question that I wanted — desperately — to find an answer for. Why do I want to play the music I do?”

Chennai to get a youth orchestra
  • Karan’s concert in Chennai marked the launch of the Musee Musical Foundation’s collaboration with Keys of Change to develop and nurture a first-of-its-kind youth orchestra called Chennai Youth Sinfonietta. At the project’s helm are Musee Musical’s brothers, Sachin Das and Kishore Das. Speaking of the orchestra and how it will take form and shape, Sachin Das says, “A call for auditions has already been initiated for all the string players under the age of 21 and the first six months to a year will be invested in developing a good string section, consisting of the violin, viola and the cello. Thereafter, the orchestra will grow step-by-step under the tutelage of experts under the aegis of Keys of Change and the Musee Musical Foundation. The idea is really to nurture and showcase talent in a manner that is truly international.”

Karan began drifting away from the proscenium stage and travelled with his piano to meet audiences that were living through extraordinary circumstances. “I realised how the audience is not only entertained and moved, but also how it is possible that their lives could undergo a change because of the music,” he says.

That moment of epiphany marked the birth of UK-based Keys of Change, a charity he founded in 2011, with a group of individuals who believe — very simply — that playing music “can make the world a better place”.

Since then, Karan has travelled the length and breadth of the world with his piano, interacting with audiences living in difficult circumstances and allowing his music to touch them in one way or the other. “I will always remember,” he says, “my guide in Sierra Leone, who used to be a child soldier and who now uses all his time to volunteer to help young people... Or an old man who was in an evacuation centre in Japan who lost all his family in the tsunami of 2011. He spoke for the first time after six months when he heard on the piano, a piece of music he recognised... Or the young girl in the ICU of Vladivostok cancer hospital in Russia who wrote to me that she thought music was important to carry on living.”

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 2:53:17 AM |

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