Music

‘I live, eat and sleep music’: Zoraver Mehta

Pianist Zoraver Mehta

Pianist Zoraver Mehta   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Pianist Zoraver Mehta on trying to develop an audience for Western classical music

“I have 15,000 songs in my phone, right from those from the 10th century to pieces from 2019. So, I have everything from Gregorian chants to Shawn Mendez. I am currently listening to Doris Day’s ‘Tea for Two’. Once I get obsessed by a new song, I tend to play it on loop, much to the annoyance of those around me. When I am reading, I listen to music; when I am asleep, I listen to music; when I am eating, I listen to music... I live, eat and sleep music,” says Zoraver Mehta.

An up-and-coming pianist, Zoraver, an all-India topper of the advanced grade Piano Certificate examination conducted by Trinity College, London, was in the city for a concert organised by Trivandrum Centre for Performing Arts. The Western classical pianist, who enjoys dabbling in jazz, entertained the audience with compositions ranging from classical Mozart to 20th Century Jazz. Excerpts from an interview with the 18-year-old.

A mentor, teacher and friend

It was Priya Chaturvedi, my piano instructor at Doon School, Dehradun, who instilled the love for the piano in me. I admit that I wasn’t serious when I started learning the instrument at the age of eight. It was when I was 13 that I became serious about music; I recall waking up early to practise and practising after school until late at night. Priya ma’am gave me not just the confidence, but also the training needed to become a musician. She is my mentor, teacher and friend.

Zoraver Mehta

Zoraver Mehta   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

A bit of classical, a bit of jazz

I am a classical pianist and a self-taught jazz musician. I was in Philadelphia for a summer music camp where I performed an improvisation on George Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’, which is a jazz standard. As for why my music is focussed on mostly classical music, it’s because certain emotions, I feel, can only be triggered through a classical piece. A classical music piece can be played differently each time for a different audience depending on how the player feels and on the connect the musician feels with the audience. For example, the audience I am playing for in Thiruvananthapuram are knowledgeable about classical music. Therefore, I will be more conservative in interpretations and will be sticking to the form while also beautifying it in my way. After hearing a musician playing raag Jog recently, I called a friend of mine who plays Hindustani music and we started jamming and came out with a raag Jog blues improvisation.

Bringing in the audience

People say there isn’t an audience for Western classical music and I say, that’s great, let’s get them to listen to it. As a classical musician, you need to bring the audience in. I was in class nine when I started an initiative called Allegro. My roommate in school was a die-hard hip-hop fan. He soon started enjoying Mozart when I played Mozart’s pieces excessively. And that got me thinking. Through Allegro, I try to spread classical music by making it fun. I have conducted various sessions of Allegro in Manali, Delhi and Mumbai. I believe people respond better to a piece of music when you explain the context of the number you are playing.

Composing pop tunes

I wanted to prove that a person trained in Western classical music could compose pop tunes as well so I wrote and recorded a couple of pop melodies. My first song, ‘Sobriety’, explored emotions that are commonplace amongst contemporary youth. Universal Music India, who heard it, says that the album would sell. I have four songs so far and am still working on more and have yet to decide on a title for the album.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 12:53:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/pianist-zoraver-mehta-is-trying-to-develop-an-audience-for-western-classical-music/article28707671.ece

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