Pianists Chelsea de Souza and Chloe de Souza present the works of legendary musicians at this classical music showcase this weekend

Chelsea presents works of Claude Debussy, Toru Takemitsu, Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji and Reena Esmail
In frame: Chelsea de Souza
In frame: Chelsea de Souza

The Piano is a great instrument to understand various musical cultures and the influence they can have on each other. From legendary pianists like Beethoven and Mozart to contemporary stars like Elton John and Martha Argerich, everyone influences the other. Elaborating on this ‘influencing’ of music, US-based concert pianists and sisters Chelsea de Souza and Chloe de Souza present two piano recitals in the city as part of their ongoing India tour. We talk to Chelsea about the upcoming performance and the future projects she has in the pipeline.

“The performance is part of the concert tour that my sister and I are on. We just finished our first performance of the tour in Goa. On the first night, Chloe is doing a very exciting solo piano recital and then I join her at the end for a duet. The second night is a lecture recital that I am doing where I will be speaking about the music I will be playing and Chloe will be joining me at the end for a duet,” begins Chelsea.

<em>Chloe de Souza & Chelsea de Souza</em>
Chloe de Souza & Chelsea de Souza

The upcoming performance has been titled as The Silk Road: A Tale of Musical Trade between East and West. Talking about the title of the performance and revealing more about what the audience can expect, Chelsea says, “I had always been very fascinated by how music is affected by cultural interaction. Like when different people from different parts of the world interact, they get influenced by each other’s music. When cultural interactions take place between East and West, specifically with western classical music, we do not usually think about all these hidden cultural influences that have gone into the making of the works that I will be presenting. The start of my recital is about Claude Debussy. So, when you think of Debussy, who was a French impressionist and composer, he was very much influenced by Eastern music like the gamelan from Indonesia. The two pieces from Debussy that I will be performing as part of the recital kind of explores how that influence manifested in Debussy’s music.”

After performing the pieces by Debussy, Chelsea will look into how Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu was influenced by Debussy and how he combines his Japanese heritage with western influence to write western piano music. Following this, she will be focusing on two composers of Indian origin — British-Indian composer Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji and Indian-American composer Reena Esmail. “I am comparing and contrasting how even though both of them are of Indian origin, they have very different approaches to their Indian heritage. So, Sorabji was living in the first half of the 20th century and his approach is quite oriental. He did not actually live in India, so he used to explore India through the vantage point of a western lense. He had a very exotic, sensual image of India which comes across in his music; and on the other hand you have Reena, who studied western classical and hindustani classical music. So, her pieces actively engage with the raag.

<em>Chelsea de Souza</em>
Chelsea de Souza

Sharing her thoughts on how she picked the artistes whose works she will perform, the pianist says, “It is very funny because I never actually thought which artiste I would pick. I had played these two works by Debussy before and I had played the works of Sorabji. This idea of influence suddenly came to me and I was very interested to work with pieces — that like Debussy — were influenced by Eastern sounds and I already knew about Takemitsu even though I had not played his work before. I knew he was influenced by Debussy too. I read and researched about these interactions and that sparked the idea of the recital. Reena was someone I discovered recently and I went through her musical work and I found that her work complements Sorabji’s pieces because their works deal with ideas such as tropical heat in India but in very different styles.”

“After our performance here in Bengaluru, I will be performing in Mumbai at the National Centre for Performing Arts and then in Pune. Following this, I will be heading off to the US and Chloe will be performing in Pune in July,” concludes Chelsea.

Entry free. June 12, 7 pm (Chloe de Souza’s recital). At Bangalore School of Music, RT Nagar.
Entry free. June 13, 7 pm (Chelsea de Souza’s lecture recital). At BIC, Domlur.

Email: alwin@newindianexpress.com
Twitter: @al_ben_so

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