'I love to work with composers'

'I love to work with composers'

Rahel Schweizer finds every inch of India very fascinating. The Switzerland-based harpist, who is a visiting faculty at the Bangalore School of Music, performed at the ‘15th EastWest Music & Dance Encounter’.

Having  managed to gather a lot of information about Bengaluru, she is impressed about the fact that most people here are well informed about music. Rahel also observes that people here are eager to know more about classical music and musicians from the West and says she was bowled over  by the response she got for her performance.  In an interview with Nina C George, Rahel talks about her tryst with the harp.  

Is this your first visit to India?
This is my first visit to India and I was overwhelmed by the warmth I received from people here. There were so many people who told me that it is the first time that they ever watched someone play a harp. And they were also very curious about the instrument.

What inspired you to learn the harp?
I grew up in a small village in Zurich and was only seven years when I began learning the instrument. I began by learning the piano but quickly switched to learning the harp.  after I listened to the music of Andreas Vollenweider, a popular Swiss harpist of the 1980s. He is a classical harpist who has experimented a great deal with the instrument and created new tunes.

A bit about your style of playing the harp...
I use a French technique which has a tradition of about 100 years. I stick to the classical mode of playing the instrument. I am interested in contemporary classical music and eager to collaborate with singers, writers and composers, to make good music. I love to work with composers.

Did you learn anything from India?
I am not only sharing my knowledge and technique in classical music with people here but also understanding what comprises Indian ‘ragas’. I am also learning the working of such ‘ragas’. It has been a fruitful experience so far.

Is your field a competitive one?
It depends on what you want to do. If you want to be a soloist and participate in big concerts, then yes, there is a lot of competition. You have to be super talented to stand out in the crowd. If you want to get into an orchestra, then there are several rounds of tough auditions that you have to get through.

Your thoughts about Bengaluru?  
I read about Bengaluru and its history before coming here. I would like to visit the Bangalore Palace and Commercial Street before I leave. Last week, when I had sometime, I managed to go to Chickpet and spend about three hours there. I travelled by bus which was quite an adventurous experience because most of the most the time I found the driver yelling at people to either get into the bus or get out of it. I bought some silk fabric and want to find a tailor who can make me a ‘kurta’.     

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