'The piano is very personal to me'

Belgian connect

'The piano is very personal to me'
Growing up, Aveline Gram wanted to do everything her brother did. Little did she know that learning the piano, just because her brother was doing so, would shape her future. At the age of six, she took to the instrument and started learning the musical notes with her mother.

Soon enough, she enrolled for classes and has never stopped learning. It’s been 20 years now and the Belgian has come to the city as part of her first Indian concert tour to showcase her musical talent at Bangalore School of Music. She chats with Anila Kurian about her journey so far.

You’ve been in India for a few months now. Was the  tour your main agenda? 
I booked a one-way ticket to India last October as I wanted to backpack across the country. That’s when I was introduced to Prabhudas Ivanson (EPTA India Associates), and he encouraged me to go on a concert tour and showcase my love for the piano.

Which are the other cities you’re travelling to?
I’ve already been to New Delhi, Mumbai and done two shows in Goa and Bengaluru. I still have Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur to go to.

Did you have any interesting experiences while on tour?
When I was preparing for the tour, I realised it was hard to find a piano in India. Many musicians use a keyboard; very few have even seen this  instrument! Thankfully I found one in Kerala and that helped me practice with my team.

A misconception people have about pianists?
I wouldn’t know much to comment about Indians as I am new here. But as I said earlier, many haven’t seen what a real piano is like. The concept of western classical music is also new to many Indians. But I appreciate that they are open to learning about it and many are willing to explore it further.

What about in Europe then? 
Many Europeans think that western classical music is for the older generation. There’s a general perception that youngsters don’t enjoy this type of music, but funnily, I have met many youngsters who love this genre. But we should realise that this is not something you listen to as background music in a cafe. It requires attention and one should be willing to explore this musical world.

Any musicians you’ve been influenced by?
The piano is very personal to me. It’s important to follow my instincts while playing. But I do listen to other musicians and try to understand their approach and compare it with mine.

Your thoughts on India?
I love it! I love how everything is diverse here. There are so many new things to explore. I enjoy the food and the  clothes and the people here are very understanding and welcoming. They make sure that the guests are treated well even if they have to adjust themselves. I find that very humbling.

Your favourite place so far?
It has to be Kerala. I feel at home there. The coconut trees, the greenery and the water — so magical!

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