Famed pianist admires Bengaluru audiences

Karl Lutchmayer says India must get a conservatory

Karl LutchmayerImage courtesy: Artist

Karl Lutchmayer has many feathers in his cap — globally-renowned pianist, lecturer, educator, orator, writer and much more. While his lecture-recital series, ‘Conversational Concerts’, continues to garner critical and public acclaim, he is busy touring continents to give recitals.

 A prominent figure in the field of public music appreciation, he gives pre-concert talks and has contributed articles to numerous magazines and books. He has also given over 90 world premieres. 

Recently in Bengaluru to perform at The Bangalore Club as part of the Club’s 150th Anniversary celebrations, Karl conducted intensive workshops at The Bangalore School of Music with Nic Pendlebury.

Rajitha Menon caught up with him for a quick musical tête-à-tête.  

Did you envisage a career in music from the start?

Until my teenage years, my parents were keen on me becoming a barrister, though I always thought I would end up as an event manager. However, my first love was ballet which I studied from the age of three.  I also took riding lessons, gymnastics, swimming and did a lot of cycling. I started playing the piano only from the age of seven. It was only by the age of 10-11 that I started to focus more on music. 

What are the requirements to be a good pianist?

Many things are needed to become a professional pianist of a certain standing, but for me, most important is hard work — with that anybody can achieve anything. An excellent teacher and mentor who has performed extensively and understands the art form and its practicalities is also essential. One needs to be curious and sensitive, yet strong enough to cope with all the difficulties and criticism. 

Thoughts about Bengaluru as an emerging Western music hub...

There is a growing talent pool and emerging audience space here. I have been coming to this city every year for many years and have seen it evolve as a hub for Western classical music. About 10 years ago, going abroad to study music was unthinkable; but the numbers are increasing steadily over the years. More and more people are now going to London to study music and then coming back to popularise the same.  

Are there many takers for western classical music here?

People here are very open-minded when it comes to music. I would have expected such a thriving audience space only in places like London, with a 300-year history of public concerts. In Bengaluru, we have a scope to do a lot more, with the well-educated, well-informed and highly appreciative audience we have here. 

What more can be done to encourage students to turn towards music?

India is the only major country that has no degree-awarding music conservatoire. London alone has four major conservatoires. However, now that there is such a large appetite for music study, schools such as The BSM do their best with limited resources to provide for that need. But very few teachers are qualified to degree level, let alone beyond. This needs to change.

The government should change the visa rules to allow foreign teachers to come in without the $25,000 rule. A conservatory is needed to kickstart professional western music training in India.

Most importantly, India has to get over its mindset that every child has to be a doctor, engineer or businessman. 

 

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