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THE HAUNTING MELODIES OF YOUTH

The Yuva Music Festival 2014, a monumental undertaking that spanned 53 days, was the result of the extraordinary vision and dedication of Surendrenath Majumdar, who is the founder-director of the AME Academy of Musical Excellence. It concluded in a grand finale at the ICCR, from August 2-5. The festival promoted and encouraged the development and nurture of musical talent among the youth of the city of Calcutta; the final concert featured Kanishka Saha (picture), the gifted young student of Majumdar.

Kanishka’s repertoire — an ambitious one for someone who is 13 years old — consisted of Chopin — three valses, two mazurkas, two Nocturnes, and the Revolutionary Étude — and Franz Liszt — the Liebestraume, the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12, concluding with the Étude No. 3, La Campanella from the Grand Paganini Études. His performance and execution of these works bore testimony to the teaching skills of his mentor. Audiences shall surely watch out for this little pianist, who hopes to participate in the International Franz Liszt Competition for young pianists in Weimar, Germany. His recitals at various venues of the Yuva Festival have already been received enthusiastically by discerning audiences.

Closely following this was a delightful — and much too short — recital by the American pianist, Jennifer Heemstra, whose clear and articulate introduction and comments on each of the works she performed were in keeping with the educational purpose of the festival. Heemstra is an accomplished and sensitive pianist. She began with Claude Debussy’s Estampes — the three sections were interpreted with delicacy, power and narrative intensity.

Following this was Enrique Granados’s Allegro de Concierto, Opus 46, and George Gershwin’s “Embraceable You”, as well as a Gershwin medley consisting of “Funny Face”, “’S Wonderful”, “Fascinating Rhythm”, “The Half of It, Dearie, Blues” and “Do-Do-Do”. Heemstra’s closing piece was the haunting “Over the Rainbow” by Harold Arland. Heemstra will be residing in Calcutta for some time, and one hopes to hear much more of her in recital.

In the spirit of honouring artists of Western music in Calcutta, lifetime achievement awards were presented to Carlton Kitto, Don Saigal and Rubin Rubeiro.