Jennifer Heemstra serves up some cool classical tunes

  • Published 8.02.18
Jennifer Heemstra

Pianist Jennifer Heemstra wowed the audience with some classical music on January 16 at the new Goethe-Institut/ Max Mueller Bhavan building on Park Street as part of Calcutta Rhapsody presented by Kolkata Classics Club in association with t2. Heemstra, and cellists Carrie Pierce and Mac Wyn, started off the performance with Oblivion, before moving on to pieces like Pampeana No. 2 and Gabriel’s Oboe. “Carrie, Mac and I felt the energy of the crowd careening over us on stage. I really enjoy performing for the audiences in Calcutta,” said Jennifer. t2 caught up with her.

Heemstra with cellists Carrie Pierce and Mac Wyn

What is your view on the classical music scene?

I believe that classical music needs to go back to its roots. When these pieces were written they were the rock music of the time; the musicians who toured Europe had groupies, stage shows and entertained the masses. Classical music is awesome music... we must break down the barrier between the audience and performer, connect with people and use every tool we have to put on a great show!

What constitutes a good performance?

A performance that touches the audience and awakens something in them.

Going into a concert, people should have an element of education on classical music in order to truly enjoy it — true or false?

False... you should come to every concert with an open mind.  Listen for what you like, what touches you and take away something precious, a gift from the performers to you.  

Where is your dream place to perform?

I have wanted to perform in the Marble Palace (in Calcutta) ever since I first visited it. Such a great venue but the time has never seemed right.

What kind of music do you enjoy besides classical?

I really like 1980s rock and dance music. Also, I have great respect for Beyonce.

What is the hardest part about being a musician?

Having to do it all at the same time.  Being a musician today not only means practising long hours, you also need to be savvy with social media, leap logistical hurdles in a single bound, be comfortable addressing different audiences, all the while travelling country to country. 

Is there anything that surprised you about Calcutta?

The warmth of the city surprises me every time I visit. Just when I think I have plumed the depths of the greatness of this city, I find a new level of warmth and friendship waiting for me. 

How do you feel on stage if you ever make a mistake?

Playing the wrong note just happens and we all do our best to pretend like it was planned. Never let the audience see your mistakes.  Fake it until the end and most of the time no one knows the difference!

Benjamin Wodecki
Pictures: Rashbehari Das