The master of all scales
By Mrinalini Sundar
29th July 2012 12:00 AM
What connects Riccardo Carlotto and our international musical genius, A R Rahman? Well, Carlotto (now Pushkar ) is based in Puducherry and has played a significant role in Rahman’s multidisciplinary music school — K M Music Conservatory. A pianist, composer and singer, he has been associated with several music schools in India and also performs abroad. Happiest in Puducherry, where he resides in a colony amid many neem and papaya trees, Pushkar is one of the three people who shaped the curriculum at the conservatory, when it started in 2008. Since then, the school has groomed artistes like Emon Shaha (Bangladeshi composer) and Kollywood composer Ved Shankar. “I was interested in the concept and when I first met the music maestro, it was a very special moment,” says Pushkar.
Sharing a gift
Currently busy with his classes at home — he has about 15 students — Pushkar plans to perform in Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Bangalore later this year. “I am also working on an introduction to music techniques like understanding the difficulties in playing the piano and solving technical problems for music teachers, at Musee Musical, Chennai and Hyderabad,” adds the 42-year-old composer. Like Rahman, he believes that “music is a gift” that takes inspiration from a greater power. “Rahman always says that music comes from a force which is beyond everything else. In every musician’s life there is a special moment when you feel this connection,” explains Pushkar, who is a teacher of music theory, piano and composition.
The back story
When Pushkar was seven-years-old, his father, a radio technician sent him to Puducherry to be raised by his aunt and uncle. This was because they wanted Pushkar to grow up with his uncle and aunt. For 35 years, Pushkar has called this place his home, having begun learning music at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. He furthered his studies in Spain, studying piano with concertist and jazz pianist J Vilaprinyò, and having sung in the choir, Coral Nit de Juny, directed and conducted by Rita Ferrer. “I began playing the piano myself and later started learning it professionally from teachers in the Ashram. I started teaching music at the age of 18,” says Pushkar, who loves Puducherry for its “calmness and peace that helps to compose music.” He limits his time at the metros only for a workshop or a project and says he loves the rains in India.
Pushkar is also the founding member of Auroville Adults Chorus and the Children’s Choir in Puducherry. Though he is not a strict disciplinarian, he is a perfectionist. “There is a point when an artist knows he has given his best, every student should reach that state with every composition,” says Pushkar. The musician generally performs with his partner and violinist, Ladislav Brozman. “Most of my concerts in India have been with Brozman. We are family friends and know each other from childhood. We have composed several songs together,” says Pushkar.
Pushkar has learnt Carnatic music and knows his ragas and taalas. Like most musicians in awe of India, he has tried to play them on his piano. “As part of my musicology course, I did learn the basics. I also learnt a little bit of violin from L Subramaniam,” says Pushkar, who believes that music is the result of many influences. “I am a composer and my music is influenced by music around the world, in Japan, China, US and parts of Europe. If you research carefully, you will agree that even Beethoven’s Symphony was influenced by the Upanishads,” he says.
A multi-faceted artiste, Pushkar is working on a “melodious” album inspired by India. “It will focus on the culture and traditions of India through my eyes. India is one country that is very spiritual and I love that,” says Pushkar, adding that, “In the future, as the world gets more connected and frontiers melt, different styles will merge into one big form.”
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