Meet the 11-year-old pianist

Chennai’s 11-year-old Jacob Samuel is a musical prodigy, who will soon be performing in Mumbai as part of a young talent concert (for Western music) that will be organised by NCPA

When we speak to Jacob Samuel over the phone lines from Chennai, he sounds like any other 11-year-old. "I love cycling and football," he says, adding quickly, "Music is God’s gift to me." We’ll believe. After all, his father tells us that when Jacob was barely two years old, he showed interest in observing him when playing the keyboard, and began to play music on his own, which was unusual for a young child.

Pianist Jacob Samuel loves his Beethoven as much as his football
Pianist Jacob Samuel loves his Beethoven as much as his football

Jerry George, Jacob’s father, plays the organ in church and his mother sings, but neither of the two had taken to music professionally. Astonishingly, in a short time, the prodigy had started reproducing, on his own, the tunes based on music that he was exposed to. When he was just four, he was able to play a complete song before an audience. By the time he was five, he completed his Grade 1 and when he was six, he completed Grade 4 in piano from the Trinity College of Music, London. "We had been looking for a teacher ever since he was two but most people were rigid and could not bring out the best in him. Finally, when he was seven, we heard of AR Rahman’s music school, KM Conservatory," shares George.

As a nine-year-old, winning a prize
As a nine-year-old, winning a prize

Now, Samuel is 11 years old, and is professionally trained in Western Classical Piano at KM Conservatory, Chennai, under the able guidance of Dr Surojeet Chatterji. "One has to introduce an interpretive concept before him and he already seems to know and feel the conclusion. His instinct and intuition in music is simply rare and extraordinary," says Chatterji about his youngest student.

At Steinway & Sons, London, when he was 10 years old
At Steinway & Sons, London, when he was 10 years old

Samuel is also a part of a four-member band called We Take Off. Jacob’s younger brother Jonathan, who is seven years old, is the band’s drummer. The band also has a flautist and a percussionist, all in the same age group. "They are very talented children and have performed in India as well as internationally. They tie up with NGOs and donate the proceeds of their concerts for the aid of terminally ill children among other things," explains George.

"We want him to take up music as a full-time career. Currently, he manages music school, academics and play time, and it gets too much, at times. But we would like him to focus in his music," he concludes.

On: August 6, 7 pm onwards
At: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.
Call: 66223724
Log on to: to listen to a few of his performances

Some of Samuel's past achievements

>> In 2014, Samuel was awarded full scholarship to participate in the three-week (from July 20-August 10), Summit Music Festival program at Manhattanville College, New York, USA.

>> He has performed for the BBC and Scotland music conservatory delegates and was interviewed by BBC.

>> In 2010, he was invited as a guest performer for the award winning function conducted by Musee Musicals, Chennai, under the category ‘Youngest candidate appeared for the highest grade’.

About the Young Talent Concert
After performing at many prestigious national as well as international concerts, Jacob will soon be performing in Mumbai. The concert, in association with the Stop Gaps Cultural Academy will witness pianists like Alina Guha, Darshika Rai, Devika Madgavkar, Joshuwa Gomes, Sarantha Danielle Correa, Suhani Yadav, Suhas Dara, and violinists Samyuktha Thiagarajan and Joson Josh M Henriques. These young musicians will entertain the audience with a selection of Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Clementi, Paderewski, Paganini, Badarzewska-Baranowska and Rachmaninoff, among others.

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