Teenage pianist Milen Manoj Earath to perform in Mumbai

Apr 25, 2017, 10:38 IST | Snigdha Hasan

Milen Manoj EarathMilen Manoj Earath

At 15 years, many teenagers are still in the process of testing the waters before zeroing in on a definite career path. But when Milen Manoj Earath says he wants to be a concert pianist, he knows what he is talking about. The youngest Indian (at 14 years, three months) to complete a FTCL in pianoforte - a course offered by Trinity College, London, which is equivalent to post-graduation - he received the National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement in the field of music from President Pranab Mukherjee in November 2016. The musical prodigy is all set to travel to Mumbai from his hometown of Thrissur, Kerala, for his first large-scale solo recital in India.

President Pranab Mukherjee awards Milen Manoj Earath
President Pranab Mukherjee awards Milen Manoj Earath

Honing young talent
"I liked music from a very young age and was introduced to Western Classical music by my parents, who are both doctors," says Milen, who has recently finished his Class 10 exams. With an early interest in sports, along with winning prizes in elocution and storytelling in primary school, Milen saw the grand piano for the first time when he visited his grandparents in Russia. Milen’s mother, Alena Vladimirovna Earath, is Russian, who took him to a music school for a programme. "Milen got attached to the piano, and began learning Beethoven’s Marmot and Fur Elise, the two pieces he had heard the children play there. By the end of two weeks, he was playing them effortlessly," recalls Milen’s father Dr Manoj Earath.

Milen Manoj Earath with Professor Heribert Koch
Milen Manoj Earath with Professor Heribert Koch 

On his return to India, Milen began his formal training in piano in Thrissur and soon started the initial grade at Trinity College. Within a year and a half, he had finished all eight grades in pianoforte with distinction and cleared the two levels of examination before his FTCL with equal ease.

The young pianist’s breakthrough moment came when he won Musiquest in Pune in 2013. An all-India piano competition, he won the first place in the advanced division for ages up to 25 years. Soon, he was invited for personal classes with Professor Heribert Koch, president of European Piano Teachers’ Association Germany, who continues to teach him when Milen travels to Germany during his school vacations, and otherwise guides him through Skype.

Being just 15
At the recital in Mumbai, he will play Gaspard de la nuit by Maurice Ravel and Islamey op 18 by Mily Balakirev among other pieces by Tchaikovsky, Chopin and Beethoven. Milen has been practising for eight to nine hours daily. So, how does he manage academics with his passion? "My school has been supportive. I am allowed to come home an hour earlier, so I can focus on my piano practice," Milen shares.

Staying motivated in a country where learning Western Classical music isn’t common comes with its challenges, but that hasn’t deterred Milen, who uses the Internet to keep himself updated. "When I play a piece of Classical music on the piano, I am often asked which film it is from," smiles Milen. "But then I share other interests with people of my age like playing football and listening to modern songs."

ON: April 28, 7 pm
AT: Experimental Theatre, NCPA.
ENTRY: Rs 300

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