A band for the ages

Jan 07, 2019, 08:00 IST | Shunashir Sen

A brand new outfit with musicians as young as 12 will play their debut gig this weekend

A band for the ages
Aalia, Naima and Nisha of The Ramakrishnan Trio at their rehearsal space

The stage at The Secret Garden, a recently launched venue at NCPA, is going to get mighty packed this weekend. The Whole Notes, a fresh new musical outfit with 11 artistes, is going to play their debut gig. And the curious thing about this band is that along with members who are in their 20s — the oldest of the lot, Danesh AR Khambat, is 32 — there are four girls who are as young as 12, 13 and 15 years of age.

They are The Ramakrishnan Trio — consisting of violinist Aaliya, pianist Nisha and cellist Naima, who are sisters — and viola player Aliza Jetha, their friend. Each of them has been playing her own instrument for almost a decade now (Jetha first picked up the viola when she was two). So, if you were to think that their lack of years is a hindrance to their musical prowess, you would possibly be judging a book by its cover.

Aaliya, for instance, is the first violinist and concert master of the children's orchestra at the NCPA. She was also the first of the three siblings to enter the world of music. "I think my twins, Nisha and Naima, saw the elder sister and they also seemed to react a lot to music. Nisha decided from the beginning that she wants to learn the piano. And from the time that she was three she kept asking me, 'Have you found me a piano teacher?' So finally when she was five I found her one," says Shabnam Minwalla, their mother, adding that Naima initially started learning the violin, but since she didn't quite find it to be her cup of tea, she switched to the cello after a while, meaning a large instrument was being played with tiny hands.

Naquita D'Souza
Naquita D'Souza

Their education has largely been based on classical music. But how has being immersed in an instrument helped them evolve as human beings? "You know, when they are stressed and unhappy about something, they immediately go and play, and I can sense that that calms them down. Music gives them a sense of purpose. And children nowadays are anyway so academically oriented that I think it's great to have one more thing that you can lose yourself in. So in a way music gives them a holistic feeling that there's more to life than half mark here or one mark there," Shabnam says.

She also points out that the more time the three have spent with older musicians, the more their horizons have broadened, to now include genres like rock and pop. And that's what they will be playing at the concert this weekend. Naquita D'Souza, who is also part of The Whole Notes, reveals that the line-up will involve a fun mix of songs by old-school artistes like Prince and The Beatles, and modern ones like Adele.

And when asked what it's like sharing the stage with such young children, D'Souza reveals that while the older lot have had five rehearsals together, they haven't had a chance to jam with the teenagers yet. "But the point is that I don't think their age matters. In fact, I feel that there are a lot of young kids in the industry who are way above their years. Talent is something you either have or you don't," says the 25-year-old singer who first went up on stage when she was three years old, proving that age really doesn't matter at all.

On January 12, 7.30 pm
At NCPA, Nariman Point.
Call 66223724
Entry Rs 1,000

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