From 'problem child' to prodigy

Sep 02, 2012, 10:42 IST | Kareena Gianani

Rahel Senn, 25 year-old half-Swiss-half-Singaporean, turned to the piano to deal with a difficult childhood. Next week, the award-winning child prodigy performs in Bangalore and tells Kareena N Gianani over email that she feels more understood in music than in any of the seven languages she has learned to speak in

You are often described as an erstwhile ‘problem child’.
I was regarded as a “problem child” (smiles), but I choose to be an artiste. Music just came to me, and I was strangely very attracted to it from a very young age. We became good friends, and that is how everything got started. I believe in fate — and I was destined to be a musician.

When did you start composing music? What was your training like?
Music just came to me and things got started. I studied classical piano at the Conservatory of Lucerne, and was able to compose musicals at 17. Konstantin Lifschitz, my mentor and a very good friend, has his own interpretations of masterpieces that have become classics. He has always encouraged me to find my own musical language. And it was the language of the piano that I connected with.

What drives you as a musician?
The purity and innocence of music is what drives me as a musician. And that is what I continuously want to bring out in my compositions as well. I love to be associated with music in any form and am strangely attracted to it. I listen to all kinds of music. I love rock and pop, also electro and hip-hop (which was long my favourite). I gather inspiration from all of it — and love to compose innovative themes.

Please discuss your process while composing Totaler Wahnsinn! and Sanskaja (award-winning musicals she wrote and composed at the age of 17 and 19, respectively).
My first musical Totaler Wahnsinn! is about schizophrenia, quite a sad piece and an unusual topic for a musical. So the tone in general was slightly melancholic and people found it a little unusual for someone so young. My second musical Sanskaja was more of a joyous affair with the main characters as fairies. It is a quirky fairytale which describes a battle between good and evil. The music is very cheerful and happy. Both musicals were arranged for band and orchestra, and I enjoyed every bit of
the experience.

What will your upcoming tour in India be all about? What are your impressions about the country?
I will perform my entire programme ‘Retour à l’Art Brut’ — that comprises my own compositions and some transcriptions. Retour à l’Art Brut is a mix of easy melodies with some complex pianistic challenges. I have not set any expectations and just want to see how the audience reacts to my music.
I have been fascinated by Indian classical music although I’m still to familiarise myself with names and personalities. I’m getting to learn more about Indian culture and the people.

Rahel Senn will be performing her first concert in India at the Moevenpick Hotel & Spa, Bangalore on September 8 as part of her World Tour 

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