Florine Roche
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru
Pics: Vivek Sequeira

Mangaluru, Jul 20: In 2014 when renowned music director and concert conductor of Indian Origin Zubin Mehta was conferred the Global NRI of the year special jury award instituted by Times Now Channel belonging to the Times of India group, Rhys Concessao was just a 11 year old fervent pianist, Rhys, a UK based NRI, a child prodigy born to Mangalurean parents Nisha and Roshan Concessao, who got scholarship from the top specialist music school of UK, “The Purcell School for Young Musicians” at a young age of 11, is quite elated to follow in the footsteps of his idol Zubin Mehta and win the Global NRI of the year award for Academics in 2017, at a young age of 14. Naturally he is quite thrilled on winning the award and says “I am honoured and privileged to win the Global NRI of the year award, which my idol had won 2014 and I am looking forward for an opportunity to play with him in the near future”.

 

 

 

 

“Catch them young” the phrase seems to have worked wonders for Rhys who began his musical journey at the tender age of 5. When other children of his age were playing with toys for Rhys piano was the toy which he put to good use. The upshot of this passion has been quite rewarding bringing him into the center stage of international fame. Of course he wears his crown of success with equal ease and his quite poised for his young age. It was quite interesting to watch this 14 year old teenager who still has the childlike smirk on his face when he speaks or even when he squabbles with his younger sibling to play a game on the mobile or watch something on the phone during lunch at the Grand Hyatt in Mumbai, during the recent award ceremony of Global NRI of the year.

Ears for Music

It was Nisha who was instrumental in his initiation into the wonderful world of Piano. Nisha used to take Rhys along with her when she was attending Piano classes as a hobby as Rhys was young and there wasn’t anyone to babysit him. Though he was playing around when she was learning, over a period of time he began to hum everything Nisha was taught. “It was piano teacher Sally Rose who realized that Rhys has ears for music when he began to hum what she was learning and offered to give him lessons. Rhys began to enjoy his classes and also developed a proclivity for classical music. What began as a hobby for me became a passion for Rhys and from then onwards there has been no stopping him from reaching higher goals”, says the proud mother.

His father Roshan plays the perfect role of behind the scene mentor keeping a tab on his schedules as Rhys gets lot of requests to perform which requires extensive travelling and planning of schedules systematically so that there is no clash of dates of performances. Moreover travelling with Rhys is a major responsibility handled by Roshan. Nisha is a working professional and naturally she and Roshan share the responsibility of coping with the responsibility that comes in helping their children pursuing their passion.

Rhys gives a measured response when I asked him in Mumbai where he was present along with his parents and younger brother to receive the award on how he felt winning the Global NRI of the year award. “I understand I am the youngest to win this award and it is a great honour to have won the Times Now NRI of the Year Award 2017. Times Network is available in over 100 countries and in multiple mediums and naturally it provides a larger platform to reach out to people. Being the Music Ambassador of the Lang International Music Foundation this platform helps me to promote western classical music in India and abroad”, says this young achiever without mincing words.

Though just 14, Rhys exhibits maturity beyond his age and looks quite studious about his passion –playing piano and is keen to make it his profession than just a hobby. His passion has made him a child phenomenon winning accolades and recognition, in the process making him an international celebrity. He has participated in several international competitions, music festivals, piano recitals and international music course spread across different continents like America, Europe and Asia. Rhys is also a scholar at the Sir Elton John Scholar at the Royal Academy of Music UK. He has given numerous solo recitals and also plays the drums.

Child Prodigy

Awards and recognitions have been pouring in ever since he made his debut at the age of 8 when he gave a solo performance at the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, after an intensive International summer music course at The Purcell School. He has also performed at Whitley Hall, Chethams, Manchester, in the presence of prominent pianists. At age 10, he was conferred with the Most Distinguished Pianist Award and the Young Talent Encouragement - Special Mention Award at the IBLA Grand Prize International Competition, Sicily, and Italy and followed it up with EPTA award at the age of 11. At 12, he was selected as the Music Ambassador by the Lang Lang International Music Foundation and performed with International Concert Pianist Lang Lang at the Allianz Junior Music Camp at Teatr Polski in Warsaw, Poland. He has given numerous solo recitals and is also fond of playing the drums. At 13 years he won the 22ndEvangeliaTjiarri International Piano competition, Cyprus category A under 15 years. At 14, he won the Award for Young Musicians, the Robert Lewin Scholarship and followed it up with the Global NRI of the Year 2017 award.

Despite his prodigious talent and commendable achievements this youngster, leads a normal life like any other teenager of his age balancing his academics and music. “I enjoy reading, cycling and listening to music”, he says with an unfeigned smile. He also enjoys little skirmishes with his younger brother Revin who is into learning Violin. As Nisha puts “they often try to defend the supremacy of their respective choice of instruments – Piano vs Violin and both have enough arguments to claim why Piano is better than Violin and vice versa. However, they both know these arguments are just for the sake of arguments”. 8 year old Revin is also moving in the footsteps of his brother and has been showing tremendous potential as a violinist to be watched.

Giving time and attention

Music is something which calls for lot of practice and Rhys follows his ritual religiously. Roshan points out “he doesn’t like to get up from his piano when he practices and most often than not Nisha has a tough time inviting him to the dining table. He is very particular about practicing regularly apart from attending his music classes”. For both Nisha and Roshan the reward for their hard work is in the form of enjoying some mellifluous tunes when both children practice either in their respective rooms or practice together.

Rhys’s favourite pianists at the moment are Daniel Barenboim, Evgeny Kissin, Ingolf Wunder and Lang Lang. He asserts “Láng Lang has this innate personality and charisma to reach out and influence any person from a child to an avid classical music lover. He is very approachable and one can feel extremely comfortable when meeting him personally and even more during his performance. He is doing a wonderful job of inspiring and promoting classical music especially among the younger generation. Daniel Barenboim is a legend and his interpretation of musical pieces is fantastic. Evgeny Kissin has got a style of his own and I had the privilege of meeting him. Both Barenboim and Kissin have a big influence on me when it comes to interpreting a piece. Recently I have been listening to Ingolf Wunder and I absolutely enjoy his interpretation of Chopin. In terms of musicianship, I am greatly inspired by the concerts conducted by Maestro Zubin Metha, as he is one of the few Indian western classical musicians who have risen to greater heights as a conductor. I have also visited A R Rahman's school in Chennai and I feel he is doing a great job of nurturing young talents in India”.

It looks like there is no stopping of Rhys Concessao from achieving greater heights considering the time and attention he gives to perfect his talent. With his passion of playing Piano becoming a profession one can say sky is the limit to this gifted teenager.