Pune's pianist trio win accolades abroad

Alique Khambhatta, Azriela Maben and Shreyas Narayan, students of Pune-based Academy of Music, won international trio competition in Germany. They speak about their experiences…

Allowing your child’s creativity to grow is very vital and that is exactly what is happening at the Academy of Music run by Roxana Anklesaria Doctor. Here, one can find passionate pianists learning to fall in love with the piano. And three of their talented young pianists have won prizes and accolades abroad. Alique Khambhatta, Azriela Maben and Shreyas Narayan had gone to attend the Bayerische Musikakademie (Bavarian Piano Academy, Marktoberdorf, Germany) and have won the International Trio Competition, on May 2, 2014.
Their journey started at the MusiQuest 2013. This national-level piano festival or competition is held every year at the academy and conducted by them. This competition saw Alique and Azriela win the Intermediate division ensemble prize while Shreyas became the junior division ensemble prize winner. This also meant that they got full scholarships, awarded by adjudicators Tomislav Baynov and Dororthy Uytengsu, to go participate in the international ensemble camp. And it is here that they entered as Indie Trio in the age 11 group.
12-year-old Alique is a student of Symbiosis International School and gives credit to her grandmother for introducing her to the piano. “She herself was a piano teacher and took me to meet my teacher when I was 5 years old. I started loving music even before I started playing. We had an old piano in our house and I was just plonk near it and play.” Azriela, on the other hand, was always in love with the instrument. This 11-year-old from Hutchings High School was aged 5 when her parents decided she should enroll in a class. “We went on the net to search for a teacher. Then, we came to know about Roxana ma’am who was the best. We went to meet and then decided to get myself admitted in her academy.” The youngest of the trio, seven-year-old Shreyas also wanted to learn piano from the start. “I want to be a big composer and want to make a career in it.” The young one is a student of class III at Bishops High School.
When all three got a chance to go to Germany for the competition via the scholarships, all three were gung-ho about it. Alique played some oriental pieces from the Baroque era, modern and romantic pieces. “It was a different level of competition with some amazing experiences. When I went there, I realised that our teacher puts in a lot of artistic things in our competitions. At the international competition, it was much simpler. Initially, we panicked after seeing the competitors. Finally, we said we must go out and win. We played our best. The next group played well too but their pieces were not great.” Alique credits this fearless spirit to her teacher as the academy student was always made to play in public for gaining exposure. “At the international competition, we learned a lot about techniques like playing with firm fingers and a lot more.”
Azriela played three pieces – a 21st century piece by Rachmaninoff called Romance, part romantic piece called Secret and a contemporary piece called Outstanding. “I played well. We were competing against the Bulgarians and there was a tie. When we went, we learnt a different experience of playing and the dynamics of it.” Shreyas was the youngest participant, ofcourse. He participated in the solo duet section where dynamics and articulation was judged at. “But I felt my competitors were better than me and they felt I was better than them.”
While Shreyas firmly told that piano is his future, Azriela too said that her inclination is towards taking it up professionally. Alique pronounced, “I want to be a concert pianist but my parents think otherwise.” Well, winning the international competition is some start for the trio.