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French pianist Jean-Frédéric Neuburger: ‘Music is a difficult form, you have to anticipate, feel and understand’

The Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI) has always taken the audience to another level of experience when it comes to international music, genres and aritstes. Jean-Frédéric Neuburger, a gifted pianist of his generation from Paris, promises philharmonic ecstasy to elevate your mind, body, and soul.

Jean along with violinist Sayanka Shoji and cellist Henri Demarquette will be performing Felix Mendel-ssohn’s concert overture The Hebrides at Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI) Autumn 2022 Season at NCPA.

The performance is inspired by the composer’s travels to the Scottish islands and the experiences of there. The Free press Journal caught up with Jean to talk about his Indian concert, illustrious musical repertoire, resolving differences in a team, and his love for Indian classical music.

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The musician began the conversation by talking about his first performance in Pune a few days ago. “I performed at a music school and it was a different experience. I am now looking forward to performing at NCPA, which will be a German romantic music programme.”

The pianist, who will be leading the concert, will also feature as the piano soloist in the Triple Concerto.

He has an illustrious body of work and has travelled across the globe to collaborate with master musicians. Jean has performed with the world’s most prestigious orchestras like New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Philadelphia, London Philharmonic, Paris, Radio France Philharmonic, and Bamberg Symphony among others.

The musician remains unfazed by the success. “It’s a never-ending journey. When I am working I don’t think about anything. I am too involved in it to understand the compositions, the composer’s intentions, and what he wants. Music is a difficult form, you have to anticipate, feel and understand. It’s the way of working as a musician and it’s a continuous process,” he says.

The musician also confesses that his diverse collaborations with musicians across the world have helped him experiment with his craft in myriad ways.

“It’s very interesting. Being a musician you meet a lot of other creative minds and you learn a lot from their diverse expertise. You learn about other musicians’ ideas, techniques, and ways of working. It’s an opportunity to learn from different musicians,” Jean insists.

How much do awards and recognition matter to you? “It’s important and something very natural. Awards are a response to how we worked to deserve them. The main thing is not only to deserve them but what are you doing on each step to deserve them. You have to try something new every time,” believes the musician.

Known for his unique artistic versatility and extensive repertoire, Jean, being the conductor of the concert, shoulders a huge responsibility for the performance’s success. When working with a huge team, there are creative differences that are bound to happen.

Sharing his take on it, he says, “You have a risk to make people do their best when you are working together. It is a matter of the energy you give. And you have to do it smartly (laughs). I do that. Of course, there are good days and bad days but you have to bring that energy to inspire people to give the very best that they can.”

The musician further expresses that despite having performed on multiple platforms he still feels nervous before any performance. “It’s normal to feel nervous. It’s a matter to remember that you are there to share some experience with the audience and they are there to enjoy. If you focus on the fact that music needs to be enjoyed, then I think, I feel a bit relaxed,” confesses the musician.

The last few years have seen immense creative collaborations between Indian and international musicians. When we ask Jean about his plans for collaborations with Indian musicians, he nods in positive. “I haven’t collaborated with any Indian musicians. I would like to meet and discuss music with Indian classical musicians and musicians in general. I have read a lot about Indian music and it is very rich. I listen to classical and contemporary music,” the pianist signs off. 

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