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Village boy from Palakkad climbs the music ladder

"I thought of some solo performances - contemporary yet inspired by classics"



Stephen Devassy PHOTO: V. GANESAN

The 23-year-old "village boy" from Palakkad came to Chennai with a keyboard, a handful of money and a dream --to perform the music he has composed. Getting ready to travel with singer Hariharan, accompanying him on his European tour with his keyboard, Stephen Devassy who is flying high with all the "Wows and Wah Wahs" for "arranging music on the keyboard," speaks to Swahilya about his passion for music.

I didn't want to be just a college boy," said Stephen who was learning to play the keyboard with violinist Leslie Peter. Joining the Chetana Music Academy, affiliated to The Trinity College of Music, London, he completed VIII Grade with a high score of 92 per cent. Music is now his profession.

His first chance to play for Hariharan on his tour of Europe was a big experience, says Stephen. "My mind opened up. I began seeing good musicians and it made me learn my western classical music better," he says. Explaining his work on the keyboard, he says it is primarily about arranging several types of music. "This enriches and fills up the space in a song." The music these days is programmed with live recordings for instruments such as flute and nadaswaram and vocals.

With some hard work and luck, he got a programming keyboard. "Going with Hariji to the U.S., Canada, Paris, Germany, Belgium, Rome, South Africa, Middle East was a great experience. I thought of some solo performances -- contemporary yet inspired by classics," says this shy youngster who remembers the day he played before the late Pope John Paul II in Toronto on World Youth Day where a million people had gathered. It was a great opportunity to be on stage. He has also accompanied the violin maestro L. Subramanian at the Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival. His first solo piano was in an album released by the Rex Band, a popular Gospel Rock Band. Then came the offer for doing a film - `Hariharan Pilla Happy Anu' -- starring Mohanlal in 2004.

He entered the Chennai music scene with the Sacred Chants of Kosmic Music, which has now released five volumes. With Sanskrit slokas, mantras and verses from the Upanishads, Sacred Chants is set to a background of western music. He is now trying a new instrumental album. It will have a mix of world music, sprinkled with the flavour of real piano, a song sung by Hariharan and the other by Karthik, the playback singer.

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