Ukrainian pianist Dinara Klinton is currently on her first visit to India and is all set to perform at Delhi’s Kamani Auditorium on 28 July. The piano virtuoso is in the country for her “Cinema in Concert” project, which will have her present live musical renditions of animated films Magic Piano and The Chopin Shorts, recreating for the audiences the ‘20s era of silent cinema.

On the concept of “Cinema in Concert”, Klinton says, “As we know, film music is an essential part of the whole cinema experience. Music enhances our perception of the virtual world and the emotions projected on the screen. It is known that silent films were often accompanied by piano. The concept of Cinema in Concert is very similar, apart from the fact that in this situation the film was made around the masterpieces of Chopin. Here the screen enhances and completes the story and drama that a pianist communicates through the music, and this way no one, including those who have little experience of listening to Western classical music, is left insensitive.”

Klinton is on a four-city tour—Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bengaluru—in the country and has already performed to a packed house in Mumbai, on 16 and 17 June. On her maiden visit to India, Klinton is trying to gather as many experiences as possible. “It is essential for an artist to get as much experience as possible, which can be put into emotions in music, and my visit to India opened a totally new world for me,” she tells Guardian 20.

A musician needs to take multiple factors into account during a live performance. In Klinton’s case, the important thing to consider is that her music serves as accompaniment to visual scenes being played in the backdrop. “There are quite a lot of things to take care of,” she says. “First, we should remember that it is still a concert performance and make sure that if the video was taken out, the music would make just as huge an impact. Music should always be in the first place—before the pianist or anything else, especially in the case of such wonderful works as the Etudes by Chopin. Then, of course, I should take care about synchronising my playing to the screen—again making sure that if the video wasn’t there it would still sound convincing and natural. It takes some time to train for extra coordination, as there is no time to look at the keyboard much.”

Klinton is a great believer in the idea that music can accompany and enhance any art form. She says, “Many concerts in Europe are organised in museums and galleries adorned with the masterpieces. I remember giving one of such recital at the National Gallery in London. I had to connect my programme to Spanish Renaissance paintings and explain what the connection was. The audience said, ‘It was a magical experience’, as it seemed to them that they were transferred to the events depicted in those paintings. Knowing that those were still images, I believe such feelings can be evoked in an even stronger way with film.”

The present series of concerts marks Klinton’s first experience of playing live music to silent films. “In a way,” she says, “I can probably compare it [this concept] to ballet—not to chamber music or playing with an orchestra, as in those cases it can often be like a musical conversation. Most of ballet music can be played in a concert setup…”

Still from the animated movie Magic Piano.

On recreating the music of the legendary Polish maestro Frederic Chopin, she says, “Chopin surely is one of my most adored composers. I have played a lot of his works and got a special prize as the best semi-finalist of the Chopin competition in Warsaw. His Etudes are like symbols—they are very small but each of them is a huge world in itself. I’m happy that the young audience that attends these concerts will be introduced to this wonderful music, which they are going to love.”

Klinton’s mother, who was a piano teacher in a school at Kharkiv in Ukraine, wasn’t sure about her daughter’s choice of pursuing music professionally. However, she gave in to her daughter’s persistence and commitment. “My mother was a school piano teacher, so we had a piano at home, which I started showing interest in as soon as I was able to stand up. By the age of three, I was able to play back the melodies I heard on TV. And my mother, who wasn’t keen on me becoming a musician, knowing how hard it is, decided to bring me to a special music school for an assessment. I have to say, I was lucky to be born in Kharkiv, as this city has quite serious piano schools, among others, by Regina Horowitz, sister of the famous pianist Vladimir Horowitz. This was, probably, the main reason why my mother decided to try piano education for me.”

On her musical influences, Klinton says, “Emil Gilels, Vladimir Horowitz, Alfred Cortot, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli and Joseph Hofmann are my favourite musicians from the past.” She was also inspired by her mentor Vladimir Krainev, who trained her for years before he passed away in 2011.

Klinton finds Bollywood music quite “impressive”. “It is impressive how colourful Indian music is and how much its rhythms are influenced by dance. If I were to put those rhythms in notation, that would probably take me a while and still wouldn’t be accurate, while they sound so natural and easy to repeat,” she says.

When asked about her future projects, she answers, “For the upcoming seasons I have performances scheduled in the UK, the USA, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Poland and Russia. Those will be more like regular recitals/concerto performances. I have a huge CD recording project on my mind, which will probably take a couple of years to complete, but it will be worth it. I am also very much looking forward to playing in Hamburg’s wonderful Elbphilharmonie for the first time—it will again be the ‘Magic Piano’ project. What is really amazing about it is that it can be taken to any country without fear of a language barrier, as the language of music is international.”

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