Cuban musician makes Delhiites groove to her tune

Yilian Cañizares, the Swiss-Cuban artist who recently performed for the first time in India, loves the beats of Bollywood music and has trained in Indian vocal percussion.

art and culture Updated: Apr 26, 2017 18:25 IST
Henna Rakheja
Henna Rakheja
Hindustan Times
Cuban,Music,Yilian Cañizares
Yilian Cañizares, Swiss-Cuban musician.

They say that the voice of some is music to the ears, and that’s certainly true for Yilian Cañizares. The Swiss-Cuban musician has just made her live performance debut in India with a show in Delhi. “I’m very excited right now. It’s like a dream for me,” she told us, speaking right before the Wednesday night event at the India International Centre. “I couldn’t wait to meet the Indian audience and to enjoy your beautiful country. I would also like to learn as much as possible about Indian culture.”

Presented by the Swiss Arts Council, her performance had Cuban as well as other influences. “Yes, my cultural roots are Cuban,” said Cañizares, “but I also had a solid classical training from an early age. I studied in Cuba with a Russian teacher and later on, I had the chance to pursue my musical studies outside of Cuba, in Venezuela and in Europe. Through these experiences, I was in contact with other cultural traditions and with new ways of thinking, of living and making music. This gave me a different perspective and a different approach to music. I’ve been bringing all these approaches to playing and to my singing skills. So everything has become very multicultural. For me, music knows no borders!”

Cañizares likes Indian music, too; more than that, she has had some solid training in it. “I [have] studied one year of Indian vocal percussion, learning some basics of Konokol, some basic Tihai and some Muktayam. I was really fascinated by these amazing traditions, which are beautiful and very complex at the same time. I also have a lot of admiration for (Indian percussionist) Trilok Gurtu’s work. I hope I would meet him one day,” she said.

Any talk of Indian music cannot be complete without a reference to Hindi film music, which has been enriched by some of the most outstanding composers in the world. Cañizares said, “I’ve heard a little of Hindi movie music and I like it, especially because of the groove this music has. We Cubans, we love groove and we love to dance! If given a chance to sing for Hindi films, I would absolutely say yes. I think it would be a very enjoyable experience.”

What does she hope from Indian audiences? She replied, “I believe Indian music lovers are very open. I know I will have a high quality audience in India, so I hope they have liked my musical universe till now. I would love to have some contact with Indian violinists, because you have a very specific and beautiful way of playing this instrument in your country.”

First Published: Feb 16, 2017 21:20 IST