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Goans Abroad – featuring Marietta D’Almeida, violinist

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  • Hailing originally from the beautiful village of Assagao in Goa, Marietta D’Almeida, 19, is a young violinist in London. She recently performed an Indowestern remix of ‘Main Tera Boyfriend’ from Raabta at Mastana 2019- East Anglia’s Largest cultural festival, to raise money for Goonj, an Indian Mental health charity. Currently, reading Medicine at Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge, Marietta recounts her musical experiences to exhibit the benefits of music both at an individual and societal level and explains why, even as an aspiring doctor, music remains a cornerstone in her life.

“It all began around the age of 3 when my mother noticed that I could play ‘Happy birthday’ on a toy keyboard and suspected that I had natural musical talent” Marietta D’Almeida recalls. “It was a seemingly small observation at the time that would later manifest itself quite greatly.”

By the age of 5, Marietta began taking violin lessons, inspired by live performances of the violinist Vanessa Mae.  During her childhood, she partook in various music festivals, notably winning the Junior Violin and Viola cup at Sutton Music Festival in 2008. Evidently, one instrument was simply not enough for this young, enthusiastic musician as she also began to learn piano. Years of practice culminated in her receiving her Trinity, London ATCL diploma in violin performance and grade 8 piano. Her performance experience continued to expand, as she performed for charity events and parties, including a Goan Business event at a Michelin starred restaurant, where Keith Vaz MP was guest of honour.

The Fiddler on the stage

Marietta D’Almeida has also been an avid orchestral player from the age of 7, performing with various orchestras in prestigious venues like the Royal Festival Hall, Fairfield Halls and Dorking Halls. She has performed alongside the notable Philharmonia Orchestra, led her school and local orchestras and even performed the solo parts in well-known classical works, like ‘Scherezade’ and ‘Danse Macabre’. “The most enjoyable orchestral performances I’ve done have actually been abroad. We’d draw in audiences of hundreds of people at iconic venues in Berlin, Salzburg and Lisbon and they’d always be very appreciative of our music” she says. In one of her last performances as leader of the Sutton Youth Symphony Orchestra, Marietta did a solo performance of the Portugues Fado ‘Coimbra’ at Ruinas do Carmo as part of Lisbon’s International Music Festival. Her time with Sutton Music Service was honoured with the title of ‘Sutton Music service’s Young Musician of the year 2017’.

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Playing outside the box

For the most part, Marietta’s D’Almeida’s learning and performances were largely revolved around Western Classical music though with her natural ear for music that had been discovered at a very young age, she adopted a variety of other genres, such as Pop, Latin, Portuguese and Konkani. “Most recently, I have developed an interest in remixing Bollywood and Western music so that it appeals to a wider audience,” she says, “As a British born Indian, I think it is important to appreciate both cultures musically and my performances have been received very successfully, particularly amongst Cambridge University India Society (at whose ball I played ‘Teri Meri’ remixed with Coldplay’s ‘Paradise’) and the attendees of the 2019 Goan Extravaganza.”  In spite of this novel interest, she still retains her fondness for classical music, as demonstrated by her solo violin recital at Gonville and Caius College comprising of pieces like Saint-Saens’ ‘Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso’ and Beethoven’s ‘Spring Sonata’.

Playing it forward

When asked about what her music holds for the future, Marietta expressed her eagerness to expand her repertoire, particularly in the relatively niche field of remixing Eastern and Western Music. “I want to engage with my Indian heritage, explore other genres and maybe consider other means of creating music. I am inspired by many musicians, like Sandeep Thakur, and would love to be able to collaborate with them. Also, whilst I have been very fortunate to perform abroad, I am yet to perform in Goa and would really love the opportunity to be able to perform a Konkani-Western fusion.”

The benefits of music, as demonstrated by Marietta’s experiences, are immeasurable. As well as honing a valuable skill that has enriched her mental capacity, along the way, she has met new people, made friendships, built her confidence and brought joy to others. She concludes, “words are not enough to express the value of music. Whether you listen to it or perform it, where culture, politics and money divide us, music unites us”.

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