Style and versatility, her key features | Sunday Observer

Style and versatility, her key features

Arosha Katz Pic by Ranjith Asanka
Arosha Katz Pic by Ranjith Asanka

Henry Mancini’s hit Moon River was being played with elegant phrasing on the piano, when I walked into the Cinnamon Grand Hotel to meet up with the pianist Arosha Katz and have a conversation with her as to how and when she got involved in the music scene in Sri Lanka. In between the breaks in her playing she clued me in as to how it all started for her. That she has a sense of style and is versatile in her repertoire cannot be denied. What strikes you most when listening to her is that she plays mostly easy-on-the-ear numbers that move along with grace rather than forceful drive.

“My mother the late Yvonne Keerthisinghe was an acclaimed music teacher and she encouraged me to play the piano from the time I was six years old. She insisted that I play by ear and also made sure that I read music which meant that I had to study music formally. This I did under my mother’s guidance. I went up to my ATCL. I am an associate of the Trinity College of music and as of now under the guidance of Ramya De Livera Perera.

Q: At some stage in your youth there must have been a starting point to perform in public?

“Actually as it always happens when they know you can play the piano and that too by ear you get hauled into playing for family parties. I guess that was more or less my launch! However, on a serious note I was the pianist at Methodist College and played for the school assembly at the Chapel.

“And then again while completing a Montessori Diploma I taught at Wesley College in the Kindergarten and helped in training the school band, not forgetting in assisting the children with their music”.

Q: When I arrived at the Hotel you were playing Moon River which was reminiscent of Richard Clayderman, are you a Clayderman fan and what about his other tunes like Lara’s Theme, Love Is A Many Splendid Thing, Love Story to name a few. Your repertoire how elastic is it?

“Yes, I am inspired and influenced by Richard Clayderman’s playing. But that is not the beginning and the end. My repertoire is wide – consists of pap hits, show tunes, theme’s from musicals, movies and light and semi classical music.”

Q:You have, like you tell us, that you’ve been playing at hotels for quite a long while, do you enjoy playing at hotels and what are the guests reactions. Are they interested in what you are playing or are you providing music in the background?

“I enjoy playing in the hotel lobbies, as I get the opportunity to meet people from all parts of the world. This is an encouragement for me to maintain any standards and also gives me the chance to play music of their countries e.g. French, Italian, Chinese, Spanish, German and of course English songs. It makes me happy to see most of the guests come and dance and enjoy the music I play. They make it a point to video my playing and photograph themselves with me.”

Q:You married the amazing German violinist Karl Katz, who did many returns to Sri Lanka with his band of accomplished musicians, how much did he inspire you to have a vision to take your music career into the future?

“My late husband Karl Katz was a renowned international violinist and he certainly influenced my musical career a great deal. His general musical acumen and experience further enhanced my musical career/ We had a band for about 5 years with double bass and drums, and we were featured at the Colombo Hilton. I played a duo scene also with him at the Hilton. Without a doubt he had a great musical impact on me and my musical career.”

Now playing regularly at the Cinnamon Grand and Cinnamon Lakeside, Arosha Katz is happy and content with what she is doing, yet we hope she would think of spreading her vibes for a larger audience on a concert stage.