How many people are able to say that they’ve performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City, or better yet, at one of the most prestigious and respected concert venues in the U.S. as a 6-year-old?
Abhik Mazumder, an IU sophomore double majoring in piano performance and jazz studies, is one of those people.
Mazumder was raised in a house full of music, which inspired him to pick up his first instrument at the young age of 3 years old.
“When I was a toddler, there was always music around the house. My dad was really into classic rock and electric blues, so I especially heard a lot of guitar,” Mazumder said. “I wanted to play guitar, actually, but I couldn’t find anyone who would teach me because I was so young.”
Not being able to find a guitar teacher was a pivotal moment for Mazumder because it pushed him to try out a different instrument: the piano.
“I started playing the piano when I was 4, and I’ve sort of just been doing it ever since,” Mazumder said.
Mazumder’s talent and passion for the piano led him to perform at Carnegie Hall in 2008 and eventually audition for the Jacobs School of Music where he has been involved in both the classically oriented piano department and the more contemporary jazz department. While Mazumder appreciates being at Jacobs for all the opportunities it has given him, he also wishes there was a greater inclusiveness of other genres and styles of music.
“I can see the difference in terms of how much priority is given — the operas still have million dollar budgets while jazz students play their graduate recitals in rehearsal rooms,” Mazumder said. “But that isn’t to bash classical music. I love classical music, and that’s why I’m choosing to do that as well.”
Despite his desire for a more equal playing field between school departments, Mazumder said he feels thankful his peers and professors support and motivate him to continue creating and playing music.
Katie Wheeler, a sophomore studying musical theater, said Mazumder always knows how he wants to improve and what he can do to better his playing.
“He is overly humble and conducts himself in a way that doesn’t make him seem larger than the music,” Wheeler said. “He’s a genuine friend with a kind-hearted soul, and did I mention that he’s probably one of the best musicians I’ve met?”
Mazumder channels his love for all stylings of music into his own projects and compositions, which includes jamming with other young musicians. He has recently collaborated with jazz vocalist Kieran Brown and percussionist Lucy Ritter and hopes the three of them will be able to share their music with the public as COVID-19 goes away and performances eventually become a safer activity .
“Abhik is one of the most versatile players I’ve ever met,” Brown said. “He can pick up any style and be a master at it. He is a sensitive musician, and his vast understanding of harmony makes him stand out and is why I choose him to play with. He also has perfect pitch which is so cool.”
Though Mazumder can't perform as much as he’d like, he feels fortunate to be a part of one of the big-band jazz ensembles on campus.
“The size of the ensembles are small enough that we are able to fit together into a rehearsal room in a safe way. I actually had my first big-band concert last Monday, and it was live streamed on IUMusicLive,” Mazumder said.
IU has four, rotating big bands, and Mazumder’s next performance can be streamed Oct. 19 on the IUMusicLive! page.
Mazumder’s face lit up when he talked about his favorite musicians and inspirations. Jacob Collier, Bill Evans, D’Angelo and Claude Debussy are just some of the artists who have influenced his playing, and this speaks to Mazumder’s appreciation for a wide variety of music and for music as a whole.
“I think, at the end of the day, it’s really just about making myself and other people feel something. It’s about how I can reach people with the music and get the audience to dig in with what I’m doing,” Mazumder said.
Mazumder’s single, “Melty Valves,” featuring Homer Holt, is available on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube, and he plans to produce more original music in the future.