-Shivani Chaturvedi (Chennai)
Chennai-based teenage music prodigy Lydian Nadhaswaram (17) sprang into the global limelight after he won the $1 million (Rs.7 crore) The World’s Best (American reality show) title in 2019 for piano proficiency, and wowed viewers on The Ellen DeGeneres Show with blindfold piano play. In addition, he plays 18 musical and percussion instruments.
The first and only student trainee of well-known music composer Ilaiyaraaja, Lydian is currently composing the musical score of Barroz, a Malayalam-language children’s film directed by superstar Mohanlal.
Last July, the teenage maestro released a jazz album Chromatic Grammatic in collaboration with international (Dave Weckl, Frank Gambale, Eric Marienthal) and a few Indian (Gino Banks, Mohini Dey, Sivamani, and Rajhesh Vaidhya) jazz musicians. Earlier in September 2021, Lydian became the first Indian pianist to perform with the Symphony Orchestra of India at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai.
Born into a music-loving family — father Sathish Varshini is an accomplished keyboard player and music director in the Tamil film industry, and elder sister Amirtha Varshini is a gifted singer, flautist and pianist — Lydian’s music education began as early as 18 months. “When Lydian started playing beats on the floor with xylophone sticks, I decided to buy him an amateur drum set. Within six months, he graduated to standard-size drums,” recalls father Sathish.
When Lydian turned nine, his father enrolled him at the world-famous music composer A.R. Rahman’s KM Music Conservatory’s Russian School of Music where he trained for four years under the tutelage of pianist Surojit Chatterjee. He has since cleared the Trinity College of London’s Grade 8 exams.
Realising early on that both their children were musically gifted and would need time to devote to music, Sathish and his wife Jhansi decided to homeschool them academically with a strong emphasis on languages and math learning, leaving him enough time for piano practice.
Lydian has set his sights high. “I am looking for an opportunity in Hollywood. Music is a universal language transcending national boundaries. I want to compose uplifting music and spread peace and harmony worldwide,” says the young virtuoso.