If you love the soothing music of a piano, you should add Nise Meruno to your playlist. Meruno is from Dimapur, Nagaland, a small state in the North East that has brought Meruno a much-needed impetus to show the world what he is made of. Meruno has had the honour of performing for dignitaries like the President and the Prime Minister of India, and socialites like Aamir Khan and the Ambanis, and if you talk about awards, well, the list is endless. He has played all over the world and also composes for and directs choirs, and mentors musicians.
The star pianist won the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Music and currently helms an all-male choir called Zowe Madrigal. Meruno is the cultural ambassador of music for his hometown and shares his expertise on music by teaching and training musicians and artistes. He is a motivational speaker as well, who inspires young people to follow their dreams.
VERUS FERREIRA chats with Nise Meruno who tells him how it all began for him.
When did you start playing the piano?
I started playing the piano when I was six years old. The reason I chose to pursue it as a career was because I found my identity in it; I was just myself when I played the piano. And so, it was an easy career choice to make. It made me very happy.
Was music always in your family?
Yes, it was and it still is. I am the fourth generation pianist in my family. In fact, my grandmother who is 90, still plays the piano, and so, the first music genre I was exposed to as a child was classical music, and to this day, there’s always music in our home, western classical music, at least in my Granny’s house.
It was during one of our family gatherings at my grandparents’ home that I randomly sat at the piano and stared playing, and so, for my sixth birthday, my parents’ gift for me was a piano teacher Ms Nikolo Tsuzu. Then Mrs Margaret Shishak took me under her care, and as they say the rest is history.
Did you ever receive any formal training in piano?
Yes, I did. But during those days we did not have music examiners coming from international music boards like we do today and so, I privately trained under Mrs Shishak, and travelled to Shillong to give my first exam straight for Grade 7. After Std 12, I pursued my music studies further in Singapore, and during that time, I also trained in western classical singing, conducting and composition, which are all still a part of my music life and career.
You left a high-paying job as a flight steward to pursue music. Wasn’t it a risk?
Well, I’m flying higher now, isn’t it? (laughs) I wanted to be a flight steward too, at one point. But it was my “love” for my “calling” (music) that I was following; so the decision to change my career trajectory came fairly easy.
Verus Ferreira is a freelance music journalist for over three decades, contributing articles to various newspapers and magazines. He is the author of The Great Music Quiz Book and The Great Rock Music Quiz Book. Besides being a music aficionado, he is also a photo-journalist. He contributes to Musicunplugged.in and has his own column on The Revolver Club, a vinyl music store. Reach him at verusferreira.com