Sai wins top prize in piano at Musica Viva Awards - Freyberg High School
October 25, 2017
Arlo releases short film
November 27, 2017
Show all

Source: Manawatu Standard


A young Palmerston North musician hopes one day his compositions will pull at your heart strings on the big screen.

Freyberg High School 17-year-old Sai Natarajan says he is fascinated by how music conveys emotion and nuances in a uniquely powerful and beautiful way.

This month, he scooped the $500 top prize in piano at the Manawatū Musica Viva Young Performers Scholarship Awards for a performance by a musician under 25. He played pieces by Brahms, Debussy and Beethoven.


Sai has been learning piano for 11 years and violin for five years. The concert was a fun challenge and a good way to end his high school years, he says.

“I really enjoy the fact that with music and playing it you’re expressing a form of emotion that you can’t express in words.”

His is often found at his piano working out the scores to films and “jamming” with them, or writing new orchestral compositions of his own.

“Telling a story is portraying emotion. If Tom Cruise has just delivered an Oscar-worthy performance and the composer puts kazoo music over it, let’s see how Oscar-worthy it looks now,” he says.

“Composers wield a lot of power in films.”

Sai’s favourite film composers are Hans Zimmer, who wrote soundtracks for The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception, and John Powell, who wrote his all-time favourite film score, for DreamWorks’ animated hit How to Train Your Dragon.

“Mostly, I enjoy films that have a philosophical, deep aspect to them. A lot of [director] Chris Nolan’s films do that and he works very closely with Hans Zimmer. They are working together weeks before the film production begins. They believe that the music influences what happens on set.”

Second to film scores, his favourite music to play is from the romantic period of classical music and he particularly enjoys 17th century composer Felix Mendelssohn.

“Romantic is a lot more, well, romantic, with more emotion and texture.”

Sai plans to spend the next year as a productive gap year, creating a portfolio of compositions, contacting filmmakers and gaining experience producing music for films. He will study sound engineering the following year, to further his technical skills.

– Stuff