WOW | Musical Conversation


Text: Rojina Maharjan
Photos: Ram Tandukar

Phoebe Shrestha recently made her debut as a violinist with the Kathmandu String Ensemble, a quartet formed with Avipsha Neupane on the violin, Sabina Maharjan on the viola and Iva Maharjan on the cello. Although they are in the initial phase of their career, the quartet has already gained popularity while performing at some of the city’s top-notch events.

In conversation with WOW, the talented musician answers on behalf of the quartet about her journey in music.

How did you get into music, especially the violin?

Initially, the violin was a completely new instrument for me. I had no idea how it sounded. As it is regarded as one of the most difficult instruments to play, I wanted to play it to perfection. Hence, in the processing of learning, I developed a passion for it. I was 17 years old when I first performed in a historical orchestra. My teacher, Sabin Munikar, helped me grasp many opportunities where I could showcase my talent. This ignited my enthusiasm to play at various events.

How did you form the quartet?

We were a part of Kathmandu String Ensemble, a music group of young and energetic string players based in Kathmandu. As there are few women who play string instruments in Nepal, we came up with the idea of forming a girls only quartet. We hope this step will change the perspective towards female musicians and inspire them.

What is the scenario of String Ensemble in Nepal? 

In the context of Nepal, it is relatively a less explored form of music. Many people are still unaware of the instrument played in a string ensemble. However, our instruments are getting more attention than they used to. We probably have only two active string quartets in the country and both are within the Kathmandu String Ensemble.

How do you prepare for a show? 

Preparation is always difficult yet the most fruitful part. We decide on the repertoire according to the event and target audience; we try and keep our main focus on classical numbers. Also, it is very important to enjoy ourselves before we entertain the audience so we work on proper coordination, with a lot of practice.

What do you want the crowd to feel when you are playing?

We want the crowd to enjoy our music as much as we enjoy playing for them. They say one needs to understand music to enjoy it. However, we want to inform that one does not need to know technicality of any music. We want to reflect that music has the power to heal the soul.

What are the future plans?

At KSE, we have plans to promote Western classical music and strengthen its roots in Nepal. We are also trying to encourage more female musicians to be a part of the string ensemble. Further, we are raising funds for children at Modern Model Residential School in Karnali in collaboration with Impact Schools, our partner to the Audeamus Music Foundation. Through this initiative, we want to give children an opportunity to learn music and have access to musical instruments.