Learning to play the acoustic guitar can be daunting. But Vishal Chopra had a goal. “To be different,” confesses the 16-year old, in an e-mail interview.
As a young boy, he picked up the stringed instrument and, within days, he was already playing full songs.
And it was this determination, drive and passion that eventually landed him on the world stage at this year’s World Championship Of Performing Arts (WCOPA) at Long Beach, California, the United States.
The WCOPA is an annual, Olympic-style championship that brings together aspiring performers from around the world to showcase their talent, get acquainted with their global peers and ultimately snag some awards and scholarships.
“I did something incredibly unique – which was playing two guitars at the same time,” Vishal enthuses with an all-too-familiar adolescent earnestness.
The Penang-born, who was part of the Malaysian team, made it to the semi-finals and won gold medals for the contemporary, original works and open categories, and a silver for the classical category.
Prior to this, Vishal had taken part in the Malaysian Champion-ship Of Performing Arts and won a RM12,000 scholarship to represent Malaysia in the WCOPA.
Vishal, who is currently doing his A Levels at the Prince Of Wales Island International School in Penang, says, “Something about music struck a chord with me. I wanted to understand it and be a multi-instrumentalist so that I could play any instrument.”
Besides acoustic and electric guitar, Vishal also plays bass, drums and the ukulele.
His mastery of the guitar also led him to come up top two years ago for the Hitz FM Talent Search 2016.
But playing musical instruments is not the only thing Vishal is passionate about. He had also dabbled in acting and singing in his school’s staging of popular musicals such as Bugsy Malone (2013), We Will Rock You (2014) and Grease (2015).
“After acting in my first musical, I realised how fun it was to become someone else completely on stage,” Vishal says.
For other young people who are considering trying their luck in the world of performing arts, Vishal has this to say:
“Even if it’s not your cup of tea, push yourself to do things differently. You have to get yourself out there and take all the opportunities that you can get.
“Even if the people around you don’t take it seriously, push yourself and show them that you are serious.”
And he is not planning to slow down.
“Winning those titles and medals made me feel validated, that I have done something big for my age. Now, I will push myself further to go (do) bigger (things).”