BLIGHTY AT LAST

India Today - - LEISURE - —Nikhil Sar­dana

For Na­tional Cen­tre of Per­form­ing Arts (NCPA) chair­man Khushroo N. Sun­took, the Sym­phony Orches­tra of In­dia’s (SOI) maiden tour of the UK this spring sea­son is “a dream come true”. The tour is a re­al­i­sa­tion of the vi­sion of NCPA founder Dr Jamshed J. Bhabha.

It was Sun­took who con­ceived the plan to cre­ate In­dia’s first pro­fes­sional sym­phony orches­tra over a decade ago and con­vinced Marat Bisen­galiev (who was “in­trigued by the chal­lenge”) to form an orches­tra of mu­si­cians from his na­tive Kaza­khstan and In­dia in 2004.

This sea­son, as he per­forms as the soloist in vi­o­lin con­cer­tos by com­posers Camille Saint-Saëns and Max Bruch in Lon­don with his team, along with the em­i­nent tabla mae­stro Zakir Hussain, SOI mu­sic di­rec­tor Bisen­galiev, too, will surely ex­pe­ri­ence a bit of ex­hil­a­ra­tion.

The sea­son, be­gin­ning on Fe­bru­ary 4 at Mum­bai’s Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, prom­ises va­ri­ety and ap­peal. While Ber­lioz’s con­cert over­ture, Ro­man Car­ni­val, is a crowd-pleaser with its ex­u­ber­ant car­ni­val spirit, Carl Maria von We­ber’s Oberon has been de­scribed as “a mas­ter­piece of op­er­atic or­ches­tra­tion”.

In Niko­lai Rim­sky-Kor­sakov’s Scheherazade and Hussain’s tabla con­certo Peshkar (an SOI com­mis­sion), east will not only meet west, but merge ideas and per­cep­tions in a mar­vel­lous cross-cul­tural ex­change. It is clear why the two have been paired to­gether. The for­mer is mu­sic of the Ori­ent viewed through the fil­ter of a western aes­thetic in in­stru­men­ta­tion and struc­ture, while Hussain’s work “blends the rhyth­mic el­e­ments of Hin­dus­tani mu­sic with ex­pres­sive melodies for sym­phonic in­stru­ments”, says Zane Dalal, SOI as­so­ciate mu­sic di­rec­tor. “It is a great hon­our to in­tro­duce this mar­vel­lous piece to Bri­tish au­di­ences.”

Dalal will share the podium with the English Na­tional Opera’s (ENO) con­duc­tor Mar­tyn Brab­bins, who de­scribes the SOI as “an orches­tra that wants to give all it can”. Un­der his baton, the SOI will play Sergei Rach­mani­nov’s Sym­phony No. 2 and Lud­wig van Beethoven’s mas­ter­ful Ninth Sym­phony. The choral move­ment of the lat­ter will fea­ture soloists from both In­dia and abroad, and a choir com­pris­ing Kazakh and In­dian singers.

For its spring sea­son, the Sym­phony Orches­tra of In­dia will tour the UK, as well as In­dia, with tabla mae­stro Zakir Hussain

Sym­phonic sto­ries Tabla mae­stro Zakir Hussain with the Sym­phony Orches­tra of In­dia

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