Magical Music goes silver

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Normally, if you were to walk past the East West Center- The headquarters of the Bangalore School of Music- in R.T. Nagar, you would hear students rattling away at their pianos, violins and flutes. Now, the India National Youth Orchestra will stop you dead with the rich sounds escaping the center.

They have been practising for a concert to be held on April 10th, ninety-five musicians will perform at Chowdaiah Memorial Hall, conducted by maestro Vijay Upadhyaya. The event is presented by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, New Delhi- in collaboration with Bangalore’s very own School of Music (BSM).

Rehearsal in Progress at the BSM. Pic courtesy: BSM

This is just one of the many events celebrating the school’s silver anniversary. This year is the BSM’s celebration of ‘Odyssey 2012′- their musical journey since 25 years ago. Events and Performances such as the Jazz Fusion Fest, featuring acts such as The Rex Rosario Quintet and Peter Dickson and an International Youth Choir Festival have already gone by, but the rest of the year promises to be as exciting.

The BSM has good reason to celebrate. It has come a long way since 1987, when founder Aruna Sunderlal first held classes in her Netaji Road home near Frazer Town. When Rebecca Thomas, now a Piano Teacher at the BSM, joined in 1991, there were just sixty or seventy students. Today, a well-trained faculty of thirty trains around 350 students. "I love the informal family type of set-up", says Rebecca.

Several multi-cultural festivals have marked the years- such as the Festivals of Poland and Switzerland. The most remarkable though are the thirteen East-West Encounters so far. "The heart of the festivals was the seminars." says Aruna, now Managing Trustee of the BSM. "The artists shared their expertise which really hoped to open doors of welcome between the East and West." Artists from 31 countries have participated in the festivals.

Behind all this, are extremely giving hands. Many students from economically weaker sections receive training free. Over 25 years, these have numbered to more than 3500! Music Therapy is offered to those with special needs. Rebecca Thomas, who is also a Music Therapist, visits orphanages in her spare time. "Being able to turn around and serve people through music is incredible!" she says.

The biggest assets of the School? "Our faculty members and our students", says Aruna. "Our faculty is the backbone of the school and our students are our gems." Its motto is simple- Music Unites. The school conducts 25-30 public concerts every year, with both Indian and international performers.

The concert on the 10th is just one of these. Among the works being performed are Mozart’s 48th Symphony, Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night Dream and Schubert’s Overture. Among the violins, trumpets and flutes are tablas! While the performance is mainly Western Classical, the Orchestra has included an original composition- A Rajasthani Folk Song. "As we are the India National Youth Orchestra, we always like to perform something Indian." says Sonal Khan, Managing Director.

The Orchestra has seen many fine moments, such as their performance at the opening ceremony of the German Year. It has brought together different people- engineers, doctors, students, even people from ashrams. No doubt their performance, beginning at 7 pm, will do their reputation credit.