Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Mixed emotions

Sunday evening was lucky for many reasons.

Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra was performing in Bombay after 50 years. My music loving father was in town. Mr Bojangles could manage entry passes for me and my father. And we had the experience of a lifetime.

A chamber orchestra is a smaller than the usual orchestra and largely consists of string instruments. Violin and its elder siblings.

The usually mild winters of Bombay has strangely become harsh with icy breeze these days and this Sunday evening was particularly cold with the venue being right next to the sea. But everything became comfortable once we were inside the warm interiors of the magnificent Jamshed Bhabha theatre. The promise of some great live music by the musicians from Germany was adding to the comfort. The 2 years old Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI), was also going to give a couple of performances.

Founded in 1945, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra is the oldest professional chamber orchestra in the world and hence serves as a model for others.

The conductor was a smiling, snow-bearded violinist called Benjamin Hudson and his team lovingly rendered the subtle magic of Mozart, Bach and Greig. The bows of their violins, cellos and bass danced along while their fingers danced on the string. The performing ladies looked beautiful in their gowns and the men sophisticated in their tailcoats. I kept swaying along, reacting to each and every nuance of the compositions. All along, my lips had a constant smile. Evenings like this are rare.

The SOI gave their Stuttgart partners great company but as earnestly accepted by their conductor himself; they have a lot of catching up to do.

During the 15 minutes break, we spotted Pyaarelal of Laxmikant Pyaarelal fame. Dressed in the trademark white attire, he had also come to savour the sonorous evening.

But all wasn’t as beautiful as the music of Mozart. The average age of the audience was 65. Western Classical music is turning into a dying form of art. And this is the truth all over the world. There are very few listeners of this form of music and most of them are in the later part of their lives. Hence, it doesn’t make commercial sense. Simple. Sad. Will there be similar concerts 200 hundred years from now? In Vienna...maybe. But, in Bombay, I’m not sure.

Somehow, our own Indian Classical music scenario seems to be in a better shape than this. I might be wrong.

With these mixed emotions of exhilaration and sadness, my father and I rushed back to my sisters place for dinner with some good wine. The breeze had become icier.

ps: Can you spot the snow-bearded conductor in the picture, taken on the sly? His beard looks black here because of the violin's chin rest.