Indian Orchestral Music
This Saturday, the culmination of months of preparation will be Samyo’s 11th annual showcase concert, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. In a series of preview articles and behind-the-scenes stories, we tell you more about the people, music and ambitions of Samyo, the National Youth Orchestra for Indian Music. In Part 3 of 5, find out how the music of Samyo is selected, created and prepared for our concerts!
One of the most challenging and exciting aspects of working with music for Samyo is that there is no existing repertoire for Indian orchestra. Though there are thousands of compositions, each played in thousands of different ways, our tradition is aural, passed on by guru to student, and is a solo, improvised form.
In Samyo, we have tried to create a new style of Indian classical music, blending the best elements of our ancient, popular genre, with the best ideas of orchestration, arrangement and composition. Indian music is a fast growing, dynamic and modern art form, and it finds identities in Bollywood films, religious settings, folk and popular music, as well as the “traditional” format too. Our concept is different and simple: we take exciting music that inspires us, regardless of its label, and play it on our range of Indian instruments. In most cases, our work is create or arranged especially for the orchestra.
So what are pictures of Mozart and Superman’s crest doing on this page? This year, for Samyo’s 11th annual concert, we wanted to bridge the gap between East and West and pay tribute to one of the world’s musical geniuses. Call us crazy, but we’re going to play a concerto for piano an orchestra on Indian instruments. Film music, especially written by masters like Hans Zimmer, almost always hits the mark, and in his Ideal of Hope, we found drama and energy, so we thought we’d love to play and share that with you. We don’t think you’ll hear anything else quite like it!
Apart from these existing compositions, Samyo commissions great composers of India to create new original work for us, or asks maestro musicians to give us their ideas for our performances. After arranging scores for sitar, veena, violin, percussion, flute and voice, music is written in a trademark Samyo fashion, and taught by our Conductors to the orchestra. It’s a special, challenging and unique process, because compositions can be either prepared off site and sent in final form to us in England, or tried out in a workshop format, often developed by our own conductors and musicians.
In creating and recreating our own Samyo style, we challenge our young musicians constantly, and one single concert can see our musicians playing a wide variety of genres. In our latest concert in March 2014, you will hear inspirations from Hollywood, Bollywood, folk music and a series of original works that stretch the imagination! Add to that our guest artist and composer, pianist Anil Srinivasan, and we’ve got a performance that’s different even by our standards.
So if you want to imagine a Samyo concert, think rich instrumentation, scintillating rhythms, beautiful melodies, virtuosic playing, and heady, dramatic arrangements. We’re not limited by existing music, we create our own. It’s only a matter of putting our imagination to pen and paper, and asking our brilliant young musicians to do the rest. Simple, isn’t it?