Samyo Backstage Pass: Interview with Dr Rajeeb Chakraborty

On Saturday 28th February, Samyo performs its next Annual Showcase at the Southbank Centre‘s Queen Elizabeth Hall. In a series of reports and interviews, Samyo’s Artistic Director, Alok Nayak, takes us behind the scenes to give us the inside scoop on how the orchestra comes together to create their music and prepare for a concert.

Samyo’s Composer of the Year in 2015 is Dr Rajeeb Chakraborty. Having worked with the orchestra since its founding in 2003, he has been closely associated with Milapfest and the work of both Samyo and Tarang over the years, and has watched and influenced the growth of this very special brand of Indian Orchestral Music.

Rajeeb Chakraborty is coming towards the end of his one month residency at Milapfest, which includes lectures and teaching at Liverpool Hope University, as well as the creation of brand new work for Samyo’s Showcase Concert on Saturday 28th February. In the final days leading up to the concert, I spoke to him to find out how he feels the work has progressed!

Rajeeb Chakraborty

AN: What, in your view, makes Samyo special?

RC: There is no other platform like this, for musicians so young to perform in a professional setting. They have developed a wonderful skill of playing together. In the new scenario for world music, it’s all about collaboration; many different avenues open up for them, when they have orchestral  skills like this.

Samyo is also the only orchestra which has North Indian and South Indian music coming together in an orchestral form. Even in India we don’t get that. While some young musicians may not feel ready for solo appearances on stage, their skills and ability to perform in an orchestra and choir are very good, and their sight reading ability is extremely good! This helps them to learn and execute a big repertoire of music in a very short time. They know the basic disciplines of how to work in a group, and that’s why the orchestra is a tight team, and sounds great together.

AN: How have you been preparing the Samyo musicians for this concert?

RC: First I sat with Samyo members, explained the music to them, and what I expected from them. The music does not require them to just play, but also to express themselves. Content is important, but the stylisation is also what we are trying to achieve in this composition. More than what we say in the music, is how we say it!
This music is more than just a few noted lines, and was written as a kind of storytelling concept. We always try to create something new in Samyo or Tarang. To me, the music I have composed is more like an “audio cinema”. There is a new effort of storytelling through music and ambient sounds. Every composition begins from some input of that particular scenario. We are travelling back and forth between India and the UK, and I have tried to create that aural scenario of that particular situation.

AN: What makes the role of a Samyo Composer special?

RC: In composing for Samy0, you always have to keep in mind the musicians, the possible sounds from the particular instrument line up and as a composer, you become an integral part of the orchestra, developing the music while working with them over a period of time. We don’t just freeze the composition and fix the lines, because there are a lot of excellent young musicians whose potential we can highlight and showcase as the music develops.

The entire journey has many unexpected audio treatments. Sit back, relax and enjoy the music!

Dr Rajeeb Chakraborty is Samyo’s Composer of the Year, and was talking to Alok Nayak, the Artistic Director of Samyo. Follow the blog for more updates and info from inside the orchestra, and follow Samyo on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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