SAMYO’s Annual Showcase, Saturday 12th March 2016

Last weekend, some of the country’s top young musicians came together to present a musical showcase that told stories of life, culture and heritage in the Indian Subcontinent. Samyo’s ‘The Great Indian Heritage’, at Beck Theatre, was the latest showcase by the National Youth Orchestra for Indian Music. Each year, the concert, produced by Indian Arts & culture specialists Milapfest, shares the latest creations from its unique Indian orchestral repertoire. Created with a team of world-class composers and tutors, the concerts are often  visual spectaculars with a thematic approach. This latest concert, on Saturday 12th March, was no exception, exploring four aspects of Indian heritage that could be reflected in music.

After the Concert Orchestra & Conductors (Jane Farley : First Take)

In his introduction in the concert programme, Artistic Director, Alok Nayak, wrote: “The indian subcontinent evokes memories and images of distinctive sights and sounds, deep & varying emotions, and of course of a rich cultural heritage. What does it mean and how do we find and celebrate it? For us, Indian heritage encompasses a way of living, a philosophy and context that gives meaning to your life; it encompasses the arts and culture, and a national or personal identity. Today, Samyo explores four elements of Indian heritage, and how they reflect in musical culture, through an exploration of design, improvisation & creativity, folk culture and identity.”

The concert began with an explosive percussion-only piece ‘Perc at your own risk’, by Kousic Sen, a title that playfully reflects the hustle and bustle of every day life. Featuring compositions by Pandit Ranajit Sengupta, including a beautiful confluence of guitar, piano, saxophone and choir, ‘Together’, and his own signature composition ‘Lullaby’ in which he performed Sarod, photographs, artwork and paintings were projected on screen during the concert. A new feature of the orchestra was a strong Choral ensemble, soon to be Milapfest’s latest creation, the SABRANG National Choir, and it showcased compositions of the Delhi Choir tradition of Gandharva Mahavidyalay, and conducted by Sawani Mudgal.

Alok Nayak explained what makes Samyo concerts unique: ‘We are proud of our young musicians and their brilliant, confident performance, because they are playing a really challenging form of classical music which is entirely new. Indian musicians are trained as soloists or in small, improvised ensembles, so coming together as an orchestra is a big challenge. Our young musicians are Sikhs, Christians, Muslims and Hindus, and from all over England, and from different backgrounds. They come together and not only make music, but make friendships and learn from each other too.’

Ex-Samyo Orchestra Leader, Raaheel Husain, was  the concert’s Associate Conductor in the concert, and his long association with Milapfest’s ensembles shows the opportunities available to young musicians in Britain. Nayak continues, ‘Our concerts are designed not only to entertain, but to unite, educate and inspire people too, so we hope for it to be a rich experience for our orchestra members, their families, and the audiences we invite to watch the concerts.’

Were you at the concert? Tell us what you thought with our Milapfest Audience Feedback form!

SAMYO and the sister ensemble SABRANG are recruiting new members this month. To find out more about the orchestra and their work, visit or email Orchestras Manager Hannah Payne (


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