Classical treat: East and West playing in harmony

  • Aneesha Bedi, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Mar 13, 2015 19:09 IST

Like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, music is what pleases the ears. In the social media age, it is naïve to assume that any culture appreciates only native music.

The Ensemble Esharêh is in the city to contribute to this tradition of striking a chord with the world and bringing people together. Concert singer Simon Dégremont, and percussionists Matthias Labbe (tablas, mridangam) and Julien Lahaye (zarb, daf) of the French band are touring the country with Indian musicians Vishal Vardhan (bansuri) and Sougata Roy Chowdhury (sarod).

They travel to develop ideas. “India gives us impetus,” said Lahaye (32). Combining Indian sounds with Arab chants and Persian rhythms, Esharêh keeps alive the musical and linguistic heritage of oraltradition country songs from the upper Brittany cultural region of northwest France.

Referring subtly to a possible link between the eastern and western cultures, the musicians are keepers What: Concert by Ensemble Esharêh, French classical music band touring the country with Indian musicians When: Today, 6.30pm Where: Tagore Theatre Entry: Free of a living oral tradition, Esharêh, which in Farsi (Persian) means “allusion”. Classical medal guitarist Simon Dégremont (26) says the idea of creating a unique musical language set the band on this tour.

For him, “music speaks for itself ”. In the age when genres such as pop, rock, and heavy metal are dominant, the band is sticking to classical rhythms. “Classical music is like the roots of the music tree, and we believe in staying true to our roots,” said Simon. Sarod player Sougata Roy Chowdhury (40) agrees with Simon. Born to an Indian classical singer and a sculptor, Chowdhary had the environment in house to take up classical music.

Asked why not many people want to make a career in classical music, he said: “Perhaps, they need to realise that it is the base of our all music, and trained classical musicians can experiment with many genres. Playing bansuri or table is also cool,” he said.

The band has performed already in Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Puducherry, and Kolkata. Brought to Chandigarh by Alliance Française and the UT department of cultural affairs, it will perform at Tagore Theatre on Friday, 6.30pm onwards.

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