Flutes made of wood instead of metal, kettle drums covered in hide, and boxwood oboes completely unlike today’s — that’s what you can expect to see, and hear, on Thursday, as two of the US’ leading classical music schools perform in Mumbai for the first time.
The Yale Schola Cantorum will perform choral music from as far back as the 15th century, while the New York-based Juilliard415 will perform on 400-year-old Baroque-era instruments.
“A lot of care goes into maintaining these instruments,” says Neeta Helms, founder and president of Classical Movements, the US-based concert tour company bringing both schools to India.
Adding to the novelty is the fact that the music being performed will include This Love Between Us: Prayers for Unity, an original composition by a 34-year-old American composer of Indian origin, Reena Esmail.
Her composition combines western choir, sitar and tabla, as well as a medley that will be sung and performed by the ensembles. This Love Between Us... explores the poetry of Rumi and Kabir, the Bible, the Guru Granth Sahib, Isha Upanishad and other religious texts, in seven languages: English, Hindi, Sanskrit, Malayalam, Punjabi, Persian and Arabic.
This event is one of several initiatives by Classical Movements’ India Choral Fellowship (ICF), which seeks to collaborate with local choirs and promote choral music in the country.
“I try to steer clear of telling people what they should or shouldn’t listen to or perform in choir music,” says Grammy award-winning conductor, singer and educator Kevin Fox, who will be mentoring Thursday’s performances.
Referring to the Shillong Chamber Choir, which shot to fame performing choral versions of Bollywood songs, Fox adds: “Although I’d like for children to be exposed to both formulaic and structurally challenging music, I’m not against choral compositions of pop or any other genre if that means attracting crowds to choral music and making them more inclined to it.”
WHAT: Yale Schola Cantorum & Juilliard415
WHERE: National Centre for the Performing Arts, Nariman Point
WHEN: Thursday, 7 pm
Ticket prices start at Rs 300; tickets are available online and at the box office