NCPA orchestra set to strike right notes

For the Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI), the 10th celebrity concert season that begins on Saturday will be one of experiments and firsts.

The orchestra, owned by the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), will perform outside the NCPA for the first time by holding its inaugural concert at Mahalaxmi’s Turf Club and its closing concert on February 27 in Chennai.

The Saturday concert, featuring singer Kailash Kher, will also showcase SOI’s first tie-up with Bollywood.

“The Turf Club concert is an experiment, but I believe this is the right time for the orchestra to start participating in big movies, because Bollywood is going global and requires global music,” said Marat Bisengaliev, SOI’s music director and a violinist.

Last June, the SOI made its international debut in Moscow with Beethoven’s ninth symphony, and this season, it has raised the bar for itself by selecting challenging and esoteric compositions such as Mahler’s fourth symphony, Prokofiev’s second violin concerto, and Brahms’ second symphony as a part of its concert programmes.

The orchestra, comprising 19 Indian musicians, has been preparing for these pieces since the end of their last season in September.

“I believe the SOI has reached a level of technical brilliance where they can perform works of this stature proficiently,” said NCPA chairman Khushroo Suntook, who believes this will be the first time that Mumbai will see a live performance of Mahler’s fourth symphony.

The concerts of the 13-day season will be conducted by the British guest conductor Adrian Leaper and SOI resident conductor Zane Dalal. The international celebrity performers include pianist Marouan Benabdullah, violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky and soprano Ekaterina Lekhina.

“In October, the orchestra will take another step further with a performance in Sydney’s Opera House and possibly concerts in New Zealand and Singapore as well,” said Bisengaliev.

The public concerts of the Symphony Orchestra of India’s 10th celebrity season will be held from February 14 to 26 at the NCPA. For details of the schedule, go to


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