Artistes from 11 countries collaborate to propagate classical music through a concert for charity
Classical music is on a worldwide rebound. Unfortunately, in our country, a lot of it is still confined to elevators and lounges. Yet, many consider it artistry of the highest order. And on a bitterly cold night in Delhi, a cadre of 11 spectacular musicians, each hailing from a different corner of the planet, showed us why this is so at HCL Confluence - A Fusion of Harmony.
This global collective — most of whom are currently based in New York (NYC) — comprised of Grammy winners, Hollywood music composers, YouTube celebrities, and artistes who’ve performed for everyone from the Pope to the Kardashians.
Adagio for the ages
However, before heading to India to play at this invite-only concert, the ensemble worked together for a long time on 16 musical pieces that celebrated our planet’s socio-cultural multifariousness.
“Our idea is to celebrate the beauty in diversity through the fusion of music, food and people. The evening was a reflection of the culture of inclusion and the spirit of collaboration”, said Ravi Kathuria, global head - corporate affairs, who added the night was also about procuring sponsors to ensure state school students have access to musical instruments.
During the 90-minute gala, the musicians left the audience within Leela Palace spellbound by using seven simple notes on the chromatic scales to weave symphonies that are emblematic of their respective countries. This includes compositions of Waltz-Musette (France), Sakura Sakura (Japan), En vanlig gronskas rika drakt (Sweden), Vande Mataram (India), and much more.
Facing the music
“It took us a long time to select this playlist and figure out the arrangements, as at its core it was a journey through time and folklores,” explained Frenchman Adrien Chevalier, whose tunes have appeared on Ridley Scott’s film A Good Year. Nevertheless, it is odd that a group of such musical virtuosos did not feature a single woman or person of colour.
Adrien, who helmed this crew, claimed, “This is an unfortunate coincidence. I rounded-up some NYC-based artistes, who are close friends of mine and played different instruments and hailed from various nations—as that was the brief.” This camaraderie shined through after the first couple of pieces, especially during a captivating take on the 400-year-old harp-heavy English folk tune Greensleeves.
Incidentally, the harpist, Benjamin CG, was also the youngest person in the troupe. He reaffirmed the fact that Gen-Z is not prejudiced when it comes to classical sounds, be it swinging Swiss polka or slow-to-unfurl Bach’s Sarabande.
“I’m from the music-streaming generation and what’s exciting about this era is that we’re open-minded when it comes to genres. We are no strangers to classical music either, as most epic video game soundtracks are orchestral in nature and luminaries like Hans Zimmer have popularised the sound. It’s all about proper introductions and taking listeners on the right path,” said the 23-year-old. That sense of direction was obvious from their meticulously-crafted playlist, which was occasionally marred by an abysmal MC butchering names and pronunciations.
The night ended on a high note after an extended rendition of Vande Mataram, with tabla maestro
Shahid Khan Kawa, resulted in an encore performance of a Qawwali song titled Mast Qalandar. “This has been an eye-opening experience for all of us involved. We’ve learned so much about Hindustani and Sufi music after a few days with Shahid — bridging the cultural gap between East and West,” concluded Linus Wyrsch, a Grammy-winning jazz clarinettist.
On the roster
Here are the 11 musicians who appeared on the ensemble at the non-profit event:
* Adrien Chevalier (France), violin: Co-founder of the popular Avalon Jazz Band.
* Linus Wyrsch (Switzerland), clarinet: Grammy winner, who has performed with Kanye West.
* Bjorn Ingelstam (Sweden), trumpet: Award-winning jazz trumpet player.
* Roberto Gervasi (Italy), accordion: Composer on several Italian TV shows.
* Benjamin Creighton Griffiths (UK), harp: Internationally renowned electro-acoustic jazz harpist.
* Jérome Brajtman (Denmark), guitar: Director of the Nomad Research Center of Music.
* Martin Doykin (Bulgaria), upright bass: Veteran bassist who has performed with legends like Sepideh.
* Leonard Elschenbroich (Germany), cello: Award-winning co-founder of Orquesta Filarmonica de Bolivia.
* George Dimitriu (Romania), viola: Guest teacher at Amsterdam Conservatory.
* Go Kikuchi (Japan), piano: Prodigal pianist who has performed at Ringo Festival.
* Shahid Khan Kawa (India), tabla: Seventh generation Sufi and Rajasthani musician.
The writer was in New Delhi on HCL’s invitation.
To contribute to this non-profit initiative, visit hclfoundation.org