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Notes of harmony

SAVITHA GAUTAM

The Indian National Orchestra presents classical musicians from North and South India as one unifying force.

Photo: S.S. Kumar

fresh strains: The Indian National Orchestra at rehearsals.

Music is a unifying force… it transcends barriers… it brings people closer… “All true. But why is it that we do not have a structured organisation for Indian classical music?” wondered Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh. It was this thought that motivated the veena exponent into setting up the Indian National Orchestra (INO). “The inspiration for the INO also stemmed from interacting with members of the South East Asian Orchestra, which performs at Milapfest in the U.K., and where I go regularly to compose and teach.”

“Does the name not have a patriotic ring to it?” she asks you excitedly. “It is pan-Indian and comprises some of the best talents from across the country, a fine representation of a tradition that is nearly 2,000 years old.” The INO will be inaugurated with its maiden performance tomorrow (June 25), 6.30 p.m., at the Yagnaraman Fest of Sri Krishna Gana Sabha.

But collaborations between North and South Indian artists are not new, you observe. Jayanthi replies, “Yes, but what sets the INO apart is that every composition has a fresh sound. It is a dialogue between the two classical styles — which have hitherto expressed themselves largely in solos, barring a few attempts of jugalbandis. Every piece offers something novel, though it is based on time-tested kritis and ragas. For example, there's a piece that begins with raag Haricharan and from the ‘ma', it glides to raga Kamavardhini. Also, I have used vocals, normally not found in orchestras, where you often only find choruses.”

Exciting moments

Twenty five artists and 14 instruments seeking to find one voice… What was the experience? Were there ego clashes?

“Daunting at times but exciting all the same,” she laughs. “In fact, my husband Kumaresh said INO also means ‘I' No! So egos were left behind and all the artists were eager to share their ideas and contributed immensely to the music.”

The credit for composing, compiling and arranging is shared by Jayanthi, Kumaresh, vocalist Abhishek Raghuram and arranger Girishh Gopalakrishnan.

Jayanthi says, “The pieces represent some aspect of India. ‘Ganesha' (Gambiranattai) is about a God who has universal appeal. ‘Dancing Peacock' (Reetigowla) is a tribute to the national bird, so are ‘Himalayan Heights' (Haricharan) and ‘Gangeshwari' (Adi Sankara's work first performed by Pt. Ravi Shankar). The piece titled ‘Indian Folk' in Behag paints a picture of rural India. The final piece ‘Kashmir to Kanyakumari' (based on a composition of Lalgudi G. Jayaraman, and remixed by Girishh and Ganesh) is a summation piece.”

Jayanthi is working towards patenting the organisation.

“I want the INO to function independent of any individual. It will be a joint effort in every sense of the term. Support from both the government and corporates will give the organisation a boost. I hope to take the team to various cities both in India and abroad.” With tomorrow's concert, hopefully the INO will head in the right direction.

THE BAND OF PERFORMERS.

Veena - Jayanthi Kumaresh

Vocals- Abhishek Raghuram

Arrangement - Girishh Gopalakrishnan

Violin - Akkarai Subbulakshmi & Akkarai Sornalatha

Violin - Charulatha Ramanujam

Flute - Sikkil Mala Chandrasekhar & Naveen Iyer

Sitar - Rafeeq Khan & Shafeeq Khan

Sarangi - Murad Ali

Mridangam - Patri Satish Kumar & Neyveli Narayanan

Ghatam - Dr. S. Kathick

Ganjira - Guruprasanna

Tabla - Uday Raj Kapoor

Special Percussion - Pramath Kiran

Nagaswaram - Sri Lakshman and group

Veena - Ambarish Amaravadi and Ramya Raghavan

Vocal support - Uthra

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