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Review: Blighty at last – Leisure News

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For its spring season, the Symphony Orchestra of India will tour the UK, as well as India, with tabla maestro Zakir Hussain.

Review: Blighty at last

Symphonic stories: Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain with the Symphony Orchestra of India.

For National Centre of Performing Arts (NCPA) chairman Khushroo N Suntook, the Symphony Orchestra of India’s (SOI) maiden tour of the UK this spring season is “a dream come true”. The tour is a realisation of the vision of NCPA founder Jamshed J Bhabha.

It was Suntook who conceived the plan to create India’s first professional symphony orchestra over a decade ago and convinced Marat Bisengaliev (who was “intrigued by the challenge”) to form an orchestra of musicians from his native Kazakhstan and India in 2004.

This season, as he performs as the soloist in violin concertos by composers Camille Saint-Saëns and Max Bruch in London with his team, along with the eminent tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, SOI music director Bisengaliev, too, will surely experience a bit of exhilaration.

The season, beginning on February 4 at Mumbai’s Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, promises variety and appeal. While Berlioz’s concert overture, Roman Carnival, is a crowd-pleaser with its exuberant carnival spirit, Carl Maria von Weber’s Oberon has been described as “a masterpiece of operatic orchestration”.

In Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade and Hussain’s tabla concerto Peshkar (an SOI commission), east will not only meet west, but merge ideas and perceptions in a marvellous cross-cultural exchange. It is clear why the two have been paired together. The former is music of the Orient viewed through the filter of a western aesthetic in instrumentation and structure, while Hussain’s work “blends the rhythmic elements of Hindustani music with expressive melodies for symphonic instruments”, says Zane Dalal, SOI associate music director. “It is a great honour to introduce this marvellous piece to British audiences.”

Dalal will share the podium with the English National Opera’s (ENO) conductor Martyn Brabbins, who describes the SOI as “an orchestra that wants to give all it can”. Under his baton, the SOI will play Sergei Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2 and Ludwig van Beethoven’s masterful Ninth Symphony. The choral movement of the latter will feature soloists from both India and abroad, and a choir comprising Kazakh and Indian singers.

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