Last Sunday (6 March 2011) I attended a concert organised by Milapfest at London's Southbank Centre. It was a groundbreaking event in South Asian Classical music with the presentation of the first ever National South Asian Music Orchestra. The event, aptly titled ‘Confluence’ marked the coming together of two existing South Asian music orchestras, Samyo and Tarang, playing a new genre of Indian music which was at once modern, traditional, contemporary and classical.
Led by Samyo & Tarang conductors Gaurav Mazumdar and Manorama Prasad, the orchestra performed a repertoire of specially composed music which was entertaining and inspiring. The list of composers represented some of India’s best musicians, including Carnatic superstar Bombay Jayashri. The evening ended on a high with a trip down memory lane, showcasing much-loved Bollywood songs from the 1960’s to present day, instantly connecting all generations present.
Confluence performed to a packed house, filled with music enthusiasts and many notable dignitaries including the High Commissioner of India, H.E Mr. Nalin Surie and Director of Nehru Centre, Monika Mohta.
The show also included the launch of Samyo’s first CD, Tributes, presented on stage by Samyo and Tarang patrons, Mr. Mukund Jobanputra and Mrs. Urmila Jobanputra
Given the Jobanputras' backing, it was not surprising to see a large Gujarati audience at the event, and I felt proud of the support that the Gujarati community in London afforded to such a great event.
Particularly striking, in respect of Samyo, was the sheer youth of the orchestra. Samyo is a young orchestra, membership of which is availed to under 18's only. In the video above you can see that some of the members are very young - my guess is that the young boys playing the violins are perhaps just over 8 years old!
The South Asian youth in Britain desperately needs more outlets such as these. This is a great way to expose the South Asian youth in Britain to the enriching effects of South Asian classical music. When you create constructive channels of energy for youth, you secure the development of a pluralist, passionate and promising generation that is safeguarded against the rapidly growing tentacles of extremism and seclusion.