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Tamil Nadu's tribute to Mozart, in six select Carnatic ragas

Tamil Nadu's tribute to Mozart, in six select Carnatic ragas

Author: Jaya Menon
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: August 13, 2006
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/iep/sunday/story/10498.html

As the world celebrates the 250th birth anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Chennai, known for its tradition of Carnatic music, has come up with its own tribute to the 18th century Austrian composer. A composition, titled Mozart meets India, which blends Western orchestra with Carnatic ragas, is set to hit the world market on August 25.

The Kaapi, Banduvarali, Bilahari, Sankarabaranam, Sindhu Bhairavi and Hamsananthi, the six popular Carnatic ragas have been set to western score by more than 75 instrumentalists and vocalists. The six compositions of 10 minutes each, however, have nothing to do with the creations of Mozart.

''The title is more allegoric as we consider Mozart the greatest composer of symphonies. Mozart Meets India is an orchestral tribute to the master-composer whose 250th birth anniversary is being celebrated the world over,'' said Father Gasper Raj of Tamil Maiyam, which produced the album.

Instruments like the sitar, veena, bamboo flutes, shenoy, violins and violas have kept rhythm with well-known Carnatic singer of the Lalgudi tradition, Bombay Jayashreee, now a popular playback singer and O S Arun. The orchestra comprises Kadri Gopalnath (saxophone), L Kishore Kumar (sitar), 27 violinists including Embar Kannan, A K Devi on the veena, guitarist Arun Pandian, 11 violas, cellos, flautists, mridangists and 40 chorus singers.

Tamil Maiyam, a city-based non-profit trust promoting art and culture, shot to fame with its grand ambitious musical venture - the Thiruvasagam in Symphonic Oratorio.

But Thiruvasagam, with its intrinsic Tamil flavour, failed to reach the targeted crossover audience despite three-time Oscar winner Stephen Schwartz working on the lyrics in English and the 140-year-old Budapest Symphony Orchestra setting the score. Maiyam hopes that Mozart meets India would do better with its ''universal harmony'' to delight a world audience.

It is a Tirunelveli youth, Nellai Jesuraj, who has composed the orchestral score for this venture.

''We have blended threads of Carnatic melody with the explorative versatility of Western harmony... (but) have retained their individual grammar, discipline and identity,'' said composer Jesuraj. The final mixing was done in the US by Ian Cross, who works for Janet Jackson and Manoj Night Shyamalan.


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