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'There are some Bollywood stars of the future here'

Michael Bawtree, a visiting conductor at the Mehli Mehta Foundation has trained 232 city children including the underprivileged to join their voices and take over the stage together for The Singing Tree concert

This Saturday, be enthralled with the Folk songs of Bengal, Ireland as well as Scotland as children — from Godrej Udayachal School and underprivileged children in schools run by the NGOs, Aseema and Muktangan — match notes at the National Centre for Performing Arts under the aegis of British musician Michael Bawtree.

The Singing Tree concert
The concert will include 232 children as part of the choir that have been practising on Sundays at Max Mueller Bhavan for almost four hours at a stretch, since the last seven weeks

Bawtree has been the resident choir conductor at the Foundation for the last two months and has thoroughly enjoyed the project since his last Indian outing — the Calcutta Chamber Orchestra that was almost 10 years ago.

Michael Bawtree
Michael Bawtree

Commenting on his experience, he shares, “I am the latest in a number of musicians from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland who have travelled to Mumbai to work at the Mehli Mehta Music Foundation. I knew I wanted to return to India (after Kolkata) as soon as the possibility of this project was mentioned. Of course, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra also paid a visit to Mumbai in April, and several children who are singing in this project attended the BBC outreach projects.”

Considering it another promising encounter with talent, Bawtree informs that he has been particularly impressed with, “how the young singers from Udayachal School in Vikhroli have thrown themselves into this project.” Though he found motivating them and inculcating discipline during practice challenging, he feels that has nothing to do with their background. Rather, he hopes that these qualities will remain with them for life. “I would predict that there are some Bollywood stars of the future in their ranks!” he sums up, optimistically.

Divulging on what the city audiences can expect, this weekend, he says, “Coming from Glasgow, which has just hosted the Commonwealth Games, I was keen to have both a Scottish and sports theme to the programme. The children will sing Folk songs from Scotland (as well as Ireland and Bengal!) alongside settings of one of Scotland’s best-loved poets and storytellers, Robert Louis Stevenson. The spirit of the Games will be clear in the final piece, Going for Gold.” Given Bawtree’s love for Contemporary Western music, the performance by 232 children will resound long after the evening concludes.

On: August 30, 6.30 pm
At: Tata Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.
Call: 22824567

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