Indian orchestra revisited

Mar 31, 2013, 06:59 IST | Rinky Kumar

Ashit Desai, celebrated singer, composer and conductor of Pt Ravi Shankar's compositions, pays an ode to the late sitar maestro and aims to revive the Indian classical music orchestra tradition through a 40-piece ensemble, Vadyavrind, at the Nehru Centre

Late Pandit Ravi Shankar played an instrumental role in reviving Vadyavrind or the tradition of Indian classical music orchestra that was first started by Ustad Allauddin Khan in 1938 during the Second World War.

Four pieces composed by Pt Ravi Shankar
Four pieces composed by Pt Ravi Shankar will be performed at Vadyavrind

At that time, Ustadji picked up children, who were turned orphans by the brutal war, and honed them into musicians for his Indian orchestra band titled Mahiyar. Taking a cue from Ustadji, Pt Ravi Shankar conducted Vadyavrind at the opening ceremony of the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi and also at Russia in 1986 at the Festival of India.

Ashit Desai along with his wife Hema will also sing at the orchestra
Ashit Desai along with his wife Hema will also sing at the orchestra 

Celebrated singer, music composer and conductor Ashit Desai, who has worked closely with Panditji and assisted him at these two events, will now conduct Vadyavrind as an ode to the sitar maestro with a 40-piece orchestral ensemble at Nehru Centre on April 6.

He will be assisted by his son tabla player and song writer Aalap while renowned musicians including flute player Pandit Ronu Mazumdar, violinist Suresh Lalwani and sitarist Sunil Das will be part of the orchestra.

Desai says, “It was Panditji’s dream to make the Vadyavrind as famous as the New York Philharmonic symphony orchestra. After his death, I thought it was my duty to revive Vadyavrind and pay tribute to him.”

Describing the music that will be played, he says, “We will use instruments like the violin, keyboard, sitar and perform melodies with 15 Indian choir singers. Four pieces composed by Panditji and four of my compositions in different raags and taals will also be performed.”

Satish Sahney, chief executive officer of the Nehru Centre, hopes this event will attract younger audiences to Indian classical music. “Unfortunately today’s youngsters don’t know about Vadyavrind. By organising this programme, we want to create an awareness among them about the significance of this form of music,” he concludes.

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