When the beat drops...
...Ramiro Arista doesn't shy away from dancing while conducting. This evening, the Argentine presents a concert of romantic melodies and Latino-American rhythms with the Bombay Chamber Orchestra.
It is Ramiro Arista's first visit to India. Seated at the lobby of an art deco hotel in Churchgate where he's staying, he tells me that he feels at home, exactly like in Latin America. Then, he explains why. "Mumbai is a lot like São Salvador da Bahia. Here, 'Bom Bahia' means a good place for the ships to come, and Salvador in the north of Brazil is similar — for instance, this idea of old buildings in a road lined with trees."
His interest in geography is accompanied by an animated way of demonstrating every word and it's hard to dismiss him as just another conductor. The Argentine has worked with over 70 orchestras across the globe, including Ukraine's Transcarpathian Regional Philharmonic and Russia's Saint Petersburg Philharmonic. He approached the Bombay Chamber Orchestra (BCO) a year ago, one of the few names he came across on his search for Indian orchestras. An admirer of BCO's founder nonagenarian, Jini Dinshaw, this evening, he will take the stage with them and noted violinist Nicolas Koeckert in a concert of romantic classics and Latin American rhythms including La Bamba and Libertango.
At 13, Arista started learning to play the keyboard, transitioning to the piano and the viola, eventually joining a student orchestra. The feeling of family appealed to him and he found his calling in being a conductor. "I also studied history in Argentina, so I had a very strong cultural and social background. I thought being a conductor would also help me discover the culture, philosophy, aesthetics and language of other cities," he shares.
Arista, 44, has acquired a reputation for being his energetic self as a conductor, breaking into an occasional dance when the music calls for it. This, he feels, is often misunderstood as dance in response to what the orchestra is performing when in fact, it's the opposite. He is creating the music along with the orchestra. He adds, "I am conveying the tempo and articulation. If I perform melancholic music, I will conduct it in a soft, quiet way. If it is implied that the tune is a cry for something, I will show this crying. If it's Latin American [music], I will dance to show them the energy. It's like being a cook. You cannot use the ingredients of a chicken biryani to prep for risotto or paella."
So, Arista doesn't call himself the dancing conductor although he certainly will encourage the audience at today's concert to break a leg. "If I want the orchestra to play dance music, I must make the audience feel that. I must conduct for the feet of the people, to make them say, 'I want to wake up and dance'."
On Today, 6.30 pm onwards
At Sophia Bhabha Auditorium, Breach Candy, Cumballa Hill.
Log on to bookmyshow.in
Cost Rs 300 onwards
Arista at the rehearsal with Nicolas Koeckert (in blue)
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