Suzanne Heywood’s memoir Wavewalker is not one that you can take in one sitting. The reason for it is that the book is filled with stories that come out of living in a confined space for 10 years, almost, as Heywood says, like in a prison. At the age of seven, she and her brother began sailing with their family on a schooner called Wavewalker to commemorate the 200-year anniversary of captain James Cook. The journey was hardly celebratory for the family. Instead, during this time, the children were learning to sit ‘on deck rubbing down the hatches and the gunwales with sandpaper,’ searching for food and fuel to help their father strike off places from the map, face sea storms, and fight sleep deprivation. This is a Joseph Conrad story that comes to life, except it is tougher. By the end of the book, you would have finished experiencing the everyday struggles of a child who grows up amidst water.
Of course, Heywood’s book is not against the activity of sailing itself. Her writing is clear and sharp. It suggests itself as a warning on what not to do as parents, considering the entire adventure took place because of her father’s desire to follow Cook’s third voyage. It isn’t a surprise, then, that some of the best and intimate moments in the book, and also for the two children during the 10-year voyage, were the stops they made and the people they encountered on land and aboard the ship. Although all of them were beyond Heywood and her brother’s age, they helped replace long periods of loneliness with brief minutes of comfort, company, and light conversations.
As a reader, one should not expect the writer to wax lyrical about the sea. Nor can you expect a style that is meditative. That is not her intention. What she offers instead is a book with a great deal of tension, injuries, wreckage, a yearning for education, and a complete lack of parental attention or contact. It is not an easy book to read but it is a relevant one that teaches us much about care, and what it took for Heywood to fight for survival.
TITLE: WavewalkerAUTHOR: Suzanne HeywoodGENRE: Memoir/Non-fictionPUBLISHER: Harper Collins Publishers IndiaCOST: Rs 699
When it comes to food, one cannot go wrong with Italian cuisine. If you are looking for something to get you through a tough week, then head over to Santacruz for a taste of the diversity that hides in the food from Sicily to Palermo. Italian chef Raffaele Parisi and chef Aabhas Mehrotra arrive in the city with a curation of special dishes ranging from herbed garlic scrochiarella to the secrets of mariana and puttanesca. If you wish for an Indian twist, try the lal maas scrochiarella that blends the Indian tradition of lal maas with a very Italian style preparation or the pizza alla diavola with its unique twist of pulled lamb and burrata. The event promises to be a haven for foodies who are keen to discover more to Italian cuisine than pizza and pasta.
ON Tomorrow; 11 am onwards AT Foodsquare, Linking Road, Santacruz West. LOG ON TO foodsquare.co.in ENTRY Free
Growing up, understanding poetry and deciphering what the poet was trying to convey through intricately woven words was a rollercoaster ride for this writer. As we grow older and wiser, the same complexity becomes a benchmark to gauge a composition’s quality. Sunil Kumar Gurjar AKA Rahgir, a singer-songwriter from Sikar, Rajasthan, tells us he couldn’t disagree more. The poet, who is in the city for a solo performance today shares, “Music for the masses need not translate to lazy music. If a song makes you scan the dictionary to make sense of every line, how will you truly enjoy the experience of listening? Sometimes the songs with the simplest words can evoke the deepest emotions in you.”
A moment from the music video of Rahgira mila Kabir se. Pic Courtesy/Youtube
Rahgir’s repertoire of about 50 songs that includes hits like Kaccha ghada and Mere gaon aaoge, speaks volumes about the influence of Rajasthani folklore and poetry on his works. Like many folk musicians, the artiste quotes Kabir, the poet-saint in his songs, but with an interesting caveat. The composition Rahgira mila Kabir se is a conversation between the musician and Kabir, where he asks the saint to rethink his poems. Referring to Kabir’s lines that translate to “Do not strive to be great like a date palm tree, as it neither gives shade to travellers nor allows its fruit to be plucked with ease,” Rahgir responds, “The tree was once shorter, its foliage providing shade to many. Perhaps they plucked all its fruits and didn’t bother watering it, and the tree grew taller in disdain.”
Sunil Kumar Gurjar
When asked if his recent tryst with Instagram fame will change this bold and candid style of writing, the artiste notes, “Fame was never the ultimate goal. I have been backpacking across the country armed with a guitar and a few friends even before people knew me. That’s how I got my name, Rahgir [traveller in Hindi]. With a wider reach, I do receive some brickbats every now and then for my frank perspectives, but I will continue writing the way I do. I want to stay true to myself.”
Rahgir signs off with his reminiscences of his brief visits to Mumbai, adding, “Mumbai has always welcomed me with open arms. I would busk on the streets of Juhu and Carter Road in 2017. It has been a while since then, but I still remember how folks would always stop by and leave some words of encouragement for me. That was, and continues to be, the biggest reward for me as an artiste.”
ON Today; 8 pmAT ASPEE Auditorium, Laxminarayan Mandir Complex, Malad-Marve Road, Malad West.LOG ON TO in.bookmyshow.com COST Rs 499 onwards
This year, celebrations for Thespo’s milestone festival edition will unravel through the theme — A stage for every shade — all next week.
Co-founder Toral Shah shares, “This milestone is a testament to the theatre community, for them wanting to make the industry stronger, viable and more vibrant. With the senior members of the community giving time and expertise in workshops and conversations, and young storytellers scripting plays, this milestone is a shared movement. The main highlight of this 25th edition is our collaborations.”
Among them is as a presentation of Sinhalese writer Ruwantha de Chickera’s Ping by the Stages Theatre Group from Sri Lanka. Another inventive performance is by writer Jino J Ampakkadu, who will host his Table and Stool initiative, where passers-by can pull up a chair and narrate their story to an audience of one — Ampakkadu himself.
Prithvi Theatre. File pic
The festival will also witness playwright, actor and director Satish Alekar being honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his profound work in Marathi theatre. A short film on Alekar’s work will be screened on the evening followed by a conversation with the theatre maker.
ON December 4 to December 10 AT Prithvi Theatre, Juhu; Veda Kunba Theatre, Four Bungalows, Andheri West. LOG ON TO thespo.org/register
The Guide’s top picks:
Arghya Lahiri at a workshop during a previous edition
December 4. Light it upLearn about the essential and underrated art of stage lighting with writer-director Arghya Lahiri at this Magic Hour workshop.ON Monday, December 4; 10 am to 8 pm AT Prithvi Theatre, Juhu. EMAIL thespo25 @thespo.org CALL 241642142 (for details) COST Rs 3,000 (fees and refundable deposit included)
Henry Naylor. Pic Courtesy/Henrynaylor.co.uk
December 5. Write way to laughBritish playwright Henry Naylor will bring his insight into, and guide participants through the secret to cracking the difficult art of comedy, timing and nuance at this two-day workshop.ON December 5 and December 6; 10 am onwards AT Prithvi House, Juhu. EMAIL email@example.com CALL 241642142 (for details)COST Rs 1,900 (fees and refundable deposit included)
. Hear them outListen to a spoken verse performance of Sinhalese playwright Ruwantha de Chickera’s Ping that delves into the concerns of teenagers in a new age.TIME 3.30 pmAT Prithvi Adda, Juhu.EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.orgCALL 241642142 (for details)FREE
Amit Vikram Pandey
. Poetic eveningsJoin Vanika Sangtiani, Gunjan Saini, Amit Vikram Pandey and other poets and creators as they share their journey through poetry.TIME 6 pm to 6.45 pmAT Prithvi Theatre foyer, Juhu.FREE
December 6. Middle class marvelThe late Shiv Subrahmanyam’s work returns to his favourite haunt starting with this deep dive into an artiste’s struggle with the Indian middle class in Clogged Arteries.TIME 3.30 pmAT Prithvi Adda, Juhu.FREE
. Social examinationExplore the drama of the romance, humour and horror that flourishes amid the rising fears of communal riots in a deeply moving play centred around humanism in Karwat. TIME 7 pmAT Prithvi House, Juhu.FREE
December 7. Lead by designHow do you transform the stage into a magical world of its own? Production designer on films such as Ankhon Dekhi and Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Meenal Agarwal’s workshop for stagehands explores practical production design.ON December 7 and December 8; 10 am onwards AT Prithvi House, Juhu. EMAIL email@example.comCALL 241642142 (for details)COST Rs 1,700 (fees and refundable deposit included)
. Fringe performanceMuslim Mythology by Mohammed Ellyas Lehry transforms you into an audience for a few real, a few fictional, and all extraordinary stories by Muslim theatre-makers.ON December 7; 7 pm to 8 pmAT Prithvi House, Juhu.LOG ON TO thespo.org/registerFREE
December 8. Relearn stagecraftA perfect opportunity for actors, this workshop is hosted by actor-director Heeba Shah who will demonstrate the right way to use body, voice and imagination to refine your craft on stage.ON December 8, 1.30 pm; December 9, 10 amAT Prithvi House, Juhu.EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.orgCALL 241642142 (for details)COST Rs 2,100 (fees and refundable deposit included)
Actors rehearse the play, A Study of Fear
. Facing the truthA Study of Fear revolves around a friend’s funeral that those grieving are not prepared for. This multi-lingual play, that is written and directed by Atif Ally Dagman, invites the audience to find fun in funerals.ON December 8; 6 pm and 9 pmAT Prithvi Theatre, Juhu.LOG ON TO in.bookmyshow.comCOST Rs 350
A moment from the Korean play, Shim Cheong
December 9. Tales from the East Catch a retelling of the ancient Korean folktale about love and sacrifice told through the journey of Shim Cheong, whose love for her father leads her to some miraculous discoveries. TIME 6 pm and 9 pm AT Prithvi Theatre, Janki Kutir, Juhu. LOG ON TO in.bookmyshow.comCOST Rs 350
December 10. Awards nightON December 8 and 9; 3.30 pm (reading of Satish Alekar’s works); December 10; 6 pm to 8.30 pm (presentation ceremony) AT Prithvi Adda, Juhu; Veda Kunba Theatre, Andheri West. LOG ON TO thespo.org/registerFREE
What does redefining boundaries mean to you? Much like the concept of boundaries, the answer to the question remains fluid and subjective. For some, it means going beyond the limitations that they set for themselves, or breaking the confines of what society limits them to. For others like Aruvi, scriptwriter of Nooramma Biriyani Durbar, a play that portrays the struggles of the transgender community through food, their mere existence is an act of redefining boundaries. Aruvi, with a host of other artistes who share the passion for reshaping narratives through art will rendezvous today at Should Art 2023: Boundary, a performing arts festival conceptualised by G5A Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes contemporary art.
Musicians from the Manganiar and Langa communities will make a return this year
When asked about the defining moment that sparked the idea for its theme, Anuradha Parikh, its artistic director, shares a poignant insight, “It is not one isolated moment, but the compounding of multiple events in the past months that necessitated the focus on the idea of boundary as a theme this year. Today, the world is so much closer, yet it is extremely fragmented and different — in thought, voice, and action.”
Fellow artistic director Ishan Benegal, who shares this concern, will kick off the festival this evening with the launch of his immersive art installation titled Textures of Sand where visitors can step into a black box-like room to witness the artist’s portrayal of the passage of time, evolution and the concept of oneness using sand.
Ishan Benegal, Tanuj Nair and Anuradha Parikh
Hidden in the expansive line-up for the upcoming days are performances of puppetry by the Magicians of Kathputli Colony from Delhi, a presentation of contemporary Urdu poetry and its new-age proponents by Javed Akhtar, a cerebral comedy set by Punit Punia, a free writing workshop by Gaysi Family, and a hip-hop street showcase by headed by Tanuj Nair.
“Hip-hop as a culture has always been about growth and opening new doors to artistic and individualistic expression. The culture has brought down global boundaries and made an impact through music, dance and art. Our piece is about five individuals, expression of their personal boundaries and how those boundaries connect them and us to this culture,” shares Nair. We learn that visitors can attend a handful of workshops and performances free of cost.
This writer couldn’t help but wonder — Can a three-week event nestled in Mumbai’s financial centre really leave a mark in the grand scheme of things? TM Krishna, resident curator, assures us that no effort goes unseen. Sharing a hopeful message, he concludes, “The goal is to create a conversation between diverse groups of artistes. The conversations need not lead to agreements, but as long as there is listening, there will be movement. Elation, discomfort and vulnerability can co-exist in the audience’s experience.”
On: December 1 to December 3, 12 noon onwards; December 7 to December 10, 5 pm onwards; December 13 to December 17, 5 pm onwards At: G5A, Laxmi Mills, off Dr E Moses Road, Mahalaxmi West. Log on to: insider.inCost: Rs 75 onwards
In an attempt to reconcile the youth with their urban heritage, INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) recently introduced a photography and essay competition, aptly titled Capture Culture for undergraduate collegians. All you have to do is take up the responsibility of a conservationist, identify an endangered heritage around you, and write a 1,000-word essay with at least two high resolution pictures.
“Heritage can be anything,” explains Katyayani Agarwal, convenor of the Mumbai chapter of the NGO. “It can even simply be a tale your nani kept reading out to you at bedtime. The idea is to get the youth involved in documenting the heritage they carry but may lose,” she says, adding they will declare 30 regional winners and five national winners.
Each entry must be accompanied by a filled questionnaire used for research. The essay can be handwritten or typed on an A4 size sheet, must include suggestions to preserve the chosen heritage, and be sent to the convenor either via email or to the Heritage Education Communication and Service office in Delhi.
Last date of submission: March 15, 2024To register: Heritage Education Communication and Service, INTACH 71, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi; email@example.comLog on to: @intachmumbai
ThursdayPair it with peru
It’s never a bad time to eat peru. Begin your weekend with this limited-edition guava menu that features the fleshy fruit in pancakes, tarts, and unique beverages. We think that the ultimate showstopper among these is the classic but never-failing fresh guava lemonade (right) with its playful pink tones in a tall glass. Time: 9 am to 12 noonAt: Jamjar Diner, Versova and Bandra outletsCall: 7506640066; 9619000365
If art is on your mind, KaalaSpandan Art Fair will give you a lot to savour. Showcasing mandala art, photography and Madhubani art, among others, expect artefacts and designer concepts by masters and artists from across the country.Till: December 3; 11 am to 7 pmAt: Nehru Science Centre, Jijamata Nagar, WorliLog on to: indianartfair.net.in (for details)
Meet the real Annapurna Devi
A file photo of the sitarist in concert
Witness Hindustani music legend Annapurna Devi, also known as Maa with her disciples, in this rare documentary. Can a musician exist without an audience? Follow Nityanand Haldipur as he clears the air to share the icon’s real story. The director will also be present for a movie discussion after the screening session. Time: 6.30 pm onwardsAt: Godrej Dance Theatre, NCPA, Nariman PointEntry: First come, first serve
Joie De Vivre by 88 — The Piano Academy will feature close to 200 multi-instrumental performances by children (some as young as three years old) from across city schools.Time: 3.45 pm onwardsAt: Sophia Bhabha Auditorium, Sophia College, Breach Candy. Log on to: in.bookmyshow.comCost: Rs 944 onwards
Fight for your castle
Gamers at a previous boardgame tournament
If you ever had a palace, what would it look like? Make these daydreams come true at this tournament of the popular boardgame, Azul, where you’re required to decorate your palace using tiles. Standard rules will be applied, and points will be given on aspects like who has the most horizontal lines, in case of a tie-breaker.Time: 11 am onwards At: Mind Games Café, GNP Arcadia, opposite Pendharkar College, Dombivli EastEntry: Rs 200 Log on to: @mindgamescafe
SundayPotters at play
As the season of gifting nears, make the most of this market that will display ceramic tableware, wall decor, sculptures, garden decor by over 26 studio potters from Mumbai and the country.Time: 11 am to 8 pmAt: Vintage Garden, Patkar Bungalow, Turner Road, BandraCall: 9820464960
Go local in Lonavala
Escape to the hill station of Lonavala to catch its early winter charm. Sign up for various workshops and activities hosted by the Lonavala Local such as an intimate drum circle amid nature (above), tours and local food trails, resin art, and much more.At: Various venues across LonavalaLog on to: @lonavalalocalCall: 9820068611
Santa is here
Why wait for December 25 when you can celebrate Christmas right now? Enrol yourself for this flea that promises festive games and food, a meet and greet with Santa Claus, and a chance to witness a special Christmas parade!Time: 12 pm to 7 pm At: Khar Gymkhana, Khar West.
It might not snow in Mumbai, but kids are already beginning to hum to Jingle Bells. As the season of Advent is observed, early orders for Christmas cakes are being placed, recipes are shared across window sills, and local music bands are holding rehearsals for the upcoming season. For Niloufer Rohira and Darren Das, producers and concept designers of the show, That Christmas Spirit and So Much More! 2.0, this began back in August itself. The weekend show at St Andrews Auditorium will kickstart the festivities of the season with a story filled with music and melodies.
Suneeta Rao and George Joseph at a rehearsal
The idea emerged at the end of last year’s show itself. Rohira explains, “We wanted to offer more than just Christmas carols for the audience. Hence, the term ‘and so much more’.” This feeling is evoked through the ensemble of performers, brought together anew for every edition. The weekend will see performances by vocalists Suneeta Rao, Das, Keshia B, Subhash Kamath, Amber Smith and Bianca Rosemeyer with Russell Fernandes, Sylvester Chaves and Wilburn D’Costa bringing up the orchestration alongside Enrico Rodrigues, George Joseph and Rajeev Raja. Though Raja was present through the rehearsals, a commitment means that he would have to perform through video.
A moment from the 2022 concert
The first edition of the production in 2022 was an attempt to shake off the COVID-19 hangover. She says, “We wanted to get people to come out, have a good time, and recall the joy of Christmas. That’s how the idea was born. The response encouraged us to go further.”
Das remarks, “Last year, we had Gary Lawyer, Siddharth Meghani and Giselle Pinto, among others. This time, it is a new ensemble. It is important to give the audience something different, whether it is in the arrangement or the choice of carols. Except for Feliz Navidad. It is an up-tempo anthem and then again, it won’t be Christmas without Feliz Navidad.”
Niloufer Rohira and Darren Das
The concert is not all music. Each song is part of a narrative that stitches the two-hour long performance together, he says. “There has to be a story, a musical trivia that connects them and engages the audience. We try to involve every artiste, their keys, voice textures and styles to make the best of it,” he says. It is also one of the reasons why the setlist expands beyond carols. Das notes that all the songs carry the Christmas spirit within them, but they are performed with individuality. “For instance, Tirthankar Poddar AKA 2Blue brings his rock vocals to the traditional caroling, while Rao brings her distinctive vocal style to the mix,” notes Rohira.
Another aspect of the performance is the community experience, the duo admits. “Christmas is about people. There are many supporters who simply turn up for our rehearsals to encourage us. It has become a bond between the community and the musicians,” Rohira points out. These visits also bring a touch of the Christmas spirit to the rehearsals. Das says, “Many of them turn up with festive food that they have prepared. A plate of biryani, some ice cream or a home-made cake. It doesn’t get more Christmas-ey than that.” Hard to argue with that one.
On: December 3; 7.30 pmAt: St Andrews Auditorium, St Dominic Road, Bandra West. Log on to: in.bookmyshow.comCost: Rs 708 onwards
The choral trail
The Paranjoti Academy Chorus led by Firdause Wadia will perform Christmas music from around the world across five different venues in town. Drop in for some merry music.
On: December 2; 8 pm At: St Anthony’s Church, Vakola, Santacruz East.
On: December 3; 7.30 pmAt: St Anne’s Church, Nesbit Road, Mazgaon.
On: December 6; 8 pmAt: St Peter’s Church, Hill Road, Bandra West.
On: December 9; 7.30 pmAt: St John the Baptist Church, Talao Pali, Thane West.
On: December 10; 7 pmAt: St Thomas’ Cathedral, Fort.
Cue to the early 2000s, if you ever attended a massive food and beverage exposition with your friends, or with your family as a child, we’ll bet our money that it would have been the UpperCrust Food and Wine Show. one of India’s finest culinary events will celebrate its 20th anniversary this time, with mid-day as the media partner, showing us why this OG still rules the roost. Founder-editor of UpperCrust Magazine and curator of the show, Farzana Contractor shares, “Twenty years ago, UpperCrust was the first to start live cooking demos with top chefs, and 20 years later, we’re still at it, tracking the best people in the business.”
Nooror Somany and Farzana Contractor
With 3,000 sq ft of the World Trade Centre, the show packs food stalls with a variety of offerings including products from global cuisines to new items in the market to cater to every taste, literally. “One of the USPs of the show is that people have a chance to interact, taste and discuss the food and products with the owners of these businesses,” Contractor adds. A few years ago, the food event curated a space for home chefs, a growing and popular market.
This will be the third edition of the show’s Home Chef Studio, on day two where home chefs will participate in cook-offs, be mentored by industry stalwarts and be judged by celebrity chefs. Don’t miss out on the live cooking demonstrations by renowned names in the F&B industry including chef Meghna Kadam, chef Nooror Somany, chef Mayukh Mazumdar among others that have been slotted across days one and three. Cap the day with music by Indira Naik on day two and 2 Girlz And A Guitar on day three.
On: December 1 to 3; 10 am to 8 pmAt: World Trade Center, Cuffe ParadeLog on to: @uppercrustmag
Do you hear the Christmas bells ringing? It comes from Bandra’s 106-year-old The Salsette Catholic Co-operative Housing Society Ltd. (SCCHSL). It was founded in 1918 by Francis Anthony Cyril Rebello, the former accountant general of Bombay Presidency, and father of the co-operative movement for Catholics in West India. In keeping with the society’s aim to bring together and serve the community, SCCHSL will usher in the first Christmas seated music concert of the season that will be held this weekend at the D’Monte Park Recreation Centre lawns.
(From left) Marie Paul; Mimosa Pinto and Ella Atai
After an edition in 2021 titled Swinging with the Stars and a follow-up concert last year with the ongoing theme — Starry Starry Night, A Magical Christmas in the Park — this year’s concert brings in popular names curated by The Sassy Songbirds, an all-women’s harmony-based music group of Marie Paul, Ella Atai and Mimosa Almeida Pinto. Paul tells us, “We change the curation for each edition. This year, we opened it up to singers in the industry. We’ve got a mixed bag of ballads, rock and roll, blues, jazz and more, by solo performers, The band is put together by Mimosa, and compered by Shahriyar Atai who knows the pulse of the Bandra audience.”
Asif Ali Beg
But ask the multi-hyphenated artiste Shahriyar Atai about his preparations and the singer says, “I mostly play it by ear, and feed off the energy of the audience.” Atai continues, “Each edition, I bring in different Christmas characters. Last year, I was Rudolf, and this year, I am the green guy with a heart too small — the Grinch!” Returning to the stage this year, Atai will perform an original track sung as the Grinch. He will also put up a stall by his venture Bhonu Appetite, serving Parsi favourites with a twist.
Reiterating the line-up of the star-studded show, Atai adds, “The stars are going to be on the earth instead of the sky.” We know he’s referring to names including Asif Ali Beg, an artiste whose performance is anticipated with bated breath. Beg shares, “For me, Christmas isn’t about Santa and snowmen, I chose a medley of two songs that share the real story of Christmas. One is called Gabriel’s message, and the other is a traditional Irish song. I’m also adding a surprise jolly number to my performance.”
Beg tells us that he’s a fan of The Sassy Songbirds, but he’s not the only one. At an earlier show this year, Ella Atai’s stage entry and exit was met with an ovation and a few ‘We love you, Ella!’ cheers. For this concert, Atai remarks, “I’ll be singing This is Christmas, keeping sight of the true spirit of the season. It’s a song that centres on the birth of Jesus.” The show will end with a curtain call where every artiste will sing the concert’s anthem called A Christmas wish for you, composed by The Sassy Songbirds.
The SCCHSL continues to light up their streets during the festive season, fostering a sense of celebrating Christmas together. Secretary Cornel K Gonsalves shares that the festivities grew from there. Along with the concert, the society will hold an upcoming Christmas bazaar, housie night, and a January-end barbeque that has been running for over a decade. “This concert is our signature show. It’s a way to bring the community together,” Gonsalves concludes.
On: December 2; 7 pm onwards (gates open at 6.15 pm; first-come, first-serve basis).At: DPRC Lawn, St Andrews Road, Bandra West.Tickets Buy tickets at the DPRC officeCost: Rs 475
For those who came of age during the ’90s, the term ‘video game soundtrack’ evokes memories of Super Mario Bros’ familiar opening tune or the 8-bit melodies accompanying journeys through Pokémon worlds on Nintendos. Video game music has evolved by leaps and bounds since then. A testament to this evolution arrived with the Grammy Awards introducing a new category in 2023 — Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media. We check out five tracks that were nominated for the 2024 Grammy Awards in February.
God of War: Ragnarok: Bear McCreary
While we expected the usual cinematic orchestral arrangement with large-hall reverb in a game that places you in the shoes of a character who embodies the spirit of war, this score shines through with its thunderous percussion and emotive strings, reminiscent of Norse mythology. The use of Scandinavian folk instruments for powerful crescendos and haunting melodies adds authenticity, enhancing the game’s Viking-inspired themes. This is our pick to win the coveted trophy in 2024.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II: Sarah Schachner
The good news is that sections featuring a marriage of strings, brass, and synth textures create a soundscape that immerses the player in the game’s warfare-heavy gameplay. The let-down is that these sections are like needles in a haystack. While the score stands out in such moments, the arrangement and mixing of the score might be a tad relaxed at times for a high-action game.
Star Wars: Jedi Survivor: Stephen Barton and Gordy Haab
The first few seconds of the opening track were enough to evoke a mental image of the landscape of a deserted Star Wars planet in this reviewer’s mind. The bold brass, majestic sustained choir sections, and the signature sweeping strings seem like a hat tip to John Williams’ original movie score. There’s not much to say about this one other than it feels like a Star Wars score. While sitting through the four-hour soundtrack was not feasible, sections that sound fresh were few and far between.
Hogwarts Legacy: Peter Murray, J Scott Rakozy and Chuck E Myers
The enchanting melodies carried majorly by strings and woodwinds transport you straight to Hogwarts. The score does a delightful job at blending classical orchestration and whimsical elements without making it seem too forced, capturing the magic and wonder of the wizarding world perfectly. The score’s playful vibe complements the game’s adventurous spirit, and makes for an immersive listening experience overall.
Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical: Jess Serro, Tripod, and Austin Wintory
Roleplaying musicals are a novel game genre by themselves. So, we dive into this one expecting a few surprises and it’s safe to say that the soundtrack is full of them — featuring orthodox theatrical compositions with cellos and violins to unplugged a capellas and even, contemporary jazz tracks. While a handful of these tracks sound generic and passé, this score gets brownie points for blurring the lines between a video game and a captivating musical experience.
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