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 FEATURE # 62
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Music for peace
(08/04/2011)

Who says 'fusion music' often fails to impress? That it's more confusion than harmony? Listening to some of the most well-known contemporary violin players of the world at the concert Violins for Peace recently (G D Birla Sabhaghar, Kolkata), these doubts could be put to rest.
Conceived by L. Subramaniam, violin maestro, it brought together violinists from as far as USA, Norway, Algeria and Russia to showcase the versatility of the violin, whether adapted to Indian classical tradition or the gypsy music of Russia.

That music encompasses barriers of language and geographical borders to touch the listeners was once again vindicated at the concert.

For the average Indian, Algeria is a far-off land in north Africa.

But as Kheir Eddine M'kachiche put the bow to the violin it was as if the deserts, the blue waters of its Mediterranean coastline and the people came alive through the plaintive tones.

You also noticed that the violin was placed like a cello, that is, on the lap, unlike the traditional way in this performance.

Grammy award winner Mark O'Connor is a celebrated artiste world-wide. In his hands both classical and Wild West folk ethos come alive.

Norwegian Benedicte Maurseth plays a rare old-style Hardanger fiddle. Mournful and happy, her fiddle played them both. A bonus was the dirge she sang harking to the folk tradition of singing on the grave of the dead.

Catharina Chen of Norway specialises in classical numbers and her performance left no doubt about her talent that has brought numerous awards at home and abroad.

For Kolktans, a rare opportunity was to listen to Loyko, a band of three, from Russia, their violins and guitar throbbing with the vibrant Gypsy music with Jewish influences in Russia, reminiscent of the film Fiddler on the Roof.

L. Subramaniam, known as "God of Indian violin", and his able disciple and son 'Ambi' Subramaniam brought to the fore how the western musical instrument has been so beautifully adapted to Karnatic style of music to the accompaniment of traditional South Indian percussion instruments.

While each artiste played solo numbers, the show-stopper came at the end of the programme when L. Subramaniam's own composition blended all the styles and artistes in a harmonious whole that made the audience give a standing ovation.

Indeed, 'Violins for Peace' was an apt title for the concert. For, music encompasses apparent differences and carries the message of peace and harmony within its womb.

The event was a part of the Lakshminarayan Global Music Festival, established in 1992 as a tribute to V Lashminarayana, L. Subramaniam's father and guru. This year also happens to be his birth centenary and series of concerts across the country has a special significance.

According to a report from New Delhi, 'Violin for Peace' mesmerized audience in Gurgaon too after Kolkata.

The audiences at the concert hall were in a thrall as they witnessed the father-son duo of L.Subramaniam and Ambi Subhramaniam produce enchanting music.

Subramaniam said, "We have a desire to have a very special series of concerts to mark the centenary of my father and we realized that there could be no better way than to go back to his roots %u2013 the violin %u2013 and bring together some of the best players from around the world".

The concert was organized to mark the celebration of twenty years of the Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival (LGMF).


The concert represented the major musical styles from across the globe, starting from the Algerian violinist Kheir-Eddine, Norwegian hardanger fiddler Benedicte Maurseth, Bethel Tsuzu, Vladimir Bessonov, Michael Savichev, great country fiddle Mark O'Connor, Sergey Erdenko, classical violinist Catharina Chen, K. Sekar, Ramanamurthy, Sathya Sai and Stein.

Singer Kavita Krishnamurthy also marked her presence at the concert.

This concert will be performed all over the world with the hope of attracting more listeners to the captivating sound of Violin.
Ranjita Biswas/Kolkata/IBNS
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