REVIEW: India’s first western orchestra enthral Birmingham’s Symphony Hall
Zakir Hussain and the Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI) captivated thousands of classical music enthusiasts on the opening concert of their UK tour at Birmingham Symphony Hall.
India’s first and only western orchestra was conducted by British-born Zane Dalal and features the internationally-renowned tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain.
Although British culture has influenced India to a certain extent, it has never had a professional western orcherstra until the SOI was founded in 2006 by Khushroo Suntook and violinist Marat Bisengaliev in Mumbai.
The SOI is composed of musicians from 26 nationalities, including a sizeable proportion from Kazaksthan and Eastern European countries. Approximately one-sixth of the SOI are Indian and this looks set to increase as more Indian students progress through its training programmes.
Zakir Hussain is a respected master of the tabla who prides himself on keeping the vast traditions of Indian classical music alive.
He explained to I Am Birmingham how he has followed in the footsteps of his father who taught him one-to-one about Indian classical instruments from an early age and how he is now following suit by teaching young students in Mumbai.
The evening began with an astounding rendition of Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture which articulated Zane Dulal’s energy and the harmonious flow between the brass and woodwind players of the orchestra.
Zakir Hussain was subsequently welcomed to the stage and he performed with the SOI – the unique ‘Peshkar’, a tabla and orchestra concerto specially written by Hussain for the SOI.
It’s easy to see why Hussain is regarded as one of the world’s greatest tabla musicians and his mesmerising performance did not disappoint. Much of the audience were in awe of his complex and intricate tabla playing technique. Peshkar is distinctive and progressive, moreover it pushes the boundaries of eastern/western classical fusion.
The night ended with an impressive performance of Rimsky-Korsakovs’ Scheherazade which is a retelling of the classic story, One Thousand and One Nights. The solo violinist, Adelina Hasani captivated the audience with her glittering solo renditions to weave the passages of the tale.
Overall, the Symphony Orchestra of India’s proficient performance clearly shows that it is an ensemble destined for higher international accolades.
You can find out more information on the Symphony Orchestra of India’s European tour on http://www.soimumbai.com/uktour