Since its inception in 2018, the Bangalore-based South Asian Symphony Foundation (SASF) has worked tirelessly to promote cultural synergy among South Asian youth, through the medium of music. In a region fraught with historical and political tension, music serves as a pathway between borders. When the South Asian Symphony Orchestra (SASO) convenes, the members speak and listen to each other through the language of music. They break bread together, rehearse together, perform together, and, ultimately, form ever-lasting bonds of friendship. In doing so, they become ambassadors of cultural exchange and peace. The mission of The South Asian Symphony Foundation (SASF) is to connect India more closely with South Asia – a shared civilizational and geographical space. The South Asian Symphony Orchestra (SASO) -which is the creation of SASF - aim is to illuminate a path for peace-building in the region. Transcending race, religion, languages and borders, bound by a single voice, orchestras are vehicles of peace. They are microcosms of the world, as musicians and instruments join together in harmony, walls crumble and differences recede. Cooperation, coordination and self-discipline are their hallmarks. Friendships are born and taken back home. SASO has held two concerts so far, both in 2019 - prior to the pandemic - in Mumbai and Bangalore. Nirupama Rao who , together with her husband Sudhakar founded SASF says, ‘War and peace impact us all, equally, who live in this region. The South Asian Symphony Orchestra is designed to promote peace-building in the region: an Indian creation, with a heart that is South Asian. Orchestras cultivate mutual empathy, and the necessity for us to learn the art of listening to each other. Listening, as has been said elsewhere, is itself an act of love. And, music is our basic human right. The effort is to demonstrate that we, as citizens, can build channels of people-to-people communication and practise cultural diplomacy’. The creation of musical repertoire for orchestra performance based on the folk, classical and popular music of the region is also an important focus of these efforts. Indian musicians and musicians from other South Asian countries are thus able to craft a shared musical identity that brings their region to the world. This creates an image of the subcontinent of South Asia that is rich, composite, and yet plural, and helps the rest of the world see the region in a new light. The SASF journal ‘Accord’ can be accessed at sasf.substack.com.
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