The years 1900 through 1912 could be thought of as the British composer Gustav Holst’s (1874-1934) “Sanskrit” period. Inspired by his Theosophist stepmother, Holst developed an interest in the religious literature and poetry of India in his mid-twenties, going so far as to learn the rudiments of the Sanskrit language at University College, London, so that he could make his own translations when he found those that were available unsuitable for his musical settings. His first effort in this vein was the opera Sita (1900-1906); later came works like the opera Sàvitri (1908), the choral work The Cloud Messenger (1909-1910), and the Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda, written over the years 1908 through 1912.
The Rig Veda is a set of over 1000 hymns – singing the praises of the sacred plant soma and gods like Varuna, Agni, and Indra – brought by Indo-European speaking peoples into India somewhere around 1500-1000 B.C. Holst set
14 of these hymns to music in his four groups of Choral Hymns, which were popular during his lifetime, but have seldom
been performed since. In this performance, the three last group of hymns will be performed, all with different characters, from quiet and desolate to stirring and lively, building an alliance between East and West.
The Bangalore Men – an all-male voices ensemble launched in January of 2016 consists of 15 singers, all with many years of previous experience singing in choirs. The group focuses on western classical music, from eras ranging from medieval music to contemporary, and is conducted by Jonas Olsson, voice faculty at Bangalore School of Music. During 2016, the group’s tribute to the romantic music of Franz Schubert, SimplySchubert, has been performed, together with pianist Natallia Kapylova, to rave reviews in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mysore and Goa. In April 2017, the group participated in the India-premiere of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony together with the Indian National Youth Orchestra, and the Vienna University Orchestra and Choir. The group is coached by Maria Forsström (Sweden).
Kottayam-based pianist Vimal Kurian has done his piano exams with the Trinity College of Music (London). He leads the choir at the CMS College Kottayam, and is a talented accompanist as well as choir director. His passion is musical collaboration, and this is his first project as a collaborative pianist for The Bangalore Men. He continues to be coached in piano and performance by Ms Natallia Kapylova (Bangalore).
This concert will be The Bangalore Men’s tribute to our Indian heritage, set to music in a western classical tradition. Performances in 2017 August-November in Bangalore, Cochin, Trivandrum and New Delhi.