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May 2018 was an exciting month for Bangalore – the première of the Bangalore City Chamber Orchestra (BCCO), a new star on the Indian horizon – an ensemble of young serious musicians, spearheaded by Bangalorean, Arun Rozario – founder-director! I admire Arun – his big dream finally found the light of day only through courage, foresight, determination, sheer hard work and more – qualities that I, as a Western classical musician completely identify with and which, in my experience, are pivotal both, in our efforts as musicians to constantly evolve as well as to promote this sophisticated genre of music especially in our country.

Nestled in the serene and pristine landscape of the SAIACS CEO Centre, Bangalore, nineteen enthusiastic musicians from six different corners of India as well as from Sri Lanka and Belgium resided and rehearsed for five days. It was time valuably spent together to bond as a group, essential to play as one body as well as to interact and exchange musical ideas and share insights on music-related developments and concerns that each of us experienced in our hometowns.

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Rehearsals were intense requiring commitment, discipline and long hours of hard work. We were in the expert hands of Belgian conductor, Joris Decolvenaer who, with his professional experience and meticulous eye for detail, carefully moulded our sound to create magical moments in not one but three well-received and encouraging concerts in two cities – Bangalore & Goa. Joris’ congenial disposition facilitated an open and easy work environment but not without quietly demanding and bringing out the best from the ensemble.

Every work in our concert repertoire was enjoyable: a well-thought-out, interesting and varied selection ranging from Vivaldi’s vibrant ‘Summer’ to Barber’s profound ‘Adagio for Strings’ that enthralled not only classical music lovers but also those perhaps witnessing such an event for the first time. Our very own soloists – Sanya Cotta (violin; who was also Concertmaster), Tanisha Herbert (mezzo-soprano) and Arun Rozario (violin) did us proud and Joris’ string arrangement of a popular Bollywood tune concluded the evenings on a lighter note.

The establishment of organisations such as the BCCO endorses a milestone for Western classical music in India – one that reflects progressive change in the mindset of society, i.e. Western classical music is no longer being considered just a hobby or extra-curricular activity but a serious and respectable profession that can be on par with any other that is capable of commanding rewarding returns for a highly trained and refined set of skills honed to perfection over years of practice and experience – and most importantly, with no compromise!

The BCCO has gathered significant momentum and many more concert seasons are bound to follow, directed at creating a positive professional platform where like-minded, highly motivated and accomplished players can flock and push limits to give excellent and inspiring concerts – what greater way of gratifying audiences and performers alike!

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