Nikhil Sardana: When did you set up the Bombay Chamber Orchestra and what was your inspiration behind this initiative?
Jini Dinshaw: The Bombay Chamber Orchestra (BCO) was founded in 1962. On my return from the UK, I discovered that the Bombay Symphony Orchestra and the Bombay Philharmonia were no longer functioning. I was invited to an evening concert and was impressed by the performance level of the young students. Unfortunately, beyond the limited repertoire mainly based on examination works performed, the young talent did not posses knowledge of chamber music compositions and orchestral repertoire. This was due to the lack of schools of music in the city where students besides their instrumental coaching could receive chamber music and orchestral playing as their studies.
The BCO Society was therefore founded to not only give the students the orchestral playing techniques, but to introduce them to the great symphonies and solo concert repertoire. The BCO is the only Indian Symphony Orchestra of young Indian members which has survived these 53 years.
NS: Tell us about some of the great musicians and historic events organised by the BCO.
JD: Over these 53 years, the orchestral members have had the good fortune of being directed and trained under International conductors from the UK, Germany, Austria, Russia, Israel, Japan and USA. The conductors and soloists have offered their services, forgoing their honorarium in admiration of what has been achieved.
International soloists that have performed with the orchestra are Lord Yehudi Menuhin, Leon Spierer, Kendall Taylor, Nigel Kennedy, Khadem Missagh and many more, most of whom were heard performing for the first time in India.
NS: How many performances do you organise in a year? Tell us about your repertoire.
JD: BCO generally gives 4 concerts in a year. Repertoire consists of symphonic classics, concertos as well as Broadway hits. We also work on operatic and ballet pieces for our visiting companies.
NS: What plans do you have for the BCO in the near future?
JD: The BCO will continue to offer free coaching to young talent. It is unfortunate that the Government of India does not realise that music and culture play an essential role in establishing a sense of value that transcends national barriers and brings the people of the World closer together. Countries of the Far East – China, Japan, Korea and Malaysia, all have their own culture but the Governments of these countries have built schools of music and offered coaching to their young students under guest teachers from Russia and Europe. In the last 15 years, they have developed their own professional symphony orchestra which have reached world-class levels in their performances.
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