News from the SOI

From an introductory music education programme and an all-India Western classical music competition to students of the SOI Music Academy making it to international conservatoires, a lot is happening at the Symphony Orchestra of India.

Since the beginning of the lockdown in March last year, the NCPA, under the leadership of Chairman Mr. Khushroo N. Suntook, has been successful in swiftly moving its various programmes and activities online while also being on a steady path to expanding its digital presence. Concerts by the Symphony Orchestra of India have been recorded for a release on the digital platform, and all lessons of the SOI Music Academy have continued online over video conferencing, for both one-on-one instrument lessons and group lessons such as solfeggio.

Imaginative use of technology continues in new realms while graduates of the academy are going places, literally and figuratively.

First note

From Mozart to Chopin, child prodigies down the centuries have shown that it is never too young to start learning music. The SOI is all set to launch Prelude, an introductory music education programme designed for children aged five to seven years. It aims to build strong foundational knowledge through structured lessons spanning 10 weeks, with sessions conducted thrice a week for 30 minutes each.

The programme is a blend of practical lessons and theory. Children will learn to play the recorder, with two lessons a week on the pipe-shaped musical instrument. The third session will focus on music theory and history, and music appreciation in order to foster a deeper understanding of music among children. Easy to learn and readily available, the recorder does not call for a big financial investment.

“The SOI has regularly worked with children in educational institutions and NGOs. The idea is to continue taking music to a large number of kids. While we aim to conduct the programme in person, given the circumstances, it has been designed for the online medium comprising multiple batches with no more than four students per batch,” informs Xerxes F. Unvala, General Manager – SOI & Western Classical Music, NCPA.

Flying high

Graduates of the SOI Music Academy have regularly made it to music schools abroad for their higher studies. Yohan Pastala-Gupte, who learned to play the trumpet at the academy for seven years and graduated this year, became the first wind player from the academy to have chosen this path. Pastala-Gupte, who applied to the Academy of Music and Performing Arts (AMPA) in Tilburg, Holland, and the Hochschule Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences inGermany, has been selected by both and will continue his further studies in the latter.

“I am excited to embark on this journey and I’m extremely thankful for the support Maestro Bisengaliev and the SOI Music Academy have given me. I hope to make them proud,” says the young trumpeter.

“I am very pleased at this development. Several musicians are looking East, and India is an exciting place to be a musician in the Western classical tradition. Many of our students who are pursuing their studies in international schools are quite keen on coming back and joining us. When that happens, it would all come full circle,” Bisengaliev concludes.

This piece was originally published by the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai, in the June 2021 issue of ON Stage – their monthly arts magazine.