Young Indian Musicians Get Chance of a Lifetime Collaborating with European and Japanese Professionals
On the 2nd of November 2016, Keys of Change announced that the Kolkata Youth Orchestra, an orchestra made up of young Kolkatan musicians from a variety of backgrounds, including many from very deprived backgrounds, will be presenting an “International Music Evening” performing with professional musicians from Europe and Japan in a concert at the Grand Ballroom of the Oberoi Grand. More than 75 musicians will take to the stage at Kolkata’s most historical hotel, making this the largest western classical music orchestra to have ever performed in the City of Light. The concert will be the culmination of several months of rehearsals with their own conductor and founder of the orchestra, Sanjib Mondal, followed by two weeks of intense coaching and workshops with seven musicians from the UK, Greece, Romania and Japan who will come especially to Kolkata to work with the young people. The repertoire for this invitation-only concert will include music by Beethoven and Vivaldi, as well as beloved music by Tagore, while soloists for the evening will include internationally acclaimed concert pianist, Panos Karan and American soprano Meeryuhng Hall. Keys of Change announced also that the programme will be presented again on 5th November in a concert open to the general public, at the stage of the Vidya Mandir, an opportunity the UK charity is hoping to use to bring in as many young people as possible from Kolkata’s surrounding communities.
This once in a lifetime opportunity is the brainchild of Panos Karan, the British concert pianist and founder of Keys of Change. Launching the project today, Karan explained “I have been working the last three years, actively supporting local musicians, and connecting communities around the city. I firmly believe that the KYO has one of the strongest musical voices in the Indian subcontinent and its young musicians deserve international recognition. We would like to use music as an important agent for bridging people of different backgrounds and to demonstrate how all the preparation that goes into a concert can bring varied communities together for the common purpose of listening to music – an act so simple and so powerful, yet so under- appreciated.”
Karan’s vision is broad. As well as improving the skills and experience of the young Kolkatan musicians through the public concert, Keys of Change is organising a series of performances in schools in slum communities, hospitals and orphanages. “We are aiming to involve as many people from as many walks of life as we can, so everyone can enjoy the transformative power of music. There is a very powerful message to be shared, when a young Indian musician shares the stage with a professional from abroad, and plays music together with a beloved soprano like Meeryung Hall, who I understand has already stolen the hearts of Kolkatans with her spectacular singing.”
Keys of Change is no stranger to Kolkata. Karan and Greek flautist Zach Tarpagos have already been on several visits since 2013, working with young musicians and performing in orphanages, homes for the elderly and music schools. Keys of Change have supported the Kolkata Youth Orchestra since 2014, a group of young musician who come from extremely humble backgrounds, providing musical coaching by European professionals and performance opportunities for the Indian musicians. In November 2014 Keys of Change put together a joint performance with the KYO, attracting an audience of more than 700 people. Greatly impressed by local interest in Western classical music, they are hugely looking forward to their return this November and know it will be a visit they and the musicians, and the city of Kolkata, will never forget.
On previous visits to Kolkata, Panos Karan and fellow trustee Zach Tarpagos reached out to an audience of more than 2,000 people, most of them children and young people living in difficult conditions. During these trips KoC became acquainted with young Kolkatan musicians, many of them from very deprived backgrounds, including orphans, who were actively learning western classical music. Inspired by the dedication and enthusiasm of these musicians, KoC developed the idea of stretching the students further by arranging for them to perform at a prestigious venue in their city. They will be joined this time by a group of young volunteer musicians from Europe and Japan.
About The Kolkata Youth Orchestra: The Kolkata Youth Orchestra, an Indian charity supported by the Calcutta Foundation, was formed under the initiative of Sanjib Mondal, with young talents who learn music through the years but do not get the right opportunity and platform to perform in front of an appreciative audience. One of the objectives of KYO is to preserve, promote and improvise the rich tradition of western classical music through energetic and enriching performances. The orchestra consists of boys and girls who are students of Roger Music School and Oxford Mission, along with a few guest musicians. Apart from providing a platform for the young musicians, the orchestral experience in KYO helps to develop musicians who choose music as a career.