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Sunday, March 12, 2006

An Ode to the 'Performing Spirit'

Music is the fuel that powers my soul...From the mellifluous brilliance of Hindustani and Carnatic music to the lilting rhythm and bass of Hip-hop, from the playful delight of Western classical to the relentless exuberance of Rock, Music unfailingly fits your mood and elevates you to a higher plane.

In fact, the experience of a 'live' performance is something else altogether, an exalted state of enjoyment that mere words can never capture or begin to describe. Each form of concert or exposition offers a nuance very distinct from the other. A Carnatic music kutcheri with its typical exploratory style can open your eyes to the wondrous complexity of this art form! A Bharatnatyam performance can coax you to empathize with the performer’s emotions and draw you into their Elysium! Many a time, I have been transplanted into such empyrean realms, romancing the gopikas alongside a frivolous Lord Krishna, felt the pangs of Yashoda as she comes to terms with the challenges of maternity, borne the rage of Lord Shiva as he arbitrates over the existence of the mortal world!!

There are few experiences that can match the sheer resplendence of a musical symphony! The venerable Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra performed in Urbana-Champaign this Friday. Amongst the many amazing things that I can brag about in Chambana (Urbana-Champaign) is the magnificent art complex "Krannert center". Its legacy and grandeur a testimony to the tireless crusaders of art who dared to dream, its program schedules a delectable who-is-who of music, dance and theater!

The celebrated orchestra performed Schubert and Mozart during its program. Their initial offering, "the Overture to Rosamunde" composed by Franz Schubert during 1823 was an enchanting concoction intermeshing wind instruments like the Oboe, flute, bassoon, trumpet and the clarinet in delightful measure with the staple string instruments i.e. the violin, viola and the cello. A mellifluous orgy of an Allegro performed with clockwork precision by the virtuosos who adorned the stage!

The 'piece de resistance' of the performance was the "Sinfonia Concertante" in E-flat Major composed by the peerless Maestro Mozart during the summer of 1779. This composition places particular emphasis on the violin (generally not the preferred string instrument of the Master, Viola and Cello occupy that exalted pedestal). For a tyro that I am, brandishing rudimentary skills with the violin, this composition is sheer ecstasy. An Ambrosia served by the choicest connoisseurs to satiate my senses, tingle my spine and levitate me into a joyous delirium!! The first movement, 'Allegro maestoso', a marvelously subtle and elegant dialogue. The second movement, 'Andante', a succession of glorious question-and-answer phrases in which the soloists strive to surpass each other in beauty and profundity of expression. The two soloists wielding their magic with their violin and viola left me spellbound! Imagine a conversation with violins…

The whole experience instilled in me a new-found respect for the performing spirit! There is a well-deserved aura of nobility associated to the artistic clan! Any art form is a means of expression that is learnt and mastered after many an hour of ‘sadhana’! To invest the time and effort into it and then muster the courage to perform though takes more than just practice. It takes gumption and passion, a love for the art that transcends avarice and a thirst for fame. A performance is the culmination of talent and confidence that stems from a deep cognition of the art. It takes passion and zest to meet the adulation or the indifference that the world will throw at you!

I pay obeisance to thee, oh adventurous spirit coz’ tis the joy of exposition that you seek! I doff my hat for your passion that is willing to endure the hurdles! The hurdles of indifference, of critique and vitriol, of the dearth of equipage, of more pressing commitments that life might demand! I salute thee for transporting me to worlds I did not know could exist but for your fertile enterprise...


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