The Roger Music School, the foundation of the Kolkata Youth Orchestra, grows from strength to strength under the watchful eye of their intrepid and inspiring teacher and conductor, Sanjib Mondal. This was evident at its concert performance at the Calcutta School of Music on December 8.
A performance by students may not be perfect, but it is always an interesting experience. This concert was no different. Over the years, one recognizes players who have grown in, and with, the orchestra, achieving a level of orchestral competence, if not virtuosity. The young members of the KYO have now acquired an understanding of orchestral discipline. They are almost there, but not quite.
After the usual introductions and speeches, the evening commenced with the Early American Suite — three folk songs arranged by Merle J. Isaac. The junior segment of the orchestral performance consisted of Amazing Grace, Hole in her Stocking and Mississippi Sawyer.
The girls’ orchestra followed, and they played the popular waltz by Juventino Rosas, Over the Waves. There is nothing vastly tidal about the waves of this musical piece, apart from its popularity with a bygone generation, which the girls’ performance did little to revive. The simplified arrangement, designed to accommodate students of different levels of musical progress, was singularly wanting in tempo and intonation. But one looks forward to hearing them as they grow beyond this debut.
There was then a performance of the beautiful “Méditation” from Jules Massenet’s opera, Thaïs. The sensitive piano accompaniment by Roshni Biswas and the haunting violin with the controlled orchestral support was a good introduction. Then came a debut performance of By the River, which is a composition written by Ranjan Biswas, a member of the KYO. The piece was written keeping in mind the capabilities of the orchestra, and it had a nice, lilting waltz rhythm. It enhanced each of the sections, with little rippling runs in the piano part and strong, sustaining cello and bass segments.
The Concerto in A Minor for Two Violins by Antonio Vivaldi (picture) featured soloists Pallab Pramanick and Santoshree Karmakar. The bright and energetic allegro reflected commitment and a good sense of rhythm and coordination between the soloists. In the following larghetto, there emerged a fine quality of dialogue. The bright return to allegro, with an intensely rhythmic orchestral support, brought the evening to a close.
The whole programme was short of an hour — perfect timing for a concert of this kind. For an encore, they played the old ladies' waltz once more, this time with the whole orchestra, a trifle faster and more in sync. Special mention must be made of the cellists and basses, whose rhythm and intonation gave support and an anchorage to the violins and the violas.
This was quite a triumph as a student presentation; Mondal deserves to be applauded for his zeal and perseverance. The supporters of this promising body of student musicians, Freda Davis, the chairperson of the KYO, and the Calcutta School of Music also deserve to be congratulated.