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Conductor to wield baton in Germany

- Music across borders

Last year, it was King Khan and Mamata Banerjee who were swaying their heads in time to his chamber music at one of the most high-profile events on the city’s cultural calendar. This year, Abraham Mazumder’s baton will bring to life Tagore’s timeless tunes in Germany.

The conductor, violinist, veteran music teacher and Moheener Ghoraguli founder has been invited by the prestigious Munich Philharmonic to conduct a Tagore symphony with his orchestra in April. Mazumder, along with 10 members of the Calcutta Music Academy Chamber Orchestra, will give three concerts as a part of the Philharmonic’s annual festival, Der Gasteig Brummt.

Mazumder, the founder and principal of Calcutta Music Academy (CMA), will leave for Germany with 10 senior students on a 15-day tour. “My wife Madhusree (the director of CMA), on a trip to Germany in 2010 for a teachers’ training programme, had met the director and members of the Munich Philharmonic. They were very excited to learn that Tagore tunes could be scored for symphony and were very keen on doing something with us,” he told Metro.

Mazumder was choirmaster for La Martiniere for Boys for 25 years. He started L’Atelier de Musique, a non-profit organisation for European classical music, in 1983 before moving to Baghajatin four years ago, where he set up the CMA to provide intensive lessons on a range of instruments traditionally used for playing Western classical. “I have been conducting and performing for 35 years and this is the first time I will be steering an international orchestra of such repute. It’s an honour to be invited. I’m glad that the West is open to Indian conductors. It will be a great experience for our students. We might speak a different language but our discipline is the same,” Mazumder said.

The conductor had sent Munich Philharmonic 30 of his scores based on Tagore songs, blending in preludes and interludes from pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Handel and others. “They’ve zeroed in on 20 pieces that will be performed at the show, titled Tagore in Symphony. We also sent them a recording of our performance at the Calcutta Film Festival and they were quite impressed.”

The 119-year-old Munich Philharmonic, known for having Zubin Mehta as honorary conductor, will have 35 of their senior artistes and musicians following Mazumder’s baton with “separate parts written and assigned for the brass, woodwind and double bass sections. CMA students will join them on violin and viola”.

Mazumder will also conduct two concerts of Moheener Ghoraguli songs with the Odeon Youth Symphony Orchestra at the festival before moving on to Berlin. “In Berlin, we will do workshops with various music schools and have an informal concert.”

With a song list that includes Tagore’s Aaji godhuli logoney, Chhaya ghonayichhe and Megh bolechhe and Moheen hits like Hay bhalobashi, Shongbigno pakhikul and Amar Priya Café, rehearsals have been on for a month. “I will conduct rehearsals with the entire ensemble once we reach Munich,” Mazumder said.

“I’m trying to bring them (the Munich Philharmonic) to Calcutta this winter so that our city also gets a taste of the music we are creating,” the conductor signed off.