The Kolkata Classics Club keeps going from strength to strength. In spite of the sweltering heat, the shows just go on. The third set of recitals, this time featuring the American cellist, Brian Thornton, was first presented to children who may have never had the chance to witness a cello being played. In a concert at Kalamandir on Wednesday afternoon, Thornton, accompanied by Jennifer Heemstra, performed for a hall full of school children. There was an exciting interactive exchange as well. The programme included the music of Brahms, Massenet, Popper and Puccini. Two more recitals followed to packed halls on April 30 and a finale at the Oberoi Grand on May 1.
The driving force of Heemstra's personality is equalled only by her skills with the piano, as has been proved in the past during concerts with the soprano, Susan Williams, and the pianist, Douglas Jurs. This time her piano accompaniment of the brilliant sonata for cello and pianoby Brahms was wonderfully complemented by Thornton's passionate, moving interpretation of this work. Thornton plays a 200-year-old cello which Brahms once owned and played. The instrument has a beautiful tone and was played by an inspired and brilliant artist.
The main work on the programme was the Cello Sonata No. 2 in F major by Brahms; a compositional triumph for both instruments, well executed by Thornton and Heemstra, perfectly balanced in its moods of drama, pathos and romantic lyricism. The musicians also gave stunning performances of "Meditation" from Thaïs by Massenet, "Après un rêve" by Gabriel Fauré, "Summertime" by George Gershwin and a caprice by Carlo Alfredo Piatti.
One must applaud the consistent support of the sponsors, without whom none of these concerts by the Kolkata Classics Club would have been possible. Thanks to Swar Sangam, a permanent venue, Kalamandir, has been assured for future presentations. The Oberoi Grand has extended its hospitality to the visiting musicians with the promise of a grand finale concert at the end of each series. The performers' exotic costumes are provided by the designer, Radhika Singhi, and the Boston grand piano by Braganza and Co.
With the continued support of individual contributors and all others, we may look forward to a wealth of excellent music throughout the year. It is a pleasing thought that good music can be experienced not only by regular concert goers, but also by children cutting across all boundaries.
Following the terrible earthquake in Nepal, the Calcutta School of Music presented an impromptu fundraiser concert, Healing with Harmony, by the students and teachers of both the Indian and Western music departments on May 5 at the Sandre Hall. It was surprising and encouraging to discover what teachers, students and staff are capable of producing with no incentive other than the desire to serve a community in trouble. No painstaking preparation for examinations, school concerts or competitions can bring out the talent that was on display.
It is not that the performances were professionally perfect, but there was the joyful spirit of true music-making that kept the audience entertained for more than two hours. This is the essence of all music making. In the first half, the Indian and 'light' music programme was well distributed and choreographed, consisting of songs, dances and instrumental offerings. These included Tanmoyee Chakraborty's expressive Nritya Vandana, the pop music singers who encouraged audience participation with Michael Jackson songs, Biplav Singh's guitar solo, Vache Tadevosyan's duduk offering of two Armenian songs and others. These were interesting and very enjoyable.
The second part of the concert featured students from the Western Classical department and was organized by the visiting flautist, Uberto Orlando (picture). It began with the Trio Sonata by Georg Philipp Telemann, with little Swarnalata Adhikari and Tilak Chatterjee on the violin and Pallab Pramanik on the piano - a refreshing combination of well-trained young musicians. We look forward to more performances from them. Other performers were Rajarshi Kantha Ghosh, Priyadharshini Chatterjee and Pallab Pramanik who played solo piano and sensitive accompaniments to Orlando's flute solos. Finally, the Calcutta Chamber Orchestra, with its conductor, Sanjib Mondal, and under the tutelage and encouragement of Orlando, played G.B. Pergolesi's Flute Concerto in G major and the Vivaldi concerto, ' The Sea Tempest'.