Writing this back in England with planning in full swing for the first few concerts in our new season, our trip to India already feels like a long time ago. The last few days of the tour certainly flew by – following our performance in Hyderabad we travelled to Bangalore. A day of travel and no performance meant that everyone was more refreshed for our final day which was somewhat hectic and, for me, the highlight of the trip.
A couple of days before we flew out to India, we were contacted by the fantastic musical outreach initiative Songbound, who aim to bring music to some of India’s poorest and most marginalised children. They were wondering if, schedule permitting, any of our musicians might consider visiting an Orphanage they work with in Bangalore. After hearing a little more about the charity and their work we were keen to attend, and I’m incredibly pleased that we managed to fit in a visit.
Arriving at the Samarthanam Centre, which is run by a trust who provide a home and education for underprivileged, visually-impaired and disabled children, we were greeted by a crowd of enthusiastic children, whose smiles were both infectious and humbling. Many of the children have been working with one of Songbound’s choir leaders, who visits them weekly to teach songs from both Indian and Western traditions. We started by hearing a couple of the songs they had learnt, before introducing them to the different instruments within the group and the sounds that can be made. After playing a few short pieces in different instrumental combinations, we taught them a new song complete with actions and Britten-Sinfonia accompaniment- we hope that it might get added to their choir’s repertoire!
Our time at the orphanage was all too short, but was thoroughly enjoyed by both children and musician’s alike – it was wonderful to see the happiness that music can bring, irrespective of situation. Please do read about the work that Songbound do, and support them if you can. Visit www.songbound.com
Another taxi-ride of dodging cattle, goats and motorbikes later and we were back at the hotel, and straight into the soundcheck for the evening’s show. The performance itself was fabulous (in a rare programme containing no stage moves, I had the opportunity to sit in and had been waiting until the last performance to do so) and everyone was rather sad to say Goodbye to our colleagues Anubrata, Khan Saheb and his sons at the end of the evening. Nevertheless, we returned to England with a host of fond memories, and a desire to, one day, return.