Thursday 14 August 2014

Tour of India - Part One

Britten Sinfonia's orchestra manager, Annabel is currently on tour in India with the ensemble. In the first of a series of posts she talks about the first couple of days of the trip;

Arriving at our hotel in the early hours of Tuesday morning I breathe a sigh of relief – both flight and entry into India are uneventful, other than a short dash around Delhi airport to find somewhat elusive immigration forms.  Nice to know that instruments and visas were both accepted by airline and immigration respectively.  After a sweltering wait at the airport and hectic car-journey the hotel is peaceful, and we are warmly welcomed.

Eight hours later and I’m being briefed about a press conference that is to happen later the same day.  From Britten Sinfonia, Jaqueline Shave (Leader) and David Butcher (Chief Executive) are to take part, along with soloist Amjad Ali Khan and personnel from our promoters. All goes well, and both interesting and unusual questions are posed. We are told later that an unusually large-contingent of press attended – there were certainly many photographers!

Soon after, I am hunting for straight-backed chairs (for our string players) and music stands. A breakdown in communication means that music stands don’t arrive until half way through our rehearsal, so we fashion make-shift stands from chairs, folders and i-pads.  This first rehearsal is intense, with time being taken to discover the best way of rehearsing Sarod Concerto Samaaga, which features the Britten Sinfonia line-up of string quartet, flute and bassoon, together with a tabla player and three sarod players including composer and soloist Amjad Ali Khan. Helpfully, arranger David Murphy is on hand to assist.  The work was originally conceived and premiered with Scottish Chamber Orchestra, but David has made this new chamber arrangement for us and we’re delighted to be giving the world premiere in Delhi.

A film of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra performing Samaaga

Within the programme we are also to perform a solo-set of Western works – including Purcell, Mozart, Philippe Hersant, and Machair to Myrrh, a composition from our very own Jaqueline Shave, for string trio and tabla which takes the listener on a journey from Machair (on the Isle of Harris), to Morocco!  We soon discover that the tabla tuned to A, which is required for the work, is going to be impossible to source in Southern India, as tablas tend to be more common in the North of the country.  Thankfully, Anubrata Chatterjee, our tabla player, makes a few adaptions and he and Jackie are soon finding their way around the piece, with Anubrata learning the work by ear.

A lengthy rehearsal calls for a well-deserved evening of relaxation, and the orchestra are therefore delighted to be invited to dinner with Khan Saheb and his family.  A fabulous evening was had by all, with wonderful food and warm company.

Orchestra Manager

For full details of Britten Sinfonia's tour to India click here

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