Sunday, 4 August 2013

Áine in Gurgaon

Hello all!
Maria and I have now officially been over a month in Gurgaon, and goodness it is going quickly.
I am still recovering from a slightly manic, but nonetheless wonderful, week. With Indian Independence Day in our sights (the 15th of August), One World College of Music is deep into preparations for concerts for the big day. This week therefore has been full of rehearsals, and auditions by bands and solo acts who want to play.
A highlight of the programme is a patriotic song written by two brothers at the school, who I have been helping to mentor in composition. Having posited that a purely Western style of composition may not be entirely appropriate, a local Indian classical composer has been helping the boys compose various sections in a more Indian style, including a new ‘alap’ (free, improvisatory introduction). My class at the local NGO School, Sankalp, are also going to be joining the One World pupils for a patriotic marching song. The class now know their parts, but are yet to come to One World to have a rehearsal with the singers and drummers there. I’m preparing for utter chaos, as classes at OWCM are largely held in English, but my Sankalp pupils only speak Hindi.
The Group Project at OWCM
This weekend, OWCM also hosted a local jazz/fusion group, The Group Project, for a workshop on jazz composition and performance. I was really pleased to see that the workshop was really well attended by pupils of One World College of Music, who all seemed to get a lot out of the experience. Straight after the workshop, we all left for a jazz club in Gurgaon called the Speakeasy (a darkish basement with a stage under a marketplace), where the Group Project then performed. It was fascinating to see an Indian jazz club, but there was more than one tired looking face the next morning! This sort of workshop/school trip combination was a great experience, as seeing performers in action gave pupils something to aspire to, and their fusion attitude towards music showed pupils that Indian classical music could still be integrated into their music. The number of questions that students asked the band, and have continued to ask since (we have now started talking about using modes in jazz composition, how to write/notate music for different instruments from different cultures and so forth) have shown that the experience has really sparked their attention and interest in jazz and fusion music.

With an OWCM student's art work in Saket
Working seven days a week makes it somewhat hard to do many touristy things, but this week I have managed a few trips into Delhi, to my boss’s house, an art gallery district near Saket and to one of the large market places. A trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal is hopefully on the cards after Independence Day with colleagues from school, and this week I plan to use a morning to visit the Qutab Minar and some other monuments in Delhi.

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