Intercultural Celebration of Rhythm and Strings - 26th of March at La Makaan

Intercultural, Multicultural, Cross-cultural Music

Between internationalism, nationalism, patriotism and bigotry there is a large area which is unexplored and misunderstood. This is the area that is called interculturalism and multiculturalism. It is into this area which the Hyderabad Western Music Forum and its supporters the Goethe Zentrum and Alliance Francaise have stepped into, to explore and to discover, to experiment and to integrate, to blend and harmonise with.

    According to the free WikipediaInterculturalism is “the philosophy of exchanges between cultural groups within a society”. And this leads me to suggest that these intercultural exchanges enable communication, collaboration and the ability to befriend and understand people across various cultures, which can only be a good thing.  
 Multiculturalism to me means being a member of more than one culture simultaneously; and ‘India’ as a country is a miraculous living example of this.  According to the Wikipedia, “Multiculturalism is the ideology that postulates that all culture and civilizations are of equal value and should be treated and promoted equally within the same nation’. See what I mean?!
    The Rhythm and Strings evening was a celebration of Intercultural, multicultural music pluralism. How else can one describe an evening where a string ensemble of Indians, local Hyderabadi’s, play Mozart and Beethoven followed by a German Hindustani Classical Tabla player, accompany raga’s played by Hindustani Classical Sarangi and Sitar players and a Carnatic Violin player. If that is not multi-cultural and intercultural, what is?
    And what can we say about the audience, that they too were multi-cultural and intercultural and that they were true music lovers who enjoyed the evenings fare. The attendance was very good considering it was the evening of a working day. But judging from the audience applause for each of the different parts of the programme, the audience enjoyed everything, and considered themselves blessed to be there under the trees, at la Makaan, the beautiful outdoor location. 
    The ensemble of John Marthand, the doyen of music teachers in the twin-cities began the evenings programme with a selection from Mozart. The ambience and the mood of the evening was perfect for Mozart, and whether it was a digital piano and violin duo or the whole ensemble, except that the digital piano was a bit loud in the first piece, the sound was heard clearly, the balance was perfect, very mellow and smooth. The whole ensemble played with out amplification or the use of a sound system except when the digital piano was used, it was a beautiful start to a beautiful evening! The ensemble deserves to be heard more and more often.
   The next part of the evening was Florian Shiertz, from Germany, who played Tabla and was supported by Mohamed Aslam Khan on Sarangi. Florian made his first announcement in Hindi which he carried off quite well, he than played various rhythms on the Tabla through the device of tala, a recurring time-measure or rhythmic cycle. He also displayed his competence in bol which is a vocalisation of various syllables of the sound of the tabla. Each Hindustani or North Indian tala has a theka, a standard set of bols, Dha, dhin, ga etc. that identify the rhythmic cycle. His display of prowess in bol did more than satisfy the audience.
 The next part of the evening we had expected to hear the great Pandurang Mutalik perform along with Florian Shiertz, but to our surprise and through the largeness of his heart, Pandurang Mutalik, who is really a very great Sitar player, shared the stage not only with Florian but with Mohamed Aslam Khan and a young Carnatic Violinist, Shanker, which made this beyond any doubt, a multicultural, intercultural musical performance.
   One could tell that though it is not a common sight to see three Hindustani Classical musicians, Sitar, Sarangi and Tabla together with a Carnatic musician, the music they produced was enjoyable and complex, and one could see the sparks of genius from the sitar of Pandurang Muatalik, and one saw the flowering of a very good Sarangi player in Aslam Khan since we had heard him last almost a year ago. One could see this spirit of contribution and concord and community in music while they played together. It was an evening when music was shared and harmony was created.                                                                                                                                 
By Pratap Antony


 Florian Schiertz together with Mohammed Aslam Khan (Sarangi)

Florian Schiertz – Mohammed Aslam Khan – Pandurang Mutalik (Sitar) – Shankar (Violin)  Fotos by Joe Koster