26 July, 2021

Brahms In Bengalooru

Western classical music has a fresh generation of students. They aren’t the usual suspects.

Nilotpal Baruah
Brahms In Bengalooru

Nikhil Goyal was showing one of his relations around their new flat. When they stopped by his room, the relative remarked, “So you are the bandmaster in the family.” The label of ‘bandmaster’ may be a rather loose term to appreciate the high art of operatic singing (which Nikhil is pursuing), but it typifies the common Indian reaction to western classical music—as largely an elite, exotic enterprise with heavy imperial association.

A dent was perhaps made in our collective unconscious in the last decade through the ubiquitous polyphonic mobile ringtones, and now the beginnings of a trend wafts up in our cities suggesting bigger things to come. For one, the profiles of those learning western classical music are changing. Traditionally, it has been the Anglo-Indians, Parsis and the Christians who have taken to it, but now the Marwaris, Punjabis, Tamils, Kannadigas and Malayalis among others are coming together to form a most unusual symphony. In a sense, it is about  new India’s...

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