The Symphonic Wood Ensemble of University of St. Thomas Minnesota includes an Indian piece in its repertoire and plans to travel with it

The walls of Stein Auditorium, Indian Habitat Centre echoed with soulful music as it played host to a woodwind orchestra The Symphonic Wood Ensemble comprising students from University of St. Thomas Minnesota, USA. Led by Matthew J. George, the entourage enthralled the audience with their exemplary skill.

The group played eight pieces in all, most of which were western including classics such as ‘Visuvius’ by Franck Ticheli, ‘Give Us This Day’ by Davis Maslanka , ‘Danzon’ by Tito Marquez among other compositions. The surprise of the evening, although, was an Indian piece composed by acclaimed music director Shameer Tandon.

Shameer, who was present in the audience, expressed his gratitude towards Dr George for giving him the opportunity to compose a piece for the band. “Last year Dr. George came to my office with an offer to compose for his woodwind band which I grabbed with both hands,” he said. He further added that his experience during the composition of the piece was very illuminating particularly his stay in the St. Thomas University and the interaction with the students there.

Shameer said that such endeavours help artistes like him to ‘spread their wings’ and reach a broader audience. “We artistes after a point feel stagnated and opportunities such as these help us move out of that to a new non-Hindi speaking audience,” he emphasised. Shameer is known for his association with many experimental films such as Page 3, Traffic Signal and lately Inkaar as a music director.

Shameer mentioned that his piece encapsulates Indian ragas, Indian folk, some Bollywood and some middle eastern influences. “I have tried to incorporate as much as I could in this 15 minute piece which you all will agree is not sufficient to present the complete picture. That is the reason I have titled the piece ‘Desi Jhalak’ (Glimpse of India). It provides a different instrumentation to Indian music,” he pointed out.

The piece enamoured the audience and was received with a standing ovation. George attributed the success of the piece to Shameer. “This piece belongs to Shameer. It has made him world famous and it is our honour to play it in front of its composer,” he said. He added that the orchestra plans to take this piece to different parts of the world, including U.S., Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Costa Rica, continental Europe, Ireland and the UK, Australia, Japan, China, Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.