Members of the multinational music group ‘Moxie' enchanted by Chennai's art scene

As the group rehearses A.R. Rahman's ‘Dil se re…', with interesting pitch variants, Nick Wright, who harmonised the piece for them, plucks the strings of his guitar, simultaneously pitching in for the vocals every now and then. The rendition is a clear demonstration of talent, team effort and importantly, passion.

The musicians, many in their early twenties, are from different universities in the United States. Calling themselves ‘Moxie', the members are part of Global Rhythms, a larger world music initiative. They are in the city to perform, learn and share ideas with musicians and students of music.

While some of them are pursuing academic courses in music in the US, others were drawn to the group by their sheer passion for music.

Global Rhythms is the brainchild of Srinivas Krishnan, an alumnus of Miami University. Now in Chennai, he frequently travels to the States, bringing together musicians and students from different parts of the globe to collaborate. “We started as a group of friends in the 1990s. We go to different universities, and work with artists specialising in different genres. It has been a great journey so far,” he says.

Moxie is one group part of the initiative. Hundreds of musicians work together in different groups for Global Rhythms and exchange ideas. Some of the members have even performed with musicians such as A.R.Rahman and Umayalapuram Sivaraman.

Moxie members have performances lined up in Chennai, including one at the Museum Theatre on August 14, with the support of the Rotary Club of Madras Coromandel.

Distinct strength

Each of the members comes with a distinct strength and adds value to the group. Some are trained in opera singing, some in western classical, some in percussion and some specialise in instruments. They perform drawing upon different traditions, including African, Cuban, Brazilian and Indian.

Srinivas is particular that they get a feel of the arts in Chennai.

The young musicians are busy learning Bharatanatyam, Nagaswaram or the Tabla. Rajesh Dhavale, faculty member, K.M. Music Conservatory, who has been teaching some of them to play the Tabla says “They pick up techniques very fast. I can see a beautiful bond between us.”

Vocalist Reina Dickuiey says: “Learning the sollukattus (rhythmic phrases) was simply beautiful. The feeling of being with people who love music so intensely is an enriching experience.”

The young musicians have also been interacting with students of A.R.Rahman's K.M. Music Conservatory and will possibly perform with them soon. They have also been visiting orphanages. “We sang with the children. It was incredibly beautiful!” says Laura Mock. Funds raised through Moxie's shows will go towards supporting some of the orphanages.

Staying together as a group, singing together, learning and sharing has been a lot of fun, too. “You feel so connected,” says Bridget Handkins. Musician Sean O' Neill, who also takes up a lot of coordination work for the team, says: “Yeah, four people in a rickshaw can be a truly bonding experience!”

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