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Global Rhythms set to rock Chennai

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PERFORMERS IN TOWN: `Global Rhythms' band members will be playing during `Saarang', IIT Madras' cultural fest, that begins on Thursday. Photo: S.S. Kumar
PERFORMERS IN TOWN: `Global Rhythms' band members will be playing during `Saarang', IIT Madras' cultural fest, that begins on Thursday. Photo: S.S. Kumar

Susan Muthalaly

International music ensemble to perform at `Saarang' on January 25

CHENNAI: When they come with the approval of music genius A.R. Rahman, you know you are in for quite a show.

Global Rhythms World Music Ensemble (GR), a U.S.-based ensemble of 150 members and counting, is in town for IIT Madras' annual cultural event `Saarang' 2007, where they will be performing on January 25.

The day before the concert, on Wednesday, the 13 GR members met at The Hindu before a lunch appointment with A.R.R. at The Shanghai Club.

Artists handpicked

Srinivas Krishnan, co-founder and director of the ensemble, said the artists for the IIT concert were handpicked to put up a show appropriate to the Indian audience.

The idea was to expose them to new instruments, music and musical cultures.

The line-up includes an assortment of percussion instruments.

Jeff Queen from GR is credited by his fellow members with developing Marching Band percussions into a solo art form.

Jeff explained that the Marching Bands, a big phenomenon in the U.S. with almost every student community having their own, had a military origin. He said he had incorporated the percussive element snare drums, bass drums etc into their repertoire.

The Chennai audience will also get an introduction to the oboe, a woodwind musical instrument.

And then there's A.R.R. Sometimes, when new members join, they may not have even heard of the Indian music genius, said Krishnan. But Rahman epitomised everything their music was about, he said.

"We don't want to get pigeon-holed in genre. We do Latin jazz fusion, African, Chinese and Eastern European music, and Rahman's music is perfect for adding the cultural element," he said.

GR has done several stage shows with Rahman, including the 2003 Unity of Light concert.

Choreography included

The ensemble has included choreography into their act. This again has an A.R.R. connection because they first experimented with the idea while performing his `Dol Dol' number from `Yuva'.

The Global Rhythms World Music Ensemble will perform at the IIT Madras' open air theatre at 7 p.m. Entry is free.

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