Patricia Rozario tells Chennai about art song sessions

Chennai’s KM Music Conservatory introduced the city to the tradition of art song, with the help of internationally acclaimed soprano Patricia Rozario

January 13, 2020 05:38 pm | Updated January 14, 2020 01:25 pm IST

internationally acclaimed soprano Patricia Rozario and pianist Mark Troop

internationally acclaimed soprano Patricia Rozario and pianist Mark Troop

It wasn’t just another Saturday afternoon for people passing by KM Music Conservatory, as lyrics by Ralph Vaughan Williams resonated in the air. On campus, a classical piece being played on an acoustic piano and resonating all around is common. Today, however, the sound was that of internationally acclaimed soprano Patricia Rozario and pianist Mark Troop, reciting an art song. It was for the inauguration of the Art Song Festival — a concert by KM Music Conservatory to raise awareness of Western classical art song in India.

Art song is an important tradition in Western classical music, and can be loosely described as music set to an independent text or poem in a concert setting. It is usually composed for a duo — a singer and pianist. Patricia is a gold medallist from London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, who teaches at the Royal College of Music and Trinity Laban in London. Mark Troop is a pianist, broadcaster and writer, and founder of the Chamber Music Company (CMC).

Many entered the dimly-lit auditorium, and instantly got lost in euphoria, as Mark played a legato run and reached a crescendo, while Patricia recited ‘Oh quand je Dors’ (Oh when I sleep) by Franz Liszt. The couple nailed every note with ease.

The recitals were followed by a master class — a common practice in the West, where students perform a piece and a master looks for technical errors in the presence of an audience. The students then play the piece again until they attain perfection. Three advanced-level students, KM alumni Bhavani Gayathri Devi, Divya Iyer and Jaganjot Randhawa performed pieces by Alban Berg, Franz Schubert and Paolo Tosti.

The afternoon ended with recitals by Nina Kanter, director of the festival and faculty member at the conservatory. Accompanied by pianist Adam Greig, the academic coordinator, she recited ‘Silent Noon’ by Ralph Vaughan Williams. It is a poetic description of an hour the poet spent with his lady love, in silence.

In Chennai for a year, Nina feels that the Western classical scene is in a not-so-good state in the city. “Classical music deals with universal stories that anyone can relate to. We have to provide opportunities for students to get exposed to the genre,” says Nina, who feels that the genre seems irrelevant to today’s generation in India because of a lack of exposure alone.

In today’s scenario, many children aspire to become songwriters and Nina says that even songwriting in Rock and Pop will be original only when they know foundations of classical music. “It’s worth the work,” says Nina, smiling.

This event was a precursor to the mega Art Song Festival that KM Music Conservatory will be hosting in April.

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