Music for a four-legged cause


The BSPCA’s yearly fundraiser features talented teenaged musicians who perform for the city’s animals

For the past four years, The Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty (BSPCA) to Animals (and the Bai Sakarbai Dinshaw Petit Hospital for Animals) has been hosting yearly fundraisers to create awareness about the plight of our four-legged friends. Last year, Woofs and Hoofs Carnival and Fundraiser at the Mahalaxmi Race Course had a flea market-like atmosphere with plenty of shopping, music, food and several kids activities. This year, the BSPCA takes their al fresco efforts to an air-conditioned setting. Three really young musical acts — all in their teens — take the stage for a good cause in a show titled ‘A Music Extravaganza’. “If we do have a carnival, we will have it earlier next year,” says Sheila Bhogilal, trustee and member of the fundraising and executive committee at the BSPCA, about the comparatively smaller scale this year. As someone who’s been involved with animal welfare efforts for the past 18 years, Bhogilal and the committees she’s part of have individually selected the bands that take the stage. It’s been a deliberate choice to select such young performers; to showcase compassion for animals at an early age. However, she does admit that the concert is more about raising awareness than fundraising. “It’s about adoption, not mistreating animals and just basically being a kind human being,” she says.

Marat Bisengaliev, virtuouso violinist, conductor — pet parent to two cats names Yasser (after Yasser Abdel Rahman) and Grappelli (after Stephane Grappelli) — is the founding music director of the Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI). For the past six years, Bisengaliev has also been teaching at the National Centre for the Performing Arts’ (NCPA) Special Music Training Programme. The 50 students, selected after a strenuous competition, will perform a concert this evening, conducted by Bisengaliev. Expect compositions written by Efrem Podgaits, Strauss, Mozart and Bach, modified for younger musicians. As a pièce de résistance, there will be a special rendition of A.R. Rahman’s ‘Jai Ho’ from Slumdog Millionaire.

Then there’s The A Team that started performing together since December 2017. Founded by Sriram Emani, IndianRaga is a MIT-founded digital arts education start-up that offers workshops where artistes get the training they need. The end result is high-quality video. A few months ago, in November, the company released a video of the band performing a cover of Kygo’s and Selena Gomez’s hit ‘It Ain’t Me’. “We feel great about the cause,” says Aryaman Meswani. “We all respect the venue so much. I’ve seen my idols Shankar Mahadaven and Zakir hussain and L. Subramaniam perform on that stage.”

The A Team comprises 14-year-olds Arav Sidhwani (American School of Bombay) on guitar and Meswani (Dhirubhai Ambani International School) on tabla; and 13-year-olds, Alea Motwane (Cathedral and John Connon School) on vocals and Aaryan Binrajka (Dhirubhai Ambani International School) on keyboards.

Finally, there are the kids from Cathedral and John Connon School who have formed the Cheese Quartet+. “We used to jam together and we initially formed a band four years ago for a fundraiser for the Salaam Bombay Foundation,” says 16-year-old Vikramaditya Dugar (violin, sax and piano) who plays along with 17-year-olds Parina Kothari (piano and vocals), Zahan Parekh (guitar and drums), Armaan Nazir (guitar and bass), Rehan Bhat (piano and guitar), and Yaashree Himatsingka (piano and vocals). The youngest member of the band is 15-year-old singer Shai Divan. As a jazz band, the Cheese Quartet+ will render standards along with their own versions of Adele’s best hits.

A Musical Extravaganza will take place this evening at 7 p.m. at the Tata Theatre, NCPA. for details.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 11:21:37 AM |

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