Framed pictures of Luciano Pavarotti, Zubin Mehta, Itzhak Perlman and many more line the walls of his living room but violinist, music composer and conductor Michael Makhal says that his greatest influence was his father Ananta Makhal, a well known violinist and conductor . Michael started playing the violin at the age of 11 and went on to study western classical music from Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM). Opportunity came knocking when he got a chance to work with producer Suresh Babu and music composer R.P Patnaik. Ever since he has found a home in Hyderabad and recently started the Hyderabad Western Classical Music Orchestra.
“When I was in Kolkata, I had heard about the The Nizam's Orchestra in the city which was disbanded in 1948. But it's unfortunate that not many people in the city are aware of its popularity. It has been my dream to revive the symphony culture in the city once again,” says Michael. He has been performing for the symphony concerts like the Delhi Symphony Orchestra and the Neemrana Music Foundation in India and abroad.
Having worked in several Telugu movies and composing music for films like My Heart is Beating Adola , this musician likes to juggle between composing for films and staying true to his western classical roots. “While I learnt more about Indian classical music through my works in the films, playing symphony is an enriching experience. Playing Bach, Beethoven or Mozart is a very royal feeling,” he says.
With professional musicians from Hyderabad, Kolkata and Chennai part of the orchestra, he intends to make symphony orchestra more mainstream and accessible. Other than ticketed concerts, he feels than symphony orchestra played at private events will help in promoting the appreciation of western music. “Its wrong to assume that there is no audience for western classical music,” says Michael. “People don't know who to approach. Moreover, musicians don't make a lot of money with symphony orchestra. We have to create steady form of employment for these musicians,” he adds. According to Michael, starting with deep classical music like the compositions of Bach and Tchaikovsky , moving on to light classical and waltz like the Blue Danube and finally tuning in to the old classics like songs by the Beatles makes for a perfect ensemble for a symphony orchestra which can be grammatically correct at the same create an ambience at private events.
Apart from giving background scores in movies and composing music, he also teaches music to a handful of students. “I have students of all age groups and I want to introduce them on stage through this orchestra,” he says.
“We have to be flexible and you can't revive a culture unless you reach out to everyone,” says Michael and that's what he intends to do with the symphony orchestra.