Lit for Life

Euphony of sounds

When violins, violas and cellos erupted in joyful harmony, the result was a magical symphony. The musicians sat with their heads tilted and eyes transfixed on the notations, as the conductor waved his baton, creating invisible patterns in the air. The scene is from a symphony, performed recently by a group of youngsters in Kochi.

As the symphony progressed, melting the air at the Kerala History Museum, memories of old musical favourites were rekindled. ‘Nee madhu pakaru’..., an ever-green classic from Moodal Manju, got a philharmonic makeover. Combined with the notes of pianist Stephen Devassy, who decided to join in, the song enthralled. Usually a symphony is always acoustic, it is hardly ever performed in an open-air stage. “We had to use a sound system in order to get the desired effect,” says M S Viswanath, the man behind the symphony. A musician and teacher, Viswanath had always wanted to form an orchestra.

Though organised as part of the annual day celebrations of Thomson Music Education, Pathadipalam, the event marked the beginning of the musical journey of a young orchestra. Viswanath gathered his students around and formed a group, named it Euphony, and began practising. “There are very few opportunities for music students to play in a symphony in Kerala. The exposure it gives the students is unique,” says Viswanath, who has been teaching and playing the violin since 2000.

The group with 34 students began practice in January, spending hours together working on their notes. “The passion and the interest the students had was one of the main driving forces behind the formation of Euphony. Violin is a tough instrument to play. Unless there is passion, it would not sustain,” says Viswanath. The only trouble during practice sessions was getting the students together at a particular time. “The students put in a lot of effort, as they had to juggle school, tuitions and other activities to make it for practice on time,” he adds.

The youngest member of the group is eight years old and the oldest, is a 32-year-old homemaker. While choosing the numbers, Viswanath says, he stuck to simple and popular melodies that the crowd would be able to relate to and enjoy. The repertoire was a careful mix of eastern and western numbers. “Because of the age difference, everyone in the group was not on the same level. So, I went in for basic melodies,” says Viswanath.

The theme song of The Pirates of The Caribbean, ‘My favourite things...’ from The Sound of Music, Beethoven's 9th Symphony Ode to Joy and Viswanath’s own composition Raagamalika, were among the numbers played. Viswanath’s dream is to arrange some of the popular South Indian film songs in symphony style.

As someone who stumbled into the world of music, Viswanath says it is now an important part of his being. “I had never planned on becoming a musician. I picked up the violin as a hobby soon after school, and gradually found that it was indeed my calling.” Opportunities too came his way and there was no looking back. Having got his Masters in Carnatic violin from the RLV College of Music, Tripunithura, Viswanath says he feels drawn to western music. He taught himself the cello and viola and uses them in many of his compositions.

Apart from teaching violin in a couple of institutes in Kochi, Viswanath does shows, with his own band, Rithuragas. “As with most stringed instruments, the violin requires a lot of practice—at least eight hours a day. If you don’t play for, say a month, you would find that you have lost touch.”

One of the few junior symphony orchestras in the city, Euphony has big plans. “It will continue to perform and anyone who wants to learn the violin is welcome to join the group,” says Viswanath. The next on the list of activities for Euphony is to record and release a CD of popular South Indian film songs and of course, continue to perform live.

Factoid

The London Symphony Orchestra was booked to travel on the Titanic's maiden voyage, but they changed boats at the last minute. Founded in 1904, it is the oldest of London’s symphony orchestras.


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Printable version | Sep 12, 2021 12:42:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/lit-for-life/a-junior-symphony-orchestra-led-by-musiscian-ms-viswanth/article19053959.ece

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