Seven years ago, 13 youngsters were plucked from their school in Kodambakkam, for their extraordinary musical talents to be honed. Three years into their training, they performed at the United Nations with AR Rahman, impressing those gathered in the hallowed halls with their classical know-how. Next week, ten out of those thirteen are set to perform in Chennai at The Hindu Lit for Life.
Sunshine Orchestra is the manifestation of musical maestro AR Rahman’s vision of putting an Indian orchestra on the world map. The project, under the AR Rahman foundation, involved training these children — now aged between 16 and 20 — in Indian and Western classical music and numerous genres in between.
Some of them have mastered the cello, others, the violin, some the viola and a few, the double base, each having picked an instrument of their own interest and their talent was fine-tuned over the course of the programme. While the string section, comprising these 10 protégés, have been making their mark for quite a while, the rest of the orchestra is still at formation stage. A bass section was added to it two years ago.
None of the 10 string musicians have any background in music. Indeed, the musical exposure for most of them, before being selected for the programme, was restricted to television and radio. Yet, now they have regaled audiences at symphonies across the country, as well as in New York and Malaysia, having accompanied Rahman in a number of his concerts.
Today, while their taste in music and musicians range from Itzhak Pearlman and Mozart to Benny Dayal, their know-how is spread across the board, over multiple genres. An immense part of the credit goes to their trainer and mentor Srinivasa Murthy, who has been teaching them from the very beginning. A first-generation musician himself, Murthy hails from an agrarian family and has been working and performing with Rahman’s team for years. His coaching regime is straightforward enough: think any regular school, but with music as the main discipline. The artistes train everyday from 9 am to 5 pm, and during concerts, into long days and , informs Murthy. The trainer and musician will be conducting for the orchestra as well. The Sunshine Orchestra members performing at Lit For Life are Nandhini Anbazhagan, Vignesh U, Nandini and A Balaji on the violin; Deepa S, Balaji M and Vaijayanthi R on the cello; Ebenezer Gnanraj on the viola and Anish Franklin on the double base.
The Sunshine Orchestra will be performing at Lady Andal School, Chetpet on January 14 at 9 am. For details, log on to www.thehindulfl.com.