'Everyday, I learn something new in music'

'Resonance 2017'

'Everyday, I learn something new in music'
For Dr Sunil Paulraj, a neonatal intensivist, practising music and medicine is of utmost importance. Sunil, who is the founding president of Toccata Musical Productions UK, is in the city for the musical feast ‘Resonance 2017’. In a chat with Tini Sara Anien, he talks about the world of music and the journey with Toccata.

How did the idea of Toccata Musical Productions come about?
In 2005, I was pursuing my education in the UK and I used to sing during my free time with Judith Sheridan. It was the time when tsunami had struck. Many people were displaced and families had lost their livelihood. We thought we would come down to India and do a concert to raise some funds for them. That started the journey. The two of us came down and we raised some money. Slowly, the movement grew and more and more high-profile musicians joined us. Today, Toccata has representation from places like Zambia, Kenya, Swaziland and even places in the Far East, Europe and the UK.

How different is ‘Resonance 2017’ from the past editions?
There are a lot of new songs and new voices this time. Almost 50 percent of the production is new. The concept is new too — this time, we will see Lourd Vijay dancing for us and Bangalore Children’s Chorus will be performing as well. We are forging new partnerships and bringing new musical interactions with a fusion of different types of voices.

You’re a wildlife enthusiast, a former national athlete, a doctor and a musician...
Music has always been there in the background. I started singing when I was seven but I never pursued it and drifted into sports. It was a choice between cricket and athletics. I always understood cricket as a sport which needed help from outside, but when it comes to athletics, one could run on their own and no one can stop them. That’s what attracted me to athletics. Medicine was a strong passion.

After I gave up athletics, music slowly became an integral part of my being again. I suppose, like any other human being, the desire to be good at what one takes up is what inspires you to go ahead.

You’ve been singing since a young age...
There was a period when it became quite stagnant though. But once I started again, I put my heart and soul into it. Music has come a long way for me, from singing in choirs to singing with big artistes with Toccata. It’s been a great journey. Every day, I learn something new in music.

You’re from Bengaluru. How does it feel to bring Toccata here each time?
When I come back to Bengaluru, it isn’t just about performing in my hometown. It is also about the feeling of working with friends and people I have grown up with like Maya Mascarenhas. Trying to bring out a fantastic production and the planning which goes into it is a great feeling, especially when you’re in the city you love.

What have you observed about the music scene in Bengaluru lately?
People in Bengaluru have become more receptive to different forms of music. Initially it was limited to some big names. People are aware of different genres of music now.  When we produce a concert, we try to keep it in the middle of the road with pop and country music and also foray into other genres like jazz and opera.

What are you passionate about — medicine or music?
There are two things my entire life revolves around — medicine and music. I don’t have time for anything else. I work eight hours in medicine and six hours are dedicated to music. Music has mellowed me.

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