Unravelling the notes

In transit

Unravelling the notes

Stewart McIlwham

On his very first visit to the country and in between a hectic schedule of  shows and workshops, the highly talented piccolo (little flute) player Stewart McIlwham, who has been a part of London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) for 13 years takes time out to share his views with Metrolife.

 Classical music, whether Indian or Western, is always associated with a certain elitism and with the leanings of a more mature audience. Stewart plays with the Renga Ensemble, an exciting dimension of the LPO which is doing their bit to tackle stereotypes and make classical music more accessible, especially to young people who are often not overly enthusiastic about conventional orchestral music performances.

“Most young people are stymied by the whole ‘classical music’ bit. For newbies, queries and preconceptions might vary from ‘Don't know how many movements a symphony has’, to ‘Am I going to make a fool of myself when I clap unrestrainedly?’ We would like to demystify and bring classical music of all genres into a fresh exciting space by collaborating and working with the best musicians in the field across boundaries and cultures, learning from each other and making a new sound together,” he explains.

 India has been an amazing experience for him. “Between the wildly reckless autorickshaw rides, the overload of sights, sounds and frenetic energy of Mumbai and the relatively restrained buzz of Bangalore, I am still taking it all in,” he smiles, adding “it was not very different from what I expected and I have been specially enjoying the food!”

As far as Indian audiences go, each city has been different in character but very receptive and aware of this new form of collaborative music. “We got a high energy feedback from our audience which encouraged us to cut loose and  push the performance bar even higher. I believe that by bringing elements of jazz, folk and contemporary music from different cultures into our music and collaborating with artists from different genres young people would definitely be drawn in. We are very keen on taking classical music out of the box and making it relevant to gen next. That's the only sure way to keep it  alive.’ he concludes.

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