Blending sensibilities

Blending sensibilities

Musician Michael Makhal relives his enriching experience of leading the first Indian string orchestra to have performed in Europe, writes Srivathsan Nadadhur

Pianist, composer, musical conductor Michael Makhal, born to a family that breathed and celebrated music all day, had a dream during his teenage years in Kolkata — to provide a platform for Western Classical musicians in India to perform abroad and facilitate a unique musical exchange between countries. It took a couple of decades to fulfil his long-cherished dream after several twists and turns.

His brainchild, the Indo-European Youth Orchestra was the first string orchestra from the country to have performed in Europe at the Danube Palace, Budapest, Hungary
recently. Bringing together 15 young and established musicians from the country, US and UK, the 300-seater was a sell-out concert that received a standing ovation for blending sensibilities unique to the Western Classical form and Indian music.

Their playlist was a unique combination of Indian and European Orchestra, comprising the legendary works of Mozart, Brahms, Gustav Holst and Rabindranath Tagore.

Having been exposed to the music form in his early years, Michael cherished the opportunity to interact, perform with international
students, established musicians who came to India as part of exchange programmes. “I always felt Indian musicians don’t get the global exposure that they deserve. Western Classical music was fast-becoming more about classes, exams and certificates. The plethora of learning experiences one gets through an international performance is immense. To get this done, I had to build a career of my own, find my base in an alien city (Hyderabad). Having been part of several international music festivals, a rare musical opera in Hyderabad, I knew what it took to perform abroad. I wanted to do something to make the country proud,” the musician says.His versatility earned him a reputation among the creme de la creme of the Western Classical music fraternity in the world, of which, a Hungarian friend, opened Michael Makhal to the possibility of an international orchestra performance with young and established musicians from India.
“Students and musicians always need the motivation to push their limits. That’s how they fall in love with music and be passionate about it. And the Budapest concert happened almost without any external help or the Government,” he adds with a gleam of pride. The Danube Palace is a dream venue for most global musicians, he says. The extraordinary acoustics that allows music to permeate in its fullest nuance was a delightful experience for him and his musical counterparts.