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A Classical Awakening

A Classical Awakening
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The Indo-German confluence series breathes new life into Western Classical music in Goa.

The simple idea of starting a violin competition by the Guitar Guild 10 years ago has led to the revival of Western Classical music. Now known as the Indo-German Confluence III, it has grown into a festival, a competition and also offers upcoming violinists mentoring under renowned international violinists.

Schubert Cotta, who wanted to boost western classical music in Goa, sought the support of Cecilia Menezes, the honorary consul general of Germany in India who readily agreed. Thus music bridged the geographical divide between India and Germany, bringing a confluence of sounds.

“Since we had two or three eminent jury members coming in we thought why not have a festival around a competition,” Cotta says.

Every year students have the opportunity to avail of coaching classes from the experienced hands of Prof Ulf Klausenitzer, who teaches violin at the University of Music Nuremberg and Shubert’s daughter Sanya, a trained violinist herself. The recently concluded master classes held at Kala Academy reached out to 22 students from Mumbai, Pune over 85 hours.

Initially the training would go on for 10 days, but it was increased to four weeks currently. It “makes sense as the education development of the students will be more intensive when it is four weeks,” Klausenitzer says.
He is “honored by his India experience” because Goa has a history of western classical music of more than 500 years. “It is a great responsibility for me to begin it again. Both Indian and western classical music come together here.”

Klausenitzer finds that his work in Goa “is more important than other parts of the world”. He has given master classes in China, Africa and Japan. “Our aim should be that the world of music can meet at a high standard here and I want to support this development. I have played with conductors all over the world. I can advise the musicians on what is special about western music in other parts of the world,” he explains.

Pointing to some of the hindrances in the Goan western classical music scene, he finds a “stringent learning process” here. “There’s a gap between the international level and Goan. If you compare Korea and Japan, they have a fantastic standard, while here we are a little back. So we need to find that special music characterized by India. Our aim is to have a special profile of Goan western music. I teach Bach and so on but we use a special at the festival—I learn from them. We learn together.

“Goan musicians play cautious, not loud. They are sensitive not with the air that says, ‘Oh I come and play,’ but more humble with ‘Oh you have come from Germany’ kind of approach. So I tell them ‘Everyone is unique and you have to be proud musicians. We have a lot to do here.”

He goes on, “It’s good to be cautious and sensitive, but I show them how to develop a self-consciousness. We learn at the same level. We need to see eye to eye.”

The concerts saw renowned German and Belgium artistes namely Hartmut Krause, Helmut Nicolai, Marleen Dupont and Joris Decolvenaer. They were joined by Sanya Myla Cotta, Oliver Mascarenhas, other Goan musicians and performances with the Stuti Choir, Goa.

The fourth David Menezes National Violin Competition held at the Menezes Braganza Hall saw a massive turn out. What’s interesting to note is that they took the concert series to various churches in Goa and a special concert was held at the Basilica. Cotta mentions that a Belgium composer was commissioned to work on a piece for the concert series based on the popular Goan folk music like dekhni.

Prof Klausenitzer and Cotta are determined to see that western classical music is revived and taken to the next level in the years to come.


This article was first published in Timeline GOA Magazine: Issue 1 Vol. 1 (Page 41)

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