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The set up at the Siri Fort auditorium on Friday evening had the colour blue aptly splattered around. As the Indian Naval Symphonic Orchestra — a 66-year-old brass band consisting of approximately 100 members — opened with the customary Fanfare, those present marvelled at the harmonious, foot-tapping beginning. The band's performance, happened almost two weeks after the Beating Retreat, where the same group played alongside a slew of bands from various regiments and batallions and impressed the audience with their martial tunes.
With collages of sailing ships and submarines on the background screen, the opening composition, which was composed in the honour of the evening's chief guest, Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Tejendra Khanna, was followed up with a host of western classical compositions of Charles Godfrey and Franz Von Suppe.
A little concern crept in by the time the third symphony began, as some of the younger audience members became restive. It did help, however, that none of the musical pieces exceeded more than five minutes. After a rathe xylophone solo and a dramatic symphony, called Overture, the fusion pieces were introduced, and they were the highlight of the concert. Along with the regular line-up of trumpets and violins, mridangam, sitar and wood-based instruments chenda and iddaka were also a part of the fusion ensemble. Titled Cosmic Dance, one of the tunes represented the turbulence of Lord Shiva's tandav. They followed this with lighter renditions of old Hindi songs, and a rock 'n' roll medley.
When East meets West, although a clichéd title, was a jugalbandi between the electric guitar and a sitar/mridangam combo. The notes were built up in a histrionic manner, resembling a battle of sorts, and that's when we wanted more.
The concert ended with a vocal performance of the tri-services song, Jai jai jai Bharti, Kadam kadam badhaye ja and Saare jahaan se achcha and a beautiful flute rendition of Vande Materam. Satish Champion, Director of Music, Indian Navy, who also conducted most of the evening's symphonies, said, "We experimented with Carnatic music in today's performance, and I wanted to make sure that the prowess of each and every band member was on full display".
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