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Impressions of 'Classic Incantations: The German Film Orchestra Babelsberg performs A.R. Rahman' India Tour 2012 - by Matt Dunkley

It's been an amazing couple of weeks in India with the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg. Travelling around this country, you get a real sense of the indomitable spirit of the people, and of the huge diversity of this sub-continent. The concerts have seen great performances from the orchestra, choir and soloists, and have largely been met with enthusiasm and respect for the ambitions of this wonderful project. It took us all a while to realise that muted applause didn't mean that the audience was unhappy with our concerts, and that this is quite normal in Indian classical performance, though the response in A. R. Rahman's home city of Chennai was simply overwhelming. What a night! These concerts have been an important first step in re-introducing a western classical tradition into the Indian music landscape, and one that I know AR is passionate about.

What has been so special about the tour is watching the growing respect and friendship between the German musicians of the orchestra and our lovely choir from maestro Rahman's KM Music Conservatory. A real cross-cultural exchange that is at the heart of the 'Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities' project. For an amateur student choir, they have risen to the considerable challenge of performing with a professional orchestra and have grown in confidence concert by concert.

Last Friday was another special day, when some small groups from the orchestra visited the KM Music Conservatory to perform for the students. First, we were treated to a short concert by a string group that had only been studying for one year. The concentration on their young faces and the standard they have already attained impressed us all. The highlight of the visit was a truly spellbinding performance by the student Qawwali ensemble. Just magical.

Our last concert was performed on Sunday night to an enthusiastic audience of over 6000 people, at the Palace Grounds in Bangalore. It's such a beautiful city and was a fitting end to this remarkable trip. 

We have all grown to love "Incredible India", and I for one can't wait to come back again.


Matt Dunkley

Conductor / Arranger




Matt Dunkley | © Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities | Photo Courtesy: Karan Vaid