Tag: mumbai

To the SOI, with love

To commemorate 15 years of the Symphony Orchestra of India, four regular concertgoers at the NCPA look back at some of their favourite performances and fond memories of India’s first and only professional orchestra

Ever since it was set up in 2006 by NCPA Chairman Mr. Khushroo N. Suntook and violin virtuoso Marat Bisengaliev, the Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI) has delighted audiences, both new and old. The home- grown ensemble has delivered spectacular performances under the batons of renowned conductors and, in recent years, been a grand success on international tours. This momentous milestone coupled with the reopening of the NCPA after a long, forced closure is reason enough to celebrate with gusto. We spoke to some of our audience members—Western classical music aficionados who have regularly attended SOI performances over the years—to better understand the significance of the existence and growth of the orchestra.

Gerson da Cunha

Theatre & film actor, author and social worker

There were just two city symphony orchestras in the 1940s and 1950s: First, the Bombay Symphony Orchestra with Jules Craen as conductor and Mehli Mehta as leader, and later, the Bombay Philharmonia, now called the Bombay Chamber Orchestra, under Cecil Mendonca. Both symphony orchestras were high-quality and performed great music at the Cowasjee Jehangir Hall at the Institute of Science, Mumbai. I find it hard to recall particular concerts and events served up over the years in the rich and varied fare that the city of Mumbai has enjoyed. But I do remember my first experience of music at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre. I stepped into the hall to notice Jamshed waving me to a seat beside him. He was in row ‘J’. “Here is where the sound is best,” he said, “J for Jamshed”. And who was to know better than Jamshed Bhabha himself about the theatre that was named after him. Truly, it was a great sound and a great performance of Mozart’s ‘Eine Kleine Nacht Musik’ played by a superb Viennese ensemble.

I find it difficult to detail what exactly I had heard the Symphony Orchestra of India play when I heard them back in 2006 and forward. But, there is little doubt that they set a new standard in the Western classical music one was listening to. The Jamshed Bhabha Theatre is also hugely different from the old Cowasjee Jehangir Hall, now the National Gallery of Modern Art. I believe that a chamber orchestra is a great idea and one to be encouraged as an economical way of programming good music. For now, it is, perhaps, enough to say that for some of us, a pall was cast over us when the SOI was temporarily unable to perform because of Covid-19 restrictions. With every good wish to the SOI!

Dr. Kashmira Mody

Professor of Economics

When it was announced in 2006 that we were going to have our very own symphony orchestra, I was thrilled. No more would we have to wait for occasional appearances by foreign orchestras (not that I don’t enjoy those performances). Here was an opportunity to regularly see and listen to live performances. The 15 years that I have attended SOI concerts have been special. We have been treated to a wide variety of classical music from different eras and composers; Baroque to Classical to Romantic eras and even music from modern composers. From just the strings to a full-sized orchestra, from combined choirs to operatic soloists, from full productions of operas to opera galas and even a musical theatre gala; we have had the opportunity to see and listen to it all. From the music connoisseur to the beginner, there is always something for everyone. I am not an expert on music, but like most people who enjoy listening to music, I can feel the difference between a good performance and one that could be better. Over the years, our orchestra has definitely improved. The players seem to gel together to give us a better sound each time. We can see and feel the hard work that has gone behind it all.

There are many fond memories of concerts, but the ones that stand out include the most recent one of Scheherazade, the 10 year celebration concert, the 50 years of NCPA gala, Handel’s Messiah, Holst’s The Planets, Wagner’s Ring without Words, Mendelssohn’s Symphony No.4, Rachmaninoff’s PC No.3, Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, Overture from the Thieving Magpie, Mendelsohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor, Beethoven’s PC No.5, the encore piece Moliendo Café, and even the concert at the Kala Ghoda Festival where they played the Magnificent Seven theme magnificently! Besides the concerts, what has been interesting are the special programmes arranged to give us insights into the compositions and the composers by SOI’s Associate Director Zane Dalal. The pre-concert talks were a condensed version of these. Of course, the very well-produced programme brochures are collector’s items. Yes, music is the food of life … So, play on SOI … play on!

Chetan Sharma

National award-winning animation film maker, writer & illustrator of children’s books 

My tryst with the Symphony Orchestra of India has been relatively recent, but it has nonetheless been quite intense. In all the formative years of the SOI, I was engaged in lengthy animation projects and had in fact shifted out of the city. For me, Western classical music, even with all the great music that exists, was often just really good background music at the time. Then, when I learnt of the existence of a professional symphony orchestra right here in Mumbai, I was fascinated. Thereafter, I attended most concerts over the last few years and was completely blown away. I often sketch at live shows, but sometimes I really cannot seem to do it when I’m at an SOI concert. I am always too stunned, as one would be, when soaking in the energy and vibrations of the music while watching the musicians and conductors who have put in all the hours of work leading up to that very moment. Of course, purely sketching ideas that surface from the music listening experience itself is great fun — the music at an SOI performance actually comes alive, enveloping you and tickling your imagination too.

I must admit — when it comes to knowledge of the music, I am nowhere close to the audience at Jamshed Bhabha Theatre. For me, every concert is both a sensory and learning experience. Still, if I had to mention a few recent SOI highs, many come to mind — like the epic Beethoven 9th, Zane Dalal’s awe inspiring Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Scherazade’, the Alexander Lazarev-conducted ‘Petrushka’, the Wagner gala and the gala concert with the Bolshoi soloists, Mikel Toms’ Mozart Chamber concert and even Ustad Zakir Hussain’s experimental ‘Peshkar’. These concerts remain standouts for me, personally.

Abbas Shahiwalla

Youth Director of Rotary Club of India & Portfolio Manager

I feel connected to the NCPA since my school days when I’d regularly attend plays and musicals in English, Hindi and Gujarati. I remember those evenings at the NCPA as nothing but classy and fun. I am a lover of both Western and Hindustani classical music, and used to play the guitar, sitar and a bit of the piano. The Symphony Orchestra of India is undoubtedly the most fabulous and fantastic musical experience Mumbai could ever have. You can understand that it is a product of the vision, passion and hard work of the respected Jamshed Bhabha and, of course, Khushroo N. Suntook. The first SOI concert I had attended was an achievement in itself. Today, the orchestra has grown beyond words to an international standard.

That said, we do need more young Indian musicians to join our very own SOI. We also need more chamber concerts by the SOI, and Prithvi Theatre is a good way to reach and develop newer audiences. Perhaps, performances at colleges could make for a nice and effective way to promote Western classical music in India so that the youth can listen to and understand this grand music. I strongly believe that the pre-concert talks on composers and compositions prove to be very important and enlightening for us all. These talks by Zane Dalal at the NCPA and by Dr. Cawas at Prithvi Theatre are superb as they give us details of the composers, the idea behind pieces, and how compositions evolve with a break-up of each movement. I always look forward to every new season of the SOI at the NCPA. If I had to name a favourite performance by the SOI, it would have to be the orchestra performing under the baton of conductor Charles Dutoit in 2013. The Jamshed Bhabha Theatre and the Symphony Orchestra of India experience is world-class, and we are thankful for their presence.

This piece was first published in the December 2021 issue of ON Stage by the NCPA Mumbai

Come one, come all

The Symphony Orchestra of India’s resident conductor, Evgeny Bushkov, is going to reinvent the concert experience to make Western classical music an exciting, accessible and welcoming experience for new listeners

*Click image to enlarge

*This piece was first published in the June 2017 issue of ON Stage, the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) monthly magazine.

 

6 Great Indian Food Walks

What do you do when you have just a few hours to discover a new city? You ditch your run-of-the-mill itinerary and let a food specialist walk you through the city’s delicacies as you soak in its cultural and historical landmarks. 

128 Food walks of India 1

128 Food walks of India 2

128 Food walks of India 3

* Published in the November 2016 issue of Spiceroute, the inflight travel magazine of Spice Jet airlines

#BeTheForce: The GOQii Fitness Band reviewed

The GOQii activity and fitness band pushes you to take that extra step thanks to unique features like one-on-one coaching, the ability to contribute to social causes, on-ground fitness events, and web chats with nutrition and health experts.

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I hopped on to the fitness bandwagon (pun intended 😉 ) sometime in December 2015 when I was gifted a FitBit. Prior to that, I had been tracking using apps like Armour, MyFitnessPal and, of course, Apple Health. I have since become that much more obsessed about tracking my steps, heart rate, sleep and what not after I started wearing the band. But I recently put my FitBit away to check out another piece of wearable tech — the GOQii. I imagined that I would get back to the FitBit within a few weeks of testing the GOQii. But here I am, three months down the line, still wearing and enjoying the features of the GOQii. Read on to know more about this fitness band that offers a host of interesting and motivational features.

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GOQii in the Power Black variation

A fitness band like no other

I’m not going to get into a review that compares the GOQii to other fitness trackers. That’s because the GOQii is so much more than just a fitness-tracking device. If you browse through the 2016 list of best fitness trackers, you’ll notice that most of the new devices offer a heart rate monitor, while a select few come with GPS functionality. The GOQii offers neither of these features, and it’s safe to say that you won’t even miss them. After all, it’s easy to get caught up with all that data crunching when you start tracking. But the thing about the GOQii is that it lets you immerse yourself in the world of numbers while gently pushing you to change your lifestyle with exciting initiatives.

But first, a little background on the company and the passionate people behind the GOQii band.

GOQii is headquartered in California and has offices in Mumbai and Shenzhen. The company was formed as a collaboration between some of the world’s leading experts who believe that a healthy, sustainable lifestyle is not too difficult to attain. Indian entrepreneur Vishal Gondal (ex-founder of gaming company Indiagames) is the founder and CEO of GOQii. Vishal, who has for a very long time been obsessed about tracking his health and fitness data, says that he experienced the lack of a ‘human’ touch when it came to other wearable tech products. And, that’s how GOQii was born.

Even the company investors are incredibly passionate about fitness. Madhuri Dixit-Nene is one among the list of investors who remain passionate about utilising technology to achieve a healthy and fit lifestyle. The teams who run the company — from nutrition and fitness experts right up to the tech guys — are just as ardently passionate. But more on this later. Continue reading “#BeTheForce: The GOQii Fitness Band reviewed”

Back to the blog

Yes, I know. We’re a good few months past Valentine’s Day. But I thought I’d share with you some of the stories I’ve been working on since the start of this year. This article, published in the Feb 2016 issue of Spice Route—the inflight travel magazine of Spice Jet airlines—covered some fab restaurants across India to help readers enjoy the world’s ‘most romantic’ day of the year. You’ll find an interesting mix of restaurants in this piece — some that are perfect for dinners in a serene setting far removed from urban environs, and another that’s known for its dishes that trace the migratory routes of Indians to faraway lands.

That said, it’s time to address the elephant in the room. I’ve been a bit inactive on the blogging front and a tad too caught up with deadlines. But it’s safe to say that this year began on a busy note, filled with days and nights of penning down lifestyle features for magazines. Four months into 2016 and I’m still enjoying writing at this frenetic pace and, thankfully, there are no signs in the offing of things slowing down. I am trying to get a bit more active on the blog. So you’ll be seeing a lot more interesting reads in the near future.

*You can click on the image below for better clarity, or to download the story in a higher resolution. Hope you enjoy this piece.

 

 

 

Bombay Shirt Company and Payal Singhal collaborate on a shirt collection for women

Payal Singhal's Capsule collection of women's shirts for Bombay Shirt Company
Payal Singhal’s capsule collection of women’s shirts for Bombay Shirt Company

You most likely already know and love Bombay Shirt Company. Launched in 2012, the bespoke shirt company for men and women, based in Kala Godha, Mumbai, was just what the city had been lacking. Because something as simple as a well-fitted shirt ranks high when it comes to getting your look right. Bombay Shirt Company also got its packaging right, down to its labels, tags and delivery boxes, from the very beginning.

You just know you're in for an outstanding product when its design and packaging is as attractive as this!
You just know you’re in for an outstanding product when its design and packaging is so clean

While the Bombay Shirt Company had already been offering bespoke services for women, it has now diversified to offer ready-to-wear shirts for women. The store has collaborated with acclaimed fusion-wear designer Payal Singhal to launch a capsule collection of shirts, which include both wardrobe staples and standout pieces.

Women's capsule collection designed by Payal Singhal for Bombay Shirt Company
Women’s capsule collection designed by Payal Singhal for Bombay Shirt Company

The line includes 12 easy-to-wear long shirts, with a choice of rolled-up and long sleeved styles that are perfect for the summer months ahead. that blend the sensibilities of the Bombay Shirt Company with Singhal’s well-established aesthetics.

Comprising a delicate mix of pastels in both solids and prints, this capsule collection for women is further enhanced with thoughtful detailing on the buttons, plackets, collars and cuffs.

Bombay Shirt Company founder Akshay Narvekar and fashion designer Payal Singhal
Bombay Shirt Company founder Akshay Narvekar and fashion designer Payal Singhal

Speaking about this curiously cool collaboration, the Bombay Shirt Company’s founder Akshay Narvekar said, “The idea behind this initiative is to have various creative personalities display their unique take on fashion and styling. We are thrilled to present our women customers a chance to wear special pieces designed by Payal Singhal herself.”

We also love the fact that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this and all future collections will be donated to an NGO of the influencer’s choice. In this case, Payal has chosen  the Akanksha NGO, aimed at providing children from low-income backgrounds with high-quality education.

This is clearly just the first of many such collaborations that The Bombay Shirt Company plans to enter into with fashion designers.