BENGALURU: Solo performances as part of an orchestra were an unheard of thing until the pandemic resulted in an extended lockdown. Musicians like the members of the Bangalore School of Music Chamber Orchestra, who are used to taking to stage every now and then, decided to record their first-ever virtual performance to keep their orchestra running.
“Our inspiration was not just our need to play during the pandemic, but also an orchestra led by Kolkata-based musician Mich a e l Makhal,” says Dr Anant Kamath, a social scientist and Head of String Ensembles at BSM. The group comprises 11 performers (otherwise they are a group of 16) from different locations, most of whom are non-professional musicians, who recorded an adaption of the Overture from Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg.
“We’ve been meeting on Saturdays for the last several years. This was purely experimental, and the final experience was much more than we had bargained for,” Kamath says. Each member recorded their parts and sent it across to Kamath, who did the technical job of putting it together. “An orchestra involves an ensemble that practises together. It’s like working for a film together without cast and crew. Until now, there was no question of doing this solo,” he says.
Harmony and precisely syncing the voices of each of the group members proved to be a “daunting” task. Kamath says tunes fall apart if the voices are not in sync. “When we perform together in-person, there is slight room for error – going faster, or being louder. But in this case, every minute detail is noted,” says Kamath, who himself learnt the software, Da Vinci Resolve, to put the four-minute performance together. While orchestras are associated with conductors who wave their hands and lead the performers, this virtual orchestra didn’t have room for one, which was definitely a first for them.
“Otherwise, none of our performances is complete without our conductor V Narayanaswamy,” says Kamath, who closely follows the chamber orchestras in other cities. He wonders why they haven’t ventured into a virtual recording. But following suit was the music school’s Junior Orchestra, consisting of school-going youngsters who recorded a specially-arranged version of Coldplay single Viva la Vida, themed on the celebration of life amidst suffering.