BENGALURU: Though he has visited Bengaluru several times, German musician Matthias Schriefl’s latest performance in the city, at Bangalore International Center, Domlur, was close to his heart. The musician is a part of the four-member band Amithias Project, which includes Bengaluru-based Carnatic musician Amith Nadig, and percussionists Anoor Vinod Shyam and Sunaad Anoor. Their performances explore the crossover between Indian Classical music and German music. “The entire tour was an eye opener for me. I never knew that Indian audience would take to our kind of music and appreciate its technicalities,” reveals Schriefl.
Amithias Project is led by flutist Nadig, who has been working with Schriefl since 2009. “In 2009, Matthias came to India to learn Classical music from local musicians, which is when I met him. We started bonding, which led to some original compositions later,” Nadig shares. Through their music, they try to find a common point between two styles of music, namely Indian and German Classical. This attempt, however, is not without its share of challenges. “For example, I need to learn some harmonies that I never practised before. I learned yodling, which is a style of high pitch singing prevalent in South Germany, Switzerland and Austria. There farmers yodle to call the sheep and cows back to the farm. At Amithias
Project, we have a piece where I yodle, and this is accompanied by Indian classical notes and raagas like harikambodhi.”
Likewise, the 38-year-old Schriefl has also tried some new techniques. “Indians play Mallari, a South Indian Classical nadaswaram piece. I found some similarity with German jazz music in it, so we re-arranged them. It’s a treatment of German jazz into Classical Indian Mallari. It has a nine beat cycle, a typical Indian Classical music composition, but the arrangement will feel like it’s created out of jazz.”
The tour included a 90-minute long live instrumental concert, which comprises 9-12 songs that were performed at Swathi Sangeethothsavam, 2020, Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai, and in several stages in Bengaluru. It also includes a Bharatanatyam performance by Amith’s wife Nivedita Sharma. “All the dance pieces are choreographed by me. These are not traditional Bharatanatyam pieces. First I had to understand the intricacies of the band’s music and then tried to align the performance with the traditional dance form,” says the 33-year-old dancer.
However, Schriefl is the one who will miss the tour the most. “I love India and now I’m coming back after a two year gap. I was doing lots of projects in Germany. I always excited to come here. When I reached the Bengaluru airport I went down on my knees and kissed the ground,” he says, adding that he also loved his journey on the Indian Railways this time. “It was amazing. I was just randomly going around and speaking to strangers. Their affection and company was really touching.”