Air Warriors' symphony reverberates in Rastrapati Bhavan

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News Delhi, Oct 27 (UNI) A symphony of melodies created a solemn and poignant atmosphere at the Rashtrapati Bhavan auditorium as the celebrated Air Warriors Symphony Orchestra of the Indian Air Force performed before President Pratibha Patil this evening. The Orchestra, comprising 80 musicians with about 60 performing on stage, showcased its talents with an interesting musical montage comprising well-known Western symphonies, jazz, Indian classical, devotional, medley and patriotic compositions before a select audience including top Air Force officers and ministers.

The concert began with Mozart's Symphony Number 40, which one gets to hear at the Republic Day Parade and the Beating Retreat. The symphony also inspired composer Salil Choudhary to use it for his popular track ''Itna na mujhse tu pyaar badha'' for the Hindi film 'Chhaya'.

The mood then swung towards the devotional with 'Fusion with Devotion'. The piece-- a fusion of Hindustani and Carnatic style- was arranged by T J Rajaraman, a mridangam exponent, and comprised a fusion of two devotional numbers, 'Sri Ramchandra Kripalu' (Hindustani Style) composed by Hridyanath Mangeshkar and sung by Lata Mangeshkar (Carnatic style).

The next in line was the 'Beatles Medley' comprising four of their songs namely ' Can't buy me love', 'Hard day's night', 'Get back' and 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da ' which was specially arranged for the brass section and no woodwind instrument was used.

The audience was treated to an aural delight when the band performed Frank Sinatra's immortal 'Strangers In The Night' followed with a jazz number composed by Dr L Subramaniam.

The mesmerising performance was carried further with Music director A R Rahman's 'Dil Hai Chhota Sa' from the popular Mani Ratnam film 'Roja'.

The band, which has performed at various festivals across the country and abroad, then enthralled the audience with its rendition of 'Motherland', a classical fusion composed by Dr. L. Subramaniam.

The rendition, which commenced with a mesmerising Shehnai recital in the raga 'jog', was blended with Hindustani, Carnatic and Western styles.

The orchestra, formed in 2002 by selecting musicians from various air force bands, comprises musicians who play brass, woodwind, reed, electronic and percussion instruments and is presently stationed in Bangalore.

''When Air Chief Krishnaswamy took over, he was keen that the Air Force has a concert band. So this Orchestra was formed and the members were chosen from the seven bands from the seven existing bands (of each Air Command) of the Air Force which used to play on ceremonial occasions and guard of honour some time back,'' director of the band Squadron Leader P K Jena --a trained violinist and sarod player -- told UNI.

''These musicians (holding various posts in the Air Force) underwent rigorous training,'' he added.

For almost two hours, the orchestra captivated the audience with their lilting melodies including a musical medley of German folk songs and a beautiful rendition of the famous 'Lady of Spain'.

Their repertoire was indeed wide and the musicians effortlessly played along with just a break of a few minutes living up to their motto of 'touching the sky with harmony'.

The audience was taken down memory lane with the Swedish pop group ABBA's composition 'Money Money Honey Honey'.

The 14-piece concert, which provided the audience with a taste of orchestral music, concluded with Vande Mataram --a tribute to the men and women who marched to the gallows during the freedom struggle-- written by Bankim Chandra Chatterji, composed by Hemant Kumar and immortalised in the film 'Anand Math' by Lata Mangeshkar.

The concert was the first major function hosted at the brand new state-of-the-art auditorium of Rashtrapati Bhavan having a seating capacity of 300.


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