Those of you that have never heard a pipe organ in a church must rectify this immediately. It is the only instrument that can fill you with awe, fear, calm, sorrow, joy and peace all in the span of a few minutes. You can easily imagine it to be a huge living breathing being, capable of bursting into a thousand booming voices that occupy every corner of your brain. The recently restored pipe organ at St Mark's (MG Road, Bangalore) with its huge flues and reeds almost a storey high each, is the only one in Bangalore that is in concert condition.
The organ accompaniment to Duruflé's requiem, a tough 20th century piece that we are performing this weekend, is melancholy, disconnected at times, and breathtakingly beautiful at others. When the organist pressed his foot tentatively down on a deep d, we all went silent for a couple of seconds, savouring the funny quiver that aimed itself exactly at the middle of our chests and set the entire requiem alight.
Practice was gruelling. The organist has his back to the conductor, and the music is tough as nails. We might have to resort to using the cathedral's fine electric organ- almost indiscernable to the untrained ear from the original, so that we can co-ordinate better. But I'm hoping against all hope that we might be able to use the living breathing goliath with some practice. To hear the wind rush in and out of its great throat as it sings to accompany us.
Modern classical music is free from the traditional mores of composition. Varying time signatures, crazy passages and bizzarely beautiful chords make it a treat to listen to, provided your mind is open to it. It is madness to perform, but completely worth the effort.
Here's what we're doing, among others:
Duruflé's Requiem - A haunting, sombre, yet tender modern requiem by Maurice Duruflé, a famous French composer.
Agnus Dei - by Samuel Barber, originally an adagio for strings, re-written for voice and organ. You might have heard the strings version in the movie Platoon.
Rejoice in the Lamb - A modern composition by Benjamin Britten, a brilliant English composer, set to lyrics written by Christopher Smart, a delightfully mad 18th century poet, who actually wrote from a lunatic asylum.
How exactly a monsoon audience on a plateau in South India is going to react to it remains to be seen :) If youd like to react too, stroll over to St marks Cathedral, MG Road Bangalore, on Saturday 22nd Sep at 6:45pm for an evening of contemporary sacred music accompanied by the beautiful organ at St Marks.
It's in a church, and it's free, so be nice :)