The Start of a Journey
UK composer Shammi Pithia and band performed on 23 February in LantarenVenster in Rotterdam. It was a concert with many first. Shammi’s first concert in the Netherlands. First collaboration between vocalist Sangeeta Bhageloe together with Shammi and his band. The first time DesiYUP invited the honourable Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia.
Read this article to get an idea how we programmed this 3rd DesiYUP concert.
Do you remember that we produced a music video for Sangeeta Bhageloe that was our first step to introduce an upcoming local talent from the Netherlands in this concert. When we started with DesiYUP one of our goals was to connect Dutch musicians with artists outside the Netherlands.
Shammi’s music is not focussed on vocals, it’s more instrumental, but to make the music more accessible for the Dutch audience, who is keen to listen to vocal music, we included music pieces before Shammi’s performance and during his set. We connected with pianist Steven Bissesar who would also play his own work on the piano and together with Sangeeta.
Introducing pianist Steven Bissesar
In LantarenVenster we filmed an interview with Steven about his roots in Amsterdam, playing the piano at a very young age and his greatest inspirations Chopin and Herbie Hancock and fondness for jazz and neo-soul.
Masterclass at Grounds (SKVR)
To familiarise more local musicians with the work of Shammi we hosted a masterclass a day before the concert. It was a good mix of people interested in music, aspiring musicians and a few professionals. During the masterclass Shammi explained the process of how he composes music. After which he demonstrated on the spot how to rearrange musician compositions. Everybody was invited to participate be it vocally or by playing a music instrument. This was a wonderful attempt of bringing worlds together and the Creation of Something Meaningful.
To promote the concert Creation of Something Meaningful (COSM) we did a radio tour across Holland. The benefit was that DesiYUP was a brand new organisation and radio hosts were interested in what we had to say. Together with the host of the concert Shantie Singh and vocalist Sangeeta Bhageloe we planned a media tour, visiting several radio stations in Holland: SunriseFM, Radio Vahon, SKSFM and Radio Mann.
Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia
It’s hard to recall the exact moment when Shammi and I spoke about his inspiration and where he learned the flute. The only mental note that I made was the name of flautist Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia. That he was his inspiration and that Shammi learned the bansuri (flute) by watching videos of the Maestro.
Inviting Pt. Chaurasia to the concert
A-what-if thought crossed my mind. What if I write a letter to Pt Chaurasia to attend the concert? Even though Shammi is not his official student or anything like that, if a person so far away can make a huge impact on an artist it’s worthy of acknowledgement. Without consulting Shammi I wrote the Maestro of Bansuri. I put my journalism skills to practise and eventually got PanditJi’s contact details. I wrote him an email and humbly asked him if he was willing to fly all the way from India to visit our first concert with Shammi.
Connecting with a programmer
In the meantime I continued organising DesiYUP’s 3rd concert. During this time I got in touch with a programmer of Dr. Anton Philipszaal. The programmer showed her interest in our concept and what DesiYUP stands for: giving new voices a platform in the Netherlands and connecting people with different backgrounds. From the start the intention was clear. We do not encourage segregation through Arts. We connect people from various ethnic backgrounds and our instrument will be music.
Maestro agreed to come
When I read an email written by Pt. Chaurasia I was at first stunned. If we could arrange the logistics he was happy to come and join our concert. You can imagine it made all the musicians pretty nervous that the Maestro had agreed to come, but it also motivated all of us to give it our best. Our mission to create something meaningful was set in place.
The foundation was laid
What started off in July 2012 with recording music video in London concluded with a standing ovation from the audience and wonderful meet & greet opportunity with a legend. Increasing the visibility of local Dutch talent globally and the cherry on the cake was an invitation from the programmer to bring Creation of Something Meaningful to The Hague, De Nieuwe Kerk. Dreams came together. Many firsts were initiated and there and then the slogan of DesiYUP was cemented: Sharing Meaningful Music. DesiYUP was here to stay! The encouraging words of the living legend inspired us all to continue this musical journey.
Interested to see more pictures of this memorable concert? Click on the link.