Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Happiness is.....(38)

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Director Roysten Abel conducting a rehearsal with the 36 musicians from The Manganiyar Seduction before their gala performance at the Singapore Arts Festival
ST Photo by Samuel He

My friend, Elsa, the ex-president of Singapore Toastmasters Club, invited me to a concert by the Mangainyar musicians from India. Intrigued, I accepted her invitation, and reciprocated by giving Elsa a dinner treat at the Japanese restaurant at the Esplanade before the concert proper.

Wow! The 70 minute show was indeed a gala show fit for a king! The singers and musicians traditionally sang for the kings of Rajasthan in north-western India.

Under the direction of New Delhi-based theatre and film director Roysten Abel, the musicians charmed the more than 900 strong audience with their energetic performance.

President S R Nathan, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Cabinet ministers were among those in the audience. Sitting in four stacked rows of cubicles framed with lgiht bulbs and red velvet curtains, the 36 Manganiyar musicians played among other songs, Alfat Un Bin In Bin, inspired by a Muslim poet's love for God. They also
played a Hindu hymn as an encore.

The performers captivated the audience from start to end, prompting many shouts of "Bravo!" at the end. Many of us had not heard such instruments like kamancha, dholak, murli, kartal, sarangi, morchang, bapang, algoza and dhol before, but together the music was wonderful and almost mesmerising!

I admire the performers for they sang and played without looking at their scores. The bare-footed conductor, Daevo Khan, dressed in his white baggy Indian outfit, looked like he was almost dancing on stage and thoroughly enjoying himself! The group deserved a standing ovation!

Happiness is when out of the blue, a friend invited me to something I am not familiar with, and out of gratitude and appreciation, I accepted without knowing what to really expect. Happiness is realising what great fun and joy I would have missed have I insisted on being a frog in my own well!

Thanks Elsa for a great evening and for giving this frog a chance to see and hear the world!

Gan Cao

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