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Expanding the space for opera

Published : Apr 4, 2017, 12:13 am IST
Updated : Apr 4, 2017, 6:42 am IST

Patricia Rozario, the Mumbai-born soprano, who has an international reputation.

Patricia Rozario
 Patricia Rozario

Patricia Rozario, the Mumbai-born soprano, who has an international reputation, and her husband Mark Troop, a renowned pianist, are back in Chennai for the follow-up of their masterclasses workshop which happened last year. The foundation Giving Voice Society — the brainchild of the duo — has been honing skills of western classical singers and teachers in India. In addition to training, GVS also aims to provide a performance platform for the local talents. DC, in an interview with the duo talks about the western classical music scene in Chennai, the proceedings of the workshop and the talent pool of India in terms of western classical music.

On genesis of GVS...
MT: We have been coming to India for many many years, and by the suggestions of a few good friends, Patricia decided to come here and see what the teaching here was like. We started teaching a few students in few north Indian cities, and we got an overwhelming response. Initially, there was a problem though; people just floated in and gave one lesson and left. This sort of left the students confused. We thought we would come little more regularly, so the  teachers from the institution will teach the same stuff. So, that was the genesis of GVS.

PR: I also remember that when I finished the school here, the government had pulled music from the curriculum. Although my contemporaries did a lot of singing naturally, I think that the next generations lost the connection with western classical music. Though there were a lot of choirs in Mumbai, I didn’t think they were well as they could have. By then I was already teaching at Royal College of Music, London, I thought of bringing the technique to India and connect with young singers here.

Indians in western classical music
PR: What is very encouraging is that nowadays, I find a lot of young people who are interested in arts. They also find about the courses and are contacting us. We go to two or three cities in India, thrice a year, we find students coming from smaller towns. The thing we have to stress is that it is a long and slow process to understand a style.

MT: And they are really quick! Compared to students from the west, who are either demotivated or not just that bothered, Indians pick up things fast. It is also dangerous in a way because they think they have got further than they actually have.

Are there enough of performance opportunities in here?
PR: No, not yet! That’s something we have been aware of. I just said to one of our committee members that there are many festivals in here and we need to take our GVS singers and the students we have worked with. It is starting to happen in Mumbai.

MT: The answer at the moment is that there aren’t enough opportunities. Mumbai now has the world opera house, which is I think is a nice symbol for the possibility of doing opera.

How are Chennaites  in western music? And how is the city treating you?
PR: Last time when we came to Chennai we were overwhelmed by the city. Now, it has turned friendly. Coming to the students, I think Chennaties are serious about whatever they do. There is an interest in dance, theatre, and singing. Though they are steeped in Carnatic music, they are dedicated to western classical music. Some of them want to find a way to connect the both and to see if some of the techniques in western help their Carnatic music. I think it would!

Tags: classical music, patricia rozario