The Symphony Orchestra of India’s SOI Music Academy, has been imparting music education to children between six and 16 years of age since 2012. Heading the project is SOI music director Marat Bisengaliev, who will conduct two concerts by the students this weekend.
The SOI Music Academy follows the Russian Conservatoire Method, where students are not only trained in great detail in their main instrument, but also in other instruments so that they can understand the way a symphony orchestra functions. “It is a very professional manner of teaching where each child is given individual attention,” elaborates Bisengaliev.
The academy currently has about 50 students. Besides the use of instruments, they learn about music history, theory, harmony, counterpoint and choir practices, besides participating in audio and video sessions to enhance their skills. The initial course lasts seven years, after which students are invited to choose a four-year programme if adequately qualified. Bisengaliev points out that the fees are manageable and that an effort is made to create a balance between music and their regular academics. “If good enough, they have a good chance of playing in the SOI,” he says.
While the popular choices are the violin, cello, viola and piano, there are students who have opted for the double bass, trumpet, clarinet and flute. “Though I supervise the training, the teachers are all part of the SOI, and have been trained in Europe,” says Bisengaliev. The five graduating academy students this year are from are among those enrolled in the pilot project seven years ago: cellist Ananya Radhakrishnan, and violinists Srishti Sen, Leah Divecha, Aaliya Ramakrishnan and Nyra Jain.
On the performance front, the students had two concerts in Abu Dhabi last year. The first of the Mumbai shows will feature the SOI Academy Orchestra. On Sunday, some students will play with the SOI Chamber Orchestra. The repertoire will include a wide mix from baroque composers like Jean Baptiste Lully and Johann Sebastian Bach to modern pieces. “They will also play small sections from concertos,” says Bisengaliev. There are plans for multi-city performances but, Bisengaliev doesn’t want to pressurise them with too many concerts. “We want them to be thorough,” he asserts.
SOI Academy Orchestra will perform at the Tata Theatre at 6 p.m. this evening and on April 14; for more details check at the box office.