Students of Suzuki School of Violin, Pune
at a Gala Concert at Royal Albert Hall, London /
On Easter Sunday, 27th March 2016, on an otherwise cool and blustery spring evening, the Royal Albert Hall in Central London witnessed a unique musical event – the Suzuki Gala – that warmed the hearts of the 5000 audience members. Every seat in the hall was sold-out, in fact had been sold out months in advance of the event. And not sold out because of a big-name performer (of which the Royal Albert Hall has had plenty in its long and storied history), but because of a performance from 1200 budding young musicians that are part of the Suzuki family.
It was the dream for years of Helen Brunner, Director, British Suzuki Association to fill the Royal Albert Hall with a thousand Suzuki children from all over the world, playing their hearts out in sublime unison. Her dream came true on 27th of March, 2016 where 1200 children made a journey to perform together. They came from 28 countries speaking 22 languages.
14 students (age: 6 years to 16 years) along with their teacher Mrs. Rama Chobhe of Suzuki School of Violin Pune, represented India in this spectacular Suzuki Gala Concert. They were: Advika Dhar, Anuj Shah, Arav Lalsare, Arnav Lalsare, Chinmay Sreeram, Naavya Chopda, Rahil Barnabas, Renuka Sahasrabhojanee, Ruchir Ingali, Sameer Chari, Megha Khivnasara, and Tanish Sodhi. Some of these students have been playing for over 10 years. In addition, Akshat Venkatraman, Advait Bhartia, Payoja Chari, and Saha Madaan participated in the play-together’s prior to and after the Gala concert.
Helen Brunner sent an invitation to Mrs. Rama Chobhe when the concert was being planned. For a lot of these students and their parents, this was an event that they’d have never dreamed about. It was a great opportunity to perform on such a historic and prestigious stage which they were certainly not going to miss.Students from the school have always been active in such events – several students had participated in an International Suzuki Conference in Melbourne, Mrs. Chobhe had organized two different conferences in Lonavala and Lavasa, and students from the school are active in many events throughout the year in Pune.
Several intense practice sessions in Pune, and one Saturday morning play-together of a few hours of all of the 1200 students at the Royal Albert Hall, and the participants were ready for the Gala performance. An entire section at the center of the hall was cleared out to make place for the performers, in addition to an entire arc of performers stretching into the audience seats. The hall itself was spectacular – a sea of maroon seats, two massive television screens relaying close ups of the performers, and seats that go all the way up to the roof, where the giant mushroom acoustic diffusers hang from the ceiling.Clemency Burton-Hill was the compere for the evening.
Prof. Koji Toyoda, who is the President, International Suzuki Association, conducted the very first piece,“Wishing”, with all the instruments playing together in perfect harmony. It was spectacular and befitting any performance at the Royal Albert Hall. Strobe lights jumped from one group of young musicians to another. Eleven different instruments were represented: cello, double bass, flute, guitar, harp, mandolin, piano, recorder, viola, violin, and the Albert Hall opened its world-renowned organ especially for this occasion. The music seemed to float from different parts of the hall. On certain pieces, when hundreds of violins would join in, the entire hall reverberated with wonderful music.
The renditions of Carnival of Venice, Taki’s Moon over Ruined Castle on the flutes, and Siciliano played on the Harps drew special applause, as did the contrasting and awesome music from Monti’s Czardas and Mendelssohn’s Concerto III played on violins.
The level of playing was very high, higher than anybody would have expected, and it only reminded of what Dr. Suzuki always used to say – “Trust children and they will be able to do anything” and this could never have been more true than this concert.
By the time children were performing their last piece hundreds of multicolored balloons floated down from the roof of the Royal Albert Hall, the performers and the audience knew that they had been part of a phenomenal concert and experience, one that they would remember for many years.