Rare treat for classical music lovers as orchestra


PANAJI: Over the past month, around 50 musicians have been practising incessantly in an effort to give classical music aficionados in Goa a “rarest of rare” treat — a live performance by a full-fledged, home-grown orchestra playing an entire symphony.
When the Fr Romeo Monteiro-led orchestra takes the stage at the Institute Menezes Braganza hall on Tuesday evening to play Joseph Haydn’s Symphony no. 70, there will be a robust string section, as well as timpani and wind instruments including French horns and trombones, and also a saxophone. The orchestra will comprise musicians who are in their early teens as well as those in their fifties.
The symphony is one of over a hundred composed by Haydn, the classical-period Austrian master who was friends with Mozart and taught Beethoven. He is often called the Father of the Symphony due to his immense contribution to this form.
Tuesday’s performance is part of ‘Founder’s Day’, an annual tribute to Maestro Antonio Figueiredo, who was born on August 20, 1908. In 1952, he founded the Academia de Musica da India Portuguesa, India’s first school that taught western classical music systematically. In 1970, the institution he founded was absorbed by Kala Academy, and since then, has been supported by the state government.
While the event on Tuesday will also have a prize distribution ceremony and other performances by students, including instrumentals and choirs, “The main event will be Haydn’s Symphony no. 70 played by the Kala Academy Symphony Orchestra”, said Monteiro.
Presentations by symphony orchestras in Goa have been few and far between. Fewer than a handful of such ensembles, mostly from abroad, have hit the state over the past 15 years, which makes Tuesday’s performance an even rarer treat. Monteiro, a seasoned conductor of choirs and orchestras who holds annual concerts in churches across Goa, is a former director of the legendary St Cecilia choir at Rachol, which was formed in the late 19th century and is still going strong today — possibly the oldest choir on the continent.
For old-time classical music lovers, Tuesday’s concert will also rekindle memories of the glory days of Kala Academy, when then director Fr Lourdino Barreto conducted the Goa Symphony Orchestra, which incidentally had Romeo Monteiro as member. Now, Monteiro, himself director of western music at the academy, is set to follow in his mentor’s footsteps with this ambitious performance of Haydn’s 70th.

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