By Siddhi Jain
New Delhi, June 21 (IANSlife) Amateur and professional musicians out in public parks and streets, making merry and music, is not an unusual sight on French-origin Fete de la Musique, or ‘Music Day’ on June 21. With the world slowly emerging from a Covid-19 shutdown, the revelry around this day has a digital venue.
A virtual, hour-long concert by Alliance Francaise de Delhi will feature French pianist Olivier Moulin, and Delhi-based Dutch cellist Saskia Rao-de Haas along with her son Ishaan Leonard Rao. It streams live on World Music Day evening.
The cellist of two decades, Saskia, says it is music day to them everyday, since they are with their music always. “I have written a book on world music from an Indian perspective for children, Duniya. This tells the story of music from Europe, North America, Mali and China. I wanted to tell the story through the eyes of children that play music and have a background in Indian music. We understand each other’s music and culture, and will bring more understanding and peace. Music is one of the strongest forms of diplomacy across the world,” the Dutch-born musician told IANSlife.
Her main expression as an artist is Indian classical music and as a composer and collaborator, she also makes use, knowingly or unknowingly, of the music she practiced extensively in her childhood in Netherlands. “I feel really fortunate that I had the rich exposure and training in both styles of music and love to show audiences the beauty of both styles and our own compositions.”
Married to sitarist Pt Shubhendra Rao, she is mother to a young music prodigy Ishaan Leonard Rao, who she says was “singing full songs before he even turned one! He could recognise 20 ragas by age 3. He mastered grade 8 of ABRSM when he was just 11 years old and started performing when he was 9. To try and help and guide that kind of talent is a huge responsibility. As parents, we try to encourage him to walk his own path and we are very proud of the strides he is taking as a musician.”
On World Music Day, she underlines the importance of music: “In these challenging times, music has an important role to play in mental health. Music brings joy, relieves sadness, helps to relax, and does so much more for us! The Fête de la Musique holds a special place in my heart, since we normally are in France at this time of year and usually perform somewhere in France on this wonderful festival.”
Joining her in the music concerts is French pianist Olivier Moulin, who describes the day as “an unique occasion during the year to play music outside in public spaces, and to gather professional and amateur musicians. It is the first day of summer, so the night comes late, temperatures are sweet, and it’s possible to enjoy the music outside in a relaxed atmosphere. A beautiful way to enjoy different styles of music!”
Asked about the musical exchange between India and France, he told IANSlife: “Indian pop music, through Bollywood films, is very popular in France and in the world. Personally, I’m very interested in Carnatic music, and I dream of attending a Carnatic music concert some day.”
His India tour two years ago featured the music of French composer Claude Debussy, and Moulin found Indian audience enjoying this style of music.
The noted French musician also stressed on the importance of a virtual celebration of World Music Day. Music is universal, and has the power to gather people from different cultures without the language barrier. Music can also bring hope and comfort in this difficult period.
Jean-Francoise Ramon, director, Alliance Francaise de Delhi, said, “Fete de la Musique is the festival of all music genres and of all music-makers from children to adults and from amateurs to professionals. Created in France on 21 June 1982 by Jack Lang, erstwhile French Minister of Culture, the day is now celebrated in over 100 countries now and has become an international highlight. AFD has been celebrating this day for the last 25 years with a goal to promote new talent.” The day remains free and open to everyone.
(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at [email protected])