To honour the 75th Anniversary of Indian Independence, the Australian Institute of Music hosted a performance featuring some of the region’s most talented musicians and dancers.
Brought to us by the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre (SVCC), the cultural wing of the Consulate General of India in Sydney, the mind-blowing performers introduced staff and students to the magic of Indian classical music and regional folk traditions. This special show was part of their tour of the High Commissions in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra and was indicative of the deep relationship they maintain with AIM educator and accomplished percussionist Chris Fields. Watch moments from the show on YouTube below.
Performers included heralded Bharatanatyam dancer Pavitra Bhat and his dance troupe as well Dr. Jayaprada Ramamurthy (the first female A-grade flute artiste of the Twin Telugu States) who played Carnatic classical music. Margam Academy dancers performed Gujarati folk dance, providing a glimpse of one of the myriad of regional Indian dance styles.
“Indian classical music is an artform that’s been developed over thousands of years. It is rooted in improvisation, unlike Western classical music,” AIM lecturer Chris Fields explains. “India has the most thorough training system for developing fluidity in melodic and rhythmic improvisation on Earth,” he continues.
“Indian classical music has taken the oral tradition of transmission and applied that at a scientific level to every aspect of music making,” Chris explains. “Everything that the percussionist plays, you can sing, exactly. Everything that the flute player plays can be sung; the same with dance. This connection between the external presentation of music and art, and this deep vocabulary to express that, musically, are some of the most important aspects of Indian music. It’s something that I try to pass on to our students as much as possible.”
This special performance aligns naturally with AIM’s world-facing ethos. Unlike many similar institutions, our teachers educate in styles outside Western, classical and jazz. Whilst AIM references Indian music specifically through our Indian Rhythms elective and improvisation class, this performance being hosted on our campus represents something deeper. “We live in a global environment of music making in the arts,” Chris Fields says. “You cannot be a functioning musician or artist and be insular. This performance aligns with our philosophy of open minded and inclusive education,” he explains.