Sri Aurobindo Society was happy to host world-famous composer, winner of multiple awards, and Reid Professor of Music at the University of Edinburgh and Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover, Dr Nigel Osborne and his team of internationally renowned musicians, who visited Puducherry from 5th to 10th November 2013, in preparation for their opera Nachiketa—a work in progress.
Dr Osborne has composed the music for the opera—Nachiketa—which brings together a fusion of Indian classical, Carnatic music, Bharatanatyam with Western classical music, opera and theatre. One of its kind in the world, it is a modern-day adaptation of the story of a child protagonist Nachiketa, a story taken from the Kathopanishad.
The fusion opera performance not only brings together the best of western and eastern music, but is also a step towards strengthening cultural ties between the two. This was highlighted by the presence of Dr Bryan Minghui Bi, Associate Professor of Music at the Peking University, Beijing, who was also visiting Sri Aurobindo Society with Dr Nigel Osborne and his team.
Prior to its grand premiere in the West, Dr Osborne made a conscious decision to bring the opera Nachiketa to India, ‘to touch the soil that it has come from’.
Dr Sampadananda Mishra, Director of SAFIC, conducted a workshop on the deeper understanding of Sanskrit and significance of the Upanishads for the team.
The group rendered three beautiful performances: one at Sharanam, our rural development extension and training centre; second at a village neighbouring Puducherry, Kuruvinatham, where Sri Aurobindo Society is working on a rural outreach project with the local theatre group on community-based palliative care; and the last one at the premises of an associate organization—Satya Special School (an educational institute for physically and mentally differently abled children)—collaborating to look for ways to use creative arts for mobility, language vocalization, sensory development as well as cognitive and health aspects, using music for cognitive and neurophysiological therapy. The team also conducted a workshop with the children, parents and teachers at the Satya School, demonstrating ways of working with music and sound therapy.
The troupe performed with local artists and musicians from Puducherry and Chennai, including the renowned and awarded violinist Dr Embar Kannan. Dr Osborne’s team not only performed for the local community but also invited them to participate and actively engage with them.
Besides composing music, Dr Nigel Osborne has also been a human rights activist for many years, using music and sound therapy to work with special children and children in war-stricken countries all over the world. He has been the winner of the Opera Prize of Radio Suisse Romande and Ville de Geneve, the Netherlands Gaudeamus Prize, the Radcliffe Award and the Koussevitzky Award of the Library of Congress, Washington. His works have been featured in most major international festivals and performed by many leading orchestras and ensembles around the world, ranging from the Moscow to the Berlin Symphony Orchestras, and from the Philharmonia of London to the Los Angeles Philharmonic.