Members of Tomorrow’s Warriors had a fantastic treat on 16th March 2013 when our Youth Warriors and music leaders took part in a very special sharing session with SAMYO – the UK’s National Youth Orchestra for Indian Music – as part of our Young Artist Development Programme at Southbank Centre, London.
We arranged the sharing after a chance meeting of Tomorrow’s Warriors directors, Janine Irons and Gary Crosby with Alok Nayak - SAMYO's Director of Development - at an Advance Network forum earlier this year. Janine and Gary were so enthused by his vision and energy, and Alok was very keen to learn more about our organisation and practice. All three were eager to make links and create an opportunity for our young musicians to get together as soon as possible.
As luck would have it, SAMYO were scheduled to celebrate their 10th Anniversary on Saturday 16 March at Southbank Centre so this provided a most opportune moment to organise a sharing between our respective cohorts.
On the day, two of SAMYO’s finest music leaders – percussion conductors Kousic Sen and Bangalore Prathap – and some of their wonderful young musicians came to join us for part of our regular Development Session with our Youth Warriors. Kousic and Prathap taught the group some of their different counting mechanisms using clapping and vocalising, and their young musicians demonstrated some of the fabulously intricate rhythms that underpin Indian music. They also explained how SAMYO is breaking new ground, turning what is essentially improvised music for solo instruments into music for performance by an orchestra of traditional instruments – a formidable challenge, but one the organisation has met with confidence and style, making SAMYO the only orchestra of its kind in the world.
Our Youth Warriors and music leaders were so utterly absorbed in the teachings of our visitors that the time just ran away, sadly leaving little time for us to reciprocate. However, there was just enough time for Tomorrow’s Warriors music leader, Nathaniel Facey to play two recordings of Rudresh Mahanthappa - an American musician of Indian heritage – that also featured the stunning pianist, Vijay Iyer. The songs, Balancing Act (from the album, Black Water) and Enhanced Performance (from the album, Code Book) demonstrated some of the possibilities of blending Indian classical music with modern jazz, as opposed to simply layering one genre on top of the other. Judging by the tapping feet and nodding heads, this musical blend had some resonance with several of the young SAMYO musicians and their leaders, as well as with our Warriors.
Clearly, no sharing with Tomorrow’s Warriors could end without a bit of a jam session and, despite their sound check beckoning, and the session extending for more than 30 minutes longer than planned, our new-found friends were more than happy to continue. Nathaniel led with the jazz standard, Softly As In A Morning Sunrise leaving members from both groups to contribute improvised solos.
It was a fabulous session – “AWESOME!!” was the unanimous verdict of our Warriors – made brilliant by the warmth and generosity of Kousic, Prathap and the SAMYO musicians in sharing their knowledge and skills with us.
Mighty thanks to Alok, Kousic, Prathap and all the SAMYO young musicians for inspiring us. We welcome you wholeheartedly to our extended musical family and look forward with great excitement to our next sharing.