Music
Bangalore Broadway Company combines a variety of music styles, dance and theatre and performed in the city on May 12.

In a room full of enthusiastic people, driven by music and a common goal to create something unique, exceptional things can happen. The members of the band Bangalore Broadway Company (BBC) came together and used their creative instincts to come up with music that is both utterly captivating and mellifluous.

On May 12, the 22-piece band performed a great repertoire of music including A Capella, African folk, Disney music, traditional Japanese songs and Broadway musical and launched themselves with their first official show in the city at Oo Heaven.

Courtesy: Manik Hundgenn

“Bangalore Broadway Company was initially conceptualised for an original musical, with soulful and heart-tugging music, called ‘Sundari’ which is in the process of scripting and will be launched in 2019. Meanwhile, the group was growing and music lovers were showing interest in the concept of the band, so we couldn’t resist giving Bangaloreans a sneak-peak into what BBC is all about and hence we decided to do this launch show”, says Sowmya Raghavan, director of BBC.

Accompanied by humorous introductions for all the pieces, the evening was embellished with laughter, amusement and the audience soaked in the delightful melodies. “Western Music had been a big influence in my growing up years, so it was a moving experience to witness the BBC show and the rhythmic drum beats, African melodies and especially the choice of songs made the event very rejuvenating and soothing at the same time,” says Raji Chidambaram, who attended the launch show on Saturday.

Courtesy: Manik Hundgenn

Ranging from the Finnish A Capella ensemble, Gospel music, African folk songs, traditional Japanese music to the Broadway musical, the show was not just about music and lyrics, it was more than that. It was about movement and life; it was about the play of various instruments from guitar, drums, clarinet to saxophone. It also depicted various relationships as well, such as between a father and his daughter in the theatrical piece Peas in a pod from the musical Grey Gardens presented by the singers, Ketki Herlekar and Puneet Shankar. The dance moves, the feet-thumping, and the different sounds of animals and the rain were engaging for the audience and added more to the show.

“BBC was able to strike a balance between the visual and vocal aspects, which provided a very well-rounded experience, and I think it was one of the first of its kind in the city. The commitment of the members was seen in the quality of their production since they had very intricate set pieces, and I think their actions were well choreographed and everyone got so involved in the performance”, says Abraham George who is a student of western classical music and a part of Christ University Choir.

There were songs performed about breaking the monotony and drudgery of  routine life, on following your passion and living life to the fullest as if you had only a few months to live. This came alive through the Butterfly, which is a 6-piece harmony composed by Rajaton – a Finnish A cappella ensemble. The audience was especially touched by the final piece, Circle of Life from the Disney movie, The Lion King, which also proved to be a great end to the show. There were compositions celebrating the positive nature of the human mind and the aftereffects of not paying heed to a warning on a community, displaying the general human behaviour. The production was an attempt at storytelling, created with a mix of traditional bands, contemporary choir and dancers which was structured and yet very organic, with space and opportunity for creativity and unique inputs.

Talking about the formation of the band, Sowmya tells TNM, “Majority of us were passionate musicians, doing great with different groups and bands we were a part of. When the concept of BBC was being discussed and the information was being spread through word of mouth, people approached us and showed interest in being part of it. I believe that at some point in life, all of us were inspired by harmonies, Disney movies and this style of music which is more vocal-based and that is what, I think, we singers especially share in common. I had also taken two singers by auditions and yes, that is how the band grew through our own circles inside.”

“The best part about the group has been that we all have stuck together and pulled through despite economic and other obstacles. As we know, bands and such music groups are not funded by any organisation or company and we have been glad to have had mentors who have supported and guided us throughout,” adds Sowmya.

With a collection of people between the age groups of 25 and 40, there are two young college students also who became a part of the band and have learnt and grown as singers with the help of the other members. 19-year-old Shikha Chandrashekar, who is the youngest in the lot shares, “As a budding singer myself, it is a great learning experience for me, being around all the trained musicians, most of who have learnt Carnatic classical or Western classical. I think a novice in the field would not find a better space to grow than being surrounded by people who know a lot and are willing to share and teach as well. All of them have been very humble to me and have taught me many new techniques and methods which one acquires through years of training and practice. They are very inclusive and supportive and I am lucky enough at this young age to be a part of this group and learn so much from these amazing people.”

The band looks forward to more growth and recognition in the city and will be coming out with another performance on a larger scale to keep their audience engaged with their work, before they launch their original musical next year.