| 20 Apr 2024
Khushroo N Suntook: "We are slowly getting on to the musical map of world"

National Centre for the Performing Arts chairman Khushroo N Suntook:

Year of 2012 for NCPA:

As the New Year begins, we look back on 2012 as a year of increased enhancement in the quality of cultural and artistic offerings by the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai to our members and the public. The progress we have made in bringing to life our vision of becoming a centre whose curated products gradually increase in proportion to the total performances offered is gratifying. Another part of the gradual popularity of the NCPA, nationally and internationally, is the amount of offers from groups wishing to perform at our Centre. Indeed, we are now, slowly getting on to the musical map of the world.

The NCPA’s Indian music calendar tries to rise above conventional classical definitions and encompasses everything that is original and diverse. There was rich diversity in store for audiences in 2012; the NCPA continued to move away from predictable patterns of programming. Citi-NCPA ‘Aadi Anant’ (the travelling festival of Indian Music), toured from Mumbai to Delhi and then to Bengaluru in January last year. (Showcasing the celebrated gurus such as Zakir Hussain and Ajoy Chakrabarty, with their prominent shishyas, the festival travelled to Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi and Pune, in this year’s edition.) Another unique offering was a festival of instrumentalists, ‘Saz-e-Bahar’.

The All India Musicians’ Group (AIMG), who are hosted twice a year by the NCPA, have been consulting amongst themselves with our Central Government and have kindly invited the NCPA as an observer. We were pleased at the press conference in early 2012 to hear of the tangible support to classical music in India from the Central Government, the Prime Minister’s office and the Ministry of Culture. There is a proposal to have an exclusive music channel on TV manned by professionals. Also a government scheme to support 100 gurus of Indian music to teach advanced pupils was a welcome revelation.

We presented ‘Timeless Tagore’ – a multi-arts festival featuring music, dance and drama, a tribute to our great and timeless icon, Rabindranath Tagore, not just in Bengali but in Indian regional languages as well. The monsoon welcomed the NCPA Tata Capital ‘Bandish’. In its third year, the much-awaited festival featured the music of great composers, performed by today’s stalwarts. When hosting peerless performances, such as those presented in ‘Bandish’, we will record the same for posterity. The NCPA is moving towards creating its own NCPA-curated properties, such as ‘Chaturprahar’, where fine artistes will explore the relationships of ragas with diurnal time cycles.

Baba: A Tribute to Maihar Maestro, was organised in association with Prasar Bharati to celebrate the sesquicentennial birth anniversary of the legendary founder of the Maihar gharana. Starting off a new relation with India’s largest public broadcaster, the event was broadcasted on all Doordarshan channels and we have been working towards encouraging TV channels to broadcast quality performing arts to a broader audience.

In Western classical music, February saw the Symphony Orchestra of India’s (SOI) Opera Season and the culmination of more than a year’s effort in bringing to the opera loving public of Mumbai probably two of the most popular operas in the repertoire: Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci. The SOI also presented Carl Orff’s powerful and elemental concert performance of Carmina Burana. The NCPA was proud to associate our SOI with the diamond jubilee celebrations of Indo-German diplomatic relations in September, by presenting two concerts of mostly German music. (We are grateful to the Goethe Institute for arranging to bring the German conductor, Christoph Poppen, and fine violinist, Lena Neudauer, to play with the orchestra some great masterpieces. We thank our patron Citi India. These types of collaborations do need support from corporations and individuals to bring quality presentations, which is the raison d’?tre of the NCPA. )

The popular French group of fine chamber musicians, the Arties, returned to the NCPA. They have developed a loyal group of admirers and their presentation, which is of high international calibre, is being increasingly appreciated. We also had the wonderful Kodály Quartet in concert. This is a great chamber music ensemble, and their deep musicianship and sonorous tone are things of wonder that are not to be missed. The charming and elegant Charlotte de Rothschild presented a programme in April, while the wonderful young violinist, Alina Ibragimova played at a concert that was not to be missed. Jazz enthusiasts welcomed the tribute to Whitney Houston and the Luca Ciarla Quartet and its innovative Mediterranean jazz sound.

The NCPA opened its first training school for advanced young string players, carefully chosen by Marat Bisengaliev, the SOI’s Music Director and Zane Dalal, SOI’s Resident Conductor, who will be taught by our resident Russian and Kazakh musicians trained in the Moscow School of Music. The Suzuki concert was a resounding success. It was a great sight to see 250 children on stage, all passionately devoted to their instruments, gradually improving their proficiency. The NCPA is sensitising young people to appreciate the performing arts with the Suzuki initiative, the advanced training courses for gifted young children by excellently qualified teachers, the MusiKi programme, etc.

Marketing for NCPA:

The interactive workshop and concert with the wonderfully accomplished players of the Carnegie Hall and Julliard School of Music and communications with the Carnegie Hall group also gave us an insight into how the world’s best schools take their experience forward in employing modern methods for better execution and appreciation of great music. In order to make the NCPA better known globally, there are several ideas on which we are working, apart from considerably upgrading both the SOI and the NCPA websites. In addition, we are planning to attract international audiences to the NCPA, and also to start an international tour of the SOI.

I went to China in June at the invitation of the NCPA, Beijing, to attend the World Theatre Forum. Most of the leaders of the operatic world attended, and it was heartening to note that opera is well and thriving. The striking feature was the strong support this art form receives from the respective governments, and the huge involvement by the community at large, which is yet a pipe dream for us. We also had a visit from probably the foremost technology-driven broadcaster in the world, Christopher Bretnall, who advised us on the technological requirements to create high-quality recordings of our performances. 

Two major events on the musical scene took place in October. We reached an agreement with the Metropolitan Opera, New York, for broadcasts starting with the performance of Donizetti’s delightful L’Elisir d’Amore. This is followed by 16 other broadcasts of operas, enthralling our listeners with extremely well-crafted performances from arguably the greatest opera house in the world. NT Live and MET Live are regular monthly features, and bring to our doorsteps some of the greatest performances of theatre and opera in the world, at extremely affordable prices.


January 2013, we get together to celebrate the spirit of artistic plurality with One World Many Musics, featuring the well-known vocalist Shubha Mudgal. Our old friend Dmitry Sitkovetsky and his distinguished colleagues came here for a very interesting musical programme, which has received worldwide acclaim. Nelly Miricioiu, internationally-acclaimed soprano will give a recital with Maciej Pikulski, followed by an illustrated talk. The fine soprano Alexandra Reinprecht will adorn our stage immediately thereafter. It is also the time for preparation for SOI’s February Season.

With our vast variety of undertakings, membership at the NCPA gives you tremendous advantages at very nominal rates (– I do urge all of you to encourage your friends to support our endeavours). While there is a buzz about the NCPA which is heartening, there are still miles to go and visions to execute, as funds become available. Our advantage is the quality and quantity of our spaces and we owe it to our founding fathers to make the best possible use of these performing areas handed down to us.( Thank you for your patronage, and a very prosperous, healthy and artistically satisfying 2013 to all of you.)