At 3 pm, the children are all ready to get back to their respective chairs and rest their violins on their shoulders as they begin the second round of their daily rehearsal at a hall in Galaxy Public School.
Their instructor — the choirmaster — gently raises his hands and the children take this cue to draw their bows to the strings. It only takes a moment for avid listeners of Nepali songs to realize that the tune that fills the rehearsal hall belongs to “Mera sabai raat” sung by Narayan Gopal.
“This is exactly what our aim is – to introduce and initiate children and young generation to the Nepali music and songs of the past, and to the musical legends such as Amber Gurung, Gopal Yonjan, Narayan Gopal, Nati Kaji, Tara Devi, Aavash and many other like them, as well as to give them a chance to perform in front of a large audience since this gives them a lot of encouragement,” says Raj Kumar Shrestha, Director and conductor of the Annapurna Chamber Orchestra, which is organizing “Songs of the Soil Orchestra concert” at the Rastriya Nacchghar, Jamal on April 14 which is the Nepali New Year’s day.
At this concert open to the public for free, the junior and senior groups are performing orchestrated arrangements of classic Nepali patriotic songs. Dozens of students from over a dozen schools in the Kathmandu Valley including Mount View Boarding School, Kathmandu Pragya Kunja, Birendra Sainik School, Rato Bangala, Kasthamandap School and SOS Hermann Gmeiner School, among others, are rehearsing to perform at the concert.
In addition to sensitizing children and youngsters to the tunes of old Nepali music, the concert is being organized with a host of other objectives aimed at encouraging children and promoting, archiving and preserving Nepali music in notation form.
“Even today, orchestra is not a known form of musical performance in Nepal, and one reason we are performing is to promote this, in addition to initiating and encouraging young children and youths to Nepali music. Only through orchestra can we take Nepali music to the outside world,” says Shrestha, who was among a few students to be taught violin by veteran musician Amber Gurung.
Sudhakar Wasti, who is also a student of Shrestha and one of the founders of the Annapurna Chamber Orchestra, says that the concert can generate audience’s interest by showing them that Western instruments can also be used to perform Nepali music.
“This could draw people’s interest towards orchestral music and especially seeing children perform at the concert can encourage more parents to motivate their children to learn and participate in music,” states Wasti, who is also one of the trainers training students for the past three months for the concert.
He further says that the composing for the concert also leads to other important achievements for Nepali music.
“Firstly, the entire process of composing for the orchestral performance enables the archiving of the music. Secondly, since the music needs to be converted into notations for orchestral performance, this preserves Nepali music for generations to come, for time immemorial. Any musician, anywhere in the globe will be able to play the music or song once they see the notations,” he says.
In addition to Wasti, Raj Kumar Shrestha, Sudhakar Wasti, Yogesh Dagoriya, Narendra Dev Lama, Bal Gopal Maharjan are other trainers.
At the concert, the junior and the senior groups will be playing different national as well international tunes including ‘Sun gun kasari’, ‘Lekaka hami ketaketi’, ‘Pani paryo asina jharyo’, ‘Sugauli sandhi’, ‘Mera sabai raat’, ‘Desh le ragat mage’, ‘Ma marepani mero desh bachi rahos’ and ‘He aama’, among others.
Jayadev Krishna Shrestha, Jaydev Krishna Shrestha of the Taleju Dhankumari Kosh, the program’s sponsor as well as its manager, says that the concert will also have participants from Norway, Australia, India.
“We’ve been organizing this concern since 2013/14,” he says. “We hope that this year’s concert too will help raise awareness about and promote orchestra in Nepal, encourage children and their parents.”
The organizer Annapurna Chamber Orchestra was founded with the objective to promote orchestra in Nepal by training children and youngsters and creating platforms for orchestral performances.