Tag Archives: Beethoven

The Maulbronn Musical Miracle





Saturday, the 5th of March 2011, the Nathaniel School of Music conducted a choir workshop at the All Saints’ Church, Bangalore. The workshop was conducted by the members of the Maulbronn Seminar Choir , Germany, led by world renowned conductor, Jürgen Budday.

Jürgen Budday conducts three different choirs and has been a music instructor for 32 years in the Maulbronn Seminar, Germany. Twenty five students of his sixty two members of the choir accompanied him here, where he spoke to the audience on the importance of vocal techniques and voice toning exercises.

German Music has always been an inspiration for pioneering music from the baroque period through the classical era with legends like Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and Mozart. Classic operas, chorales and oratorios were heavily patronized and popularized by orchestras, choirs and conductors of bygone Germany. Therefore watching this choir as their four-part harmonies transported us into their world was the most delightful experience.

Even more wonderful was the fact that this choir comprised of prodigious high school-goers who not only held music scores but could read them too! Each of them was trained in either vocal or instrumental music apart from their regular syllabus at the Seminar. The finesse and brilliance of the music-making here is breathtaking. It is a high school just like any other except, here every 10th and 11th grade student is a part of this spectacular choir. Students are encouraged and trained in the genre of music that they choose to pursue. From traditional oratorios, that the children swear to uphold, to modern metal, one could find a patron of almost every kind of music in that bunch of enthusiasts. Yorick Fischer, one of the bass singers with the choir went on to say, “A very good thing about Maulbronn is that you can have all kinds of music at one place. For instance, I am a brutal death metal fan and a drummer and at Maulbronn, I can take professional growling lessons, professional screaming lessons. So one is not restricted to take up choral music alone.

The discipline and passion of every singer and the 14-year old Ruediger Garhoefer who accompanied them on the piano truly had us all smiling as they sang the lovely ‘Canon‘ and their own rendition of a song called ‘Sing Acapella’. Awestruck, we asked the conductor about their practice schedules to which he replied, “We meet regularly once a week. But if a performance is on the cards, then we have intensive practice sessions for 3 full days. At Maulbronn, the music never ceases. You will find students singing all around the school in their free time.

Our desire to be able to sing like that with them was fulfilled only moments later, when after engaging in a couple of odd looking exercises, the crowd discovered their voices and sang, “doo ba doo doo sing acapella” with the choir. The youngest of them all, the 14 year old pianist, took a little session on piano playing techniques following which a young violinist too educated us on his intriguing instrument. He went on to perform a classic violin piece that everyone was delighted to witness.

The youngsters exhibited their skills at not only singing but also in dancing later that evening, as they spiritedly attempted to learn a few techniques of Indian Classical dance from the troupe of classical dancers who performed for them. A casual evening of cultural mixing like no other, the joy, acceptance and appreciation were not lacking on either side, while my uplifted mind lay wrapped in wonder of the Miracle of Music that binds us all together even in this World.


The Luke Kenny Mojo Jukebox at The Blue Frog





I love the Blues. I’ve been very recently, completely immersing my self in regular doses of Buddy Guy, SRV, Hendrix and Phil Sayce. So to say I was looking forward to watching the musicians in The Luke Kenny Mojo Jukebox really is an understatement.

Having already had a long day, I was eager to get to my favorite live music venue, The Blue Frog and sit back and soak in some long bends and cold brews. I managed to convince my famous Mallu friend Sujit to accompany me and so we caught a slow train from Malad station, party packs in our bags.

We entered just as the band was starting up. I quickly spied around and saw several usual suspects around the bar and quite a sizeable crowd. Denzil Mathais was on alone showing off his super sounding custom hollowbody guitar, wailing out some warm fuzz which suspiciously sounded like Beethoven’s Symphony No.5. Vinayak Pol and Chirayu Wedekar on drums and bass joined him to start off the song with a bang which turned out to be ‘Roll over Beethoven’. Luke walked out next to a warm welcome and danced the song out. It was a bit funny to see the whole band with scarves on; guess it was some kinda style statement that I don’t get.

After a couple of songs and a Willie Nixon cover, Luke eloquently invited his first guest out, Mahesh Naidu on blues harp, while giving us a serious face and a small history on the next song. The first few notes out of the harp assured me that we were finally getting down to business and doing a real blues number. Muddy Waters’ ‘Hootchie Cootchie Man’ tumbled out and had the crowd grooving immediately. The harp solo was off time for some reason, but the guitar solo really made up with long sweet bends and super vibrato by Denzil. Mahesh just didn’t find his groove as he spat out some odd sounding notes during the next song on the steel flute. I don’t remember what song it was but it didn’t go well, Luke’s dancing didn’t help much.

Next up was Shilpa Rao and I was really hoping the bar would now shift upwards from the ground. She looked a little nervous to begin with but when she started singing she displayed undeniable power there. ‘Nature boy’ was the first song I think, but the impressive singing came only in the next song which was an original. ‘Romeo was in love with me’ is a cool ditty although the solo interludes were basically just Denzil bailing them out. Nice work by the band.

The next song had Luke back on vocals for a nice cover of Dire Straits’ ‘Money for Nothing’ although it still didn’t qualify as blues. I saw a couple of women jiving in front and they stole my attention. Luke decided to not care about pitching anymore in this song.

The funk version of Queen’s ‘Stone Cold Crazy’ was marred by a little sloppy bass playing by the young Chirayu Wedekar and completely off key vocals. The ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ line that Denzil injected a couple of times really didn’t work. Nice tone in the guitar solo though. ‘Baby you can drive my Car’ was dismal. Tight drumming but ironically the only song about driving that night just crashed and died.

Next up was Vasuda Sharma and her Loop station. Nifty device and she managed really well creating a whole section of percussion and backing vocals in all her songs which got the crowd clapping along. Although she had pitch perfect vocals, they were a bit uninspiring. All songs had the loop station build up but she apparently decided that passing off covers of folk and country songs as the blues were good enough as long as she sang some blues notes at the end. I must mention that Neil Gomes who joined her later on ‘These boots were made for walking’ has improved a lot on the violin. The Sax playing was not upto the same mark though. The version of ‘Roadhouse Blues’ really made me sad. They ended with a shoo-be-do version of ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ but I guess I was alone in my opinion because the end of her set brought on loud applause from everyone else. My friend Sujit remarked how she reminded him of singers in Goan restaurants with minus one tracks.

The next set saw Trumpet player Paul Rodrigues on a killer version of Prince’s ‘Kiss’. Great wah tone on the guitar, nice vibrato on the long trumpet notes. Tight song. Luke’s next offering was an original that made me wonder if I was fooled into thinking this was a blues gig. It was more of a soft rock song where he sang about how he always confides in his feelings.

I was really not looking forward to Sunidhi Chauhan. I mean anytime you hear a Hindi playback singer attempting blues is bound to make you gag. But boy did she prove me wrong! She looked HOT and she sang with amazing power, soul and feel. ‘Cry me a river’ was a lovely jazz blues number with a nice time signature change inserted a couple of times. It finally seemed like the gig was warming up. Then she blew the roof of the place with Dhruv Ghanekar joining the band onstage for the best performance of the evening. Janis Joplin’s ‘Piece of my heart’ was a great version that displayed some lusty and on purpose off time vocals and super guitar work by Dhruv.

Dhruv then stepped upto the mic to sing a Gary Moore classic, ‘Still got the blues’. I had never heard him sing before but that’s just as well as his singing was nothing to write home about, sounded like he had a bit of a cold maybe. The guitar tone had a nice delay wailing after his solos. Listening to him was a treat until he suddenly started shredding all over the place.

Luke was back after Dhruv exited the stage with a chunky riffed original called ‘Hard Loving Woman’. Very Deep Purple sounding and the band was tight. Great drumming by Vinayak. The last song of the night was Should I stay or should I go,’ a cover of The Clash’s punk anthem. The song had decent vocals and a killer solo courtesy of Dhruv who joined the band again for the last song of the night. Highlight of the song was the conversation between Denzil and Dhruv’s guitar. Denzil managed to more than hold his own displaying for the first time that blues band leader mentality, easily conducting the band as they jammed the song out.

All in all it was a disappointing night of music only because I felt we were served small portions of what was promised as the main course. The musicians on stage were all great and Luke’s band is pretty entertaining. I had earlier asked Rishu Singh whether Luke was a good singer and he mentioned that he has his good and bad nights. I hope this was a bad one.


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Howard Pereira

Howard is a guitarist with Mumbai based bands, Dischordian and Overhung. His other interests include drinking, comic books and occasional writing.