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1.20 pm: I arrive flustered, having been given the run-around by an auto-wallah (rickshaw-driver) who said he knew where I needed to go but very clearly didn’t. A phone call to Arun Rozario gets me there (Catholic Club, Museum Road, Bangalore), hot and sweaty.

I recognise quite a few ‘old’ faces, from Bangalore, from Goa, and even farther afield. Everybody’s at lunch, so I sneak off to get a bite myself, passing our timpanist Suyesh on the way. A little chit-chat, and we both head back to join the others.

A group photo follows (quite a few, in fact. I feel tempted to say ‘Frommage!’).

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Then we all walk the short distance over to St. Euphrasia School, which is our rehearsal venue.

It is decided that the Indian contingent (the strings at any rate. I think the other sections went off elsewhere to rehearse) will rehearse jointly under the direction of Ashley Rego, my friend from Goa; a run-through of the major chunk of the programme: all of the Dvořák’s Symphony 9 ‘From the New World’, and the encore. What’s the encore piece, did I hear you ask, dear reader? Ah, that would be telling! Why not come to the concert at Chowdiah Hall on the 26th and we’ll play it for you!

I look at the viola score (did I mention I play viola? I used to be a violinist, but then  had a ‘Road-to-Damascus’ moment) , and I marvel at Dvořák’s brilliant writing. I’m not at all surprised that he was a violist too. He knew the instrument so well, its timbre, its place in the orchestral texture, the musical tapestry. Take our part away, and there’s a gaping hole in the music, like its very soul has been ripped out!

That said, there’s a lot of notes to be learnt, a lot of fingerings to be worked out, a lot of position shifts to be strategically planned, at least one VERY awkward page-turn, and a lot of the time the music is going hell-for-leather! I hope I do not disappoint you, Antonin!

We break around 5.30 pm, and have some leisure time before the ‘welcome’ dinner at 7.

Ashley and I have a long discussion on the taste of beer, and he describes it quite poetically.

It’s Tom’s (from the Canadian entourage) birthday, so there’s a surprise cake, and some motley singing, mainly from the Goan males (who else?), and everybody joins in. You’ll have to pardon my French, but I tried hard to join in when the Canadians began to sing, but could just hum along.

It looks like I’ll be able to brush up my French as well as my viola playing on this trip!

There are after-dinner speeches, of course. I missed the highlight, where apparently someone shook a leg on stage, but I was in time to hear Ms. Aruna Sunderlal from the Bangalore School of Music welcome the Canadians and the rest of us, and offer a bouquet to Barbara Smith, the orchestra manager. Barbara in turn paid glowing compliments to Arun Rozario for the hundreds of man-hours put in to make this project happen. You the MAN, Arun! 🙂

I promise you pictures tomorrow, dear reader! I’m going to have my inbox crammed full of them from various quarters, and I’ll be taking my trusty Lumix along as well.

Until then, bonne nuit!  Jusqu’à demain!

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