December is always a busy time in Goa, and it was especially so for us at Child’s Play India Foundation.

In late November, we had a visit from the respected violin pedagogue Radovan Lorković. Maestro Lorković was intrigued by what he had heard and read about us online and decided to make his first trip to Asia at the age of 81, just to see it all for himself and to work with our children and teachers for five weeks. He has an almost sacred pedagogical lineage, having studied in his youth under Max Rostal (1905-1991) who in turn was the pupil of the great Carl Flesch (1873-1944).

He was extremely impressed by our children, and the young musicians and teachers we work with. “The young children I worked with here are extremely intelligent and willing to learn. It is a culture of the heart that is dominating the whole context, the whole atmosphere, between people here.”

Lorković also inaugurated the Vere da Silva lecture series on music at the Casa da Moeda, a heritage home that once housed the Royal Mint of Portuguese India in the 1800s. His three lectures were well-received. The first lecture shed light on the history of the violin in classical music before discussing the Carl Flesch school of violin pedagogy and performance in comparison with Otakar Ševčik, the modifications made by Rostal and finally his own rationale for holding the violin and bow. The second lecture dwelt on the solo violin works of Johann Sebastian Bach, with Lorković playing excerpts of each movement of the six compositions (3 Sonatas and 3 Partitas) to illustrate his points. He discussed in some detail the analytical studies by musicologist Prof. Dr. Helga Thoene of these works and the interesting insights and symbolism encrypted in the music. The last lecture examined the violin repertoire from the Romantic period, with particular reference to the works of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms and Mendelssohn.

Child’s Play has also been fortunate to have a volunteer Clare Raybould, Suzuki violin teacher from England working with us. She has fifteen years’ experience teaching violin, and has played in several British orchestras, including the Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic and the Northern Sinfonia. In the weeks that she has been here, she has worked really hard with our fresh batch of violin kids, some as young as six and seven, and also taught our two violin teachers how to work with young children. She has also had sessions with other violin teachers from the wider community.

Our ensemble Camerata Child’s Play India had a busy concert schedule, with our first ever Christmas concert at our ‘home’, Caritas at Santa Inez, Panjim and two more at a Christmas market in Sangolda. Clare Raybould helped us a lot in rehearsing the ensemble, in matters of technique and stylistic interpretation and playing.

The performances of our Child’s Play recorder kids playing the Jana Gana Mana, and children’s chorus singing Christmas carols and playing them on the violin brought tears to the eyes of our audiences and gave the public a first-hand idea of the results of our work over the years. We were also delighted to be invited to perform at the Museum of Christian Art, a magnificent building housed within the precincts of the sixteenth-century Santa Monica convent in the World Heritage city of Old Goa. The high tapering ceiling, and the reflective walls and floor made it an apt setting for a chamber ensemble performance. And playing Arcangelo Corelli’s ‘Christmas’ concerto (Concerto Grosso Opus 6, number 8), under the watchful gaze of a beautiful larger-than-life statue of the Madonna and Child in the museum was an almost religious experience.

Goa is blessed with scores of churches, chapels, palaces, heritage homes and forts dotted across its landscape that could be transformed into wonderful venues for classical music concerts. This is something that we need to actively look at. I was privileged to be invited by globally acclaimed Bombay-origin soprano (and a daughter of Goa) Patricia Rozario to a fantastic concert at Reis Magos fort, across the river Mandovi from Goa’s capital city Panjim. She shared the stage with two rising young vocalists of Goan origin on the international stage Joanne Marie de Mello and Oscar Castellino, accompanied by Mark Troop at the piano. The programme featured operatic arias, duets and the famous ‘Soave si il vento’ from Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte and ended on a light note with a pair of comic songs (‘The Ostrich’ and ‘The Gnu’) by Flanders and Swann. One hopes that more and more such historic sites also become Goa’s future concert halls!