Newark: On May 13, the New Jersey Symphony became one of the first orchestras in the United States to perform an entire concert dedicated to the South Asian genre of Bollywood this past weekend at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Led by conductor Vinay Parameswaran, the Symphony collaborated with renowned South Asian musicians, including sitar player Indrajit Roy-Chowdhury, and commissioned several pieces for the performance fusing traditional Indian music with Western orchestration, including new arrangements by award-winning pianist, composer, and journalist Charu Suri.
The performance included engaging dance routines and vocal accompaniments by Indian dance and music students from Kulture Kool, which showcased the vibrant and intricate movements of Bollywood choreography.
“This concert was a dream come true for me,” says Archana Athalye, Director of Kulture Kool and host of this performance. “My effort in the U.S. through culture has always been community engagement”, Archana said. “I think this is the first opportunity that we have gone mainstream in a way that has not happened before.”
Before the performance, patrons were able to participate in South Asian cultural traditions including a kulfi station, henna art, dhol music and food trucks serving Indian food. Families enjoyed delicious food and joined in dancing along with the dhol music, creating a festive feel even before the concert began.
Continuing in their partnership, the Chamber Players of the New Jersey Symphony will be presenting Music of Bollywood with Kulture Kool on July 27 as part of the free summer concert series in Hamilton Park.
More information on the upcoming free summer concert njsymphony.org/events/detail/
The Emmy and Grammy Award-winning New Jersey Symphony, celebrating its Centennial Season in 2022–23, is redefining what it means to be a nationally leading, relevant orchestra in the 21st century. Since 2021, Music Director Xian Zhang has worked together with composer, violinist, educator and social-justice advocate Daniel Bernard Roumain, the orchestra’s resident artistic catalyst, to offer programming that connects with diverse communities in Newark and throughout New Jersey.