Elements as varied as Gospel music and Hindu incantations came together amidst sprawling terrain and thick trees under an old bungalow called the Hyder Manzil, belonging to a gracious Nawab Mir Moussam Hussain of Hyderabad. All this to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Alliance Francaise. That speaks a lot about the acknowledgement of and, often, the encouragement by this institute of the local arts scene.
For the select gathering of Indians and foreigners, three musicians - Aruna Sairam, Dominique Vellard and Anne Marie Vellard - seated themselves under a tree and on an elevated platform. The venture taken up by the trio was far from the usual - they had a 'dialogue'! And Nature, too, claimed participation in this evening's proceedings - the warmth of the vocals soon cut through the cold winter evening.
Aruna, a classical Carnatic vocalist, did painstaking research of two religious music styles and juxtaposed them in a single performance. Likewise, Dominique's Gospel music (of Cathedral 12th and 13th century tradition, another of Ceria tradition, etc.) was re-interpreted in the Carnatic musical tradition by Aruna. Dominique's echoing songs, most of them in Italian and giving form to the 'vision from heaven' and the 'genealogy of Christ', in octaves, was a transcendental experience.
The balance was soon restored by the ritual Indian temple chanting by Aruna. Here, the revered melodies of Carnatic music (like raga Hemavati, Punnagavarali, etc.) which carry similar tenors, as also the songs eulogizing the Virgin Mary were put alongside the slokas, in admiration of the Mother Goddess, Shakti.
On the whole, it was an evening of music, tradition and cultures. Addressing the evening, the director of Alliance Francaise, Dr Pagliano, invited the gathering for a grand feast of French-Mughlai food to culminate the celebrations.