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GTCYS Orchestra performs world premiere of commissioned piece by Aryaman Manish Joshi

What led to Concert Orchestra’s upcoming world premiere of Aryaman Manish Joshi’s Chandryaan? Two crucial components: GTCYS’ initiative to uplift contemporary composers of color by commissioning new pieces and our own Jack Reynertson sitting in the audience at a St. Olaf Band concert in fall 2021! 

Raised in India, Aryaman started playing keyboard at age 10 and formally started acoustic piano lessons at age 13. Hoping to enroll in college in America and study music alongside mathematics, Aryaman applied and was accepted into St. Olaf College. Aryaman thought focusing on composing might give him a unique opportunity to shine amongst the other students who were talented performers, and he applied for an opportunity to compose a piece for the St. Olaf Band. While Aryaman was self-taught in composition and wasn’t familiar with all the instruments, he was up to the task! Aryaman wrote “कालचक्र The Wheel of Time” as a reflection on the impact and emotion of the Covid-19 crisis in India. The St. Olaf Band premiered the piece in October 2021 on their Midwest Tour (check it out on YouTube). The dynamic piece fascinated audience members, which happened to include GTCYS Concert Orchestra conductor (and St. Olaf alum) Jack Reynertson.  

With GTCYS’ goal to introduce students to new repertoire by modern composers of color in mind, Jack struck up a conversation with Aryaman about writing a new piece specifically for Concert Orchestra! This piece is inspired by India’s race to the moon and features several Northern Indian elements, including a traditional time signature, rhythms, and a tabla, an Indian percussion instrument played by tabla master Dr. A. Pavan. On learning a non-Western piece, conductor Jack Reynertson says, “Our biggest challenge is finding the right approach to style. We need to tailor our approach to rhythm and color in a very different way than we would with a composer like Mozart. The tabla has a rich and varied pallet of sound, and Aryaman often asks us to imitate the sound and tone of the drums. The string players especially are learning to make some pretty significant adjustments to their playing style. This is very conversational music, and much of the time the orchestra and soloist seem to imitate each other.” 

To prepare, students have two rehearsals this month with tabla master Dr. A. Pavan, a local tabla player and teacher who shared his skills at GTCYS’ winter retreats earlier this season. Conductor Jack Reynertson shares, “Many students in Concert Orchestra had never heard the tabla before our meeting with Pavan. I hope the students leave this experience with a renewed sense of curiosity about music from other cultures, and a heightened respect for musical styles outside of the symphonic world.” Reflecting on the students’ work, Aryaman also shares, “What GTCYS is doing is nothing short of revolutionary in my opinion. Band is a newer art form, you can see a lot of diversity in it. But I absolutely do not see that with orchestra at all. Orchestra is so insular and it is so Western in a way that, since I don’t come from a Western background, it is always alienating to me.” 

Aryaman believes that the students are up to the challenge of learning new things and have shown incredible talent for exploring new musical traditions! For students who are familiar with Indian music, they see their passions and background represented alongside traditional Western music, to be enjoyed and respected by their peers.  

Join us at Southview Middle School in Edina (new venue!) for this free and open to the public concert on April 21 to experience the magic yourself! We are so proud of our students and their work towards the upcoming premiere. GTCYS is very grateful for the musical connections that help create new works and new experiences for our young musicians, and to our community of donors who helps make this work possible! 

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