As the audience quieted and nine young men and women got on to the traditionally (Indian) decorated stage, trying to fix a minor technical glitch with the complex setup of myriad instruments, the St Johns auditorium had already become the scene of anticipation. Would the 150 people strong audience have their Saturday evening made worth? Would The Fusion Project, an interesting new Indo-Classical cum Western fusion initiative simply remain ‘interesting’ or would it show the promise of a potential hit?
I must confess my slight embarrassment in even raising this slim doubt about them after their first performance- a mix of the classic Indian bhajan (prayer) “Ishwar allah tero naam” and “I see fire” (by Ed Sheeran). The wildly talented Dhruv Sarma and Krishnaprasad K.V. could vocalize extremely complex swaras (notes) whilst simultaneously striking a chord in the audience’s heart. Rushil Ranjan, the (informal) leader of this Project did equal justice to ‘I see fire’ with his deep, mesmerizing voice and insane guitar skills, accompanied by talented bassist Joshua Rigal. Another very notable combination was between a Carnatic song and Imagine (by Lennon, who I suspect would have been greatly pleased after hearing this). Rushil dedicated this song to his mother (also present) without whom he wouldn’t have become a musician. Special mention to Amanda Coleman, the first female vocalist that evening, for the harmony with Dhruv whilst playing the Keyboard and with the Veena providing background music; it was a treat. The team then announced they would like to perform the next one, a song written by Dhruv, just as if they were “jamming in their bedroom”. Few things can make one truly happy especially at the brink of 4th week in Oxford and I must admit that the infectious smiles on each member’s face whilst performing this one was surely one of those. Flutist Praveen Prathapan, Ben Patel on the clarinet and Janan Sathiendran on the tabla get all the credit for their flawless performance for this one. The credits of course aren’t complete without acknowledging Chris Howland on the Cello and Vivekka Nagendran with the keyboard. Among several others, Hello (Adele) and Halleluiah were super hits with the audience.
As an engineer, I often hear about incredibly potent startups/spin-offs from Oxford but rarely about initiatives like The Fusion Project which combine creativity, talent and courage to create something amazing. In a brief chat with Rushil Ranjan, I learnt that The Fusion Project will hopefully soon begin gigs in London. Already with a 10,000 plus following on the internet this incredibly talented group has pointed its trajectory towards the stars. For those aspiring to learn Indian classical music during term time, consider joining The Oxford Indian Classical Arts Society and those who wish to be a part of The Fusion Project story, good news-they are looking for fresh talent. Attending their gig also means you can download some of their music with a code you will be given. The Fusion Project is going to be big-watch out for them.