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Orchestra Flown to India by Special Request to Play at Celebrity-Packed 'Mega-Weddings'

Originally published 19 February 2004

100 members of the University of Warwick Symphony Orchestra were flown to Lucknow in India last week, following a request from a top Indian businessman to perform at the mega-weddings of the two sons of Sahara business group chief Subrata Roy.

The orchestra performed at both weddings, playing on a specially constructed revolving stage placed at the centre of Mr Roy’s 350 acre estate. They entertained the 30,000 guests who included India’s top politicians and Bollywood’s elite, as well as members of the international business community and international sports stars, including tennis ace Boris Becker and Olympic track star Michael Johnson. Mr Vajpayee, India’s Prime Minister, requested an impromtu performance of a piece generally acknowledged to be India’s unofficial national anthem – Saare Jahan.

The University of Warwick Symphony Orchestra was approached just 3 weeks before the weddings, and asked to provide a variety of pieces ranging from Western classical music through to specially arranged symphonic versions of some of Bollywood’s biggest hits.

Tim Snowball, President of the University of Warwick Symphony Orchestra, said: “The orchestra immediately seized the opportunity, then got down to the tasks of organising emergency immunisations, malaria tablets and the hire of percussion and double bass flight cases to transport the 100 players and 140 instruments, ot to Lucknow."

"When the orchestra realised that the trip to India was a reality they attended a weekend of emergency rehearsals. The orchestra then accompanied Bollywood film legend Sapna, who was visiting as a part of the Indian party, on the journey. The wedding was possibly the largest party India has ever seen, and was described as the wedding of the century.”

The orchestra was so impressive that Mr Roy has already invited the 100-strong team to return to India, and discussions are underway concerning a recording of the Bollywood arrangements – a musical first. Wedding guests have also expressed an interest in having the orchestra play at future events.

The orchestra’ next concert is on 10th March in the Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre. Alongside the programme of Vaughan Williams’ 5th Symphony and Hadyn’s Mass in Time of War they will present works performed in India, including Holst’s Mars from The Planets Suite and Indian pieces. Following the performance they will tour Poland.

For more information contact:
Charlotte Hunt,
Music Centre,
University of Warwick
Tel: 024 7652 3799
Mobile: 07791 721 394

Tim Snowball,
President of the University of Warwick Symphony Orchestra,
Mobile: 07817 779 471.

The performance on the 10th March 2004 starts at 8pm and tickets are available from Warwick Arts Centre box office (024 7652 4524 or The University of Warwick Symphony Orchestra is mainly made up of students and staff from the university.