Back to all News

Five questions with Aditya Bhat

ANAM Soundbite: Aditya Bhat

As you walk through the stunning gardens and grounds of the Convent, the sounds of the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) musicians playing can often be heard drifting through the precinct. Next Friday 5 August will be no different, as percussionist Aditya Bhat performs his specially curated programme of pan-Asian music as part of ANAM's lunch time concert series.

We asked Aditya about his upcoming performance and why he is excited to share these particular pieces, which are so close to his heart.  

1. You’ve started your percussion training at a very young age. What interests you most about the percussion? 

Percussion is so exciting because there are just so many possibilities. When people imagine percussion, they often think drums and rhythm—which are thrilling, and what initially drew me in, but there’s so much more. First you hear the ethereal sound of a vibraphone being bowed, for example, and then, what if you try bowing a cymbal, a wine glass, or a cactus needle with a microphone clipped to it? (A bizarre sound indeed!) We percussionists are in the unique position of being able to discover new things every day; and ANAM, with its inspiring percussion teachers (who always encourage curiosity and exploration) is just the place to continue that.

2. Your Soundbite concert focusses on “Pan-Asian” works. Why did you choose these particular works? 

This repertoire is fascinating because of the many subtle ways in which it reflects the interactions between cultures. The composers draw on aspects of Western works, we well as the music of their home-countries—Cambodia, China, Korea, and Japan. Performing this music shows us what a rich world exists beyond the confines of what we call ‘classical music’. Engaging deeply with other cultures always tells us something about ourselves and our own culture, so I believe that playing this repertoire opens our eyes to other musical realms and enhances our engagement with music as a whole.

3. The works in your programme also explore themes from Buddhism. How does this element of religion and philosophy tie in with the Pan-Asian focus? 

When curating this concert, I felt it important to look beyond clumping some ‘Asian’ composers together and calling it a cohesive programme—since ‘Asian’ is really little more than a (Europeanmade) geographic descriptor, hence the Buddhist element; if one historical force can be considered as embracing all of what we call Asia, it has to be Buddhism. As Buddhism spread from India 2500 years ago, it mingled with other philosophical and spiritual systems, and birthed a breathtaking variety of schools-of-thought; these pieces reflect these ideas with stunning and unique sonic results!

4. What do you hope your audience takes away from this cross-cultural concert experience? 

Cross-cultural exchanges in music are as ubiquitous as they are in society as a whole. We often think of such exchanges as one-off, “In this particular piece, Debussy emulates the sound of the gamelan”, however music is more complicated than that. To call Pagh-Paan’s U-Mul as solely Western or Korean music misses the point. Euro-centrism is usually deemed as the kind of music that our society values, with the rest often falling by the wayside, labelled as artless imitations or static “traditions”, ripe for the plundering. Through this programme, I’m hoping to celebrate composers who blend musical cultures into genuinely new and exciting styles.

5. You are on your first year at ANAM, how has the create community of the Convent enriched this experience?

I can’t think of a more idyllic surrounding to spend time in than Abbotsford Convent. It sounds cliché, but being relatively ‘in nature’ (as far as that’s possible in the middle of the city!) really does work wonders, with the Birrarung just a stone’s throw away, plenty of greenery all around, and some marvellous old trees. (Rivers and trees are particularly fine sources of inspiration.) The other nice thing is that unlike a regular Conservatorium campus, where it’s non-stop music, there are all sorts of people around the Convent, and it’s refreshing to be able to see, for example, mothers interacting with their small children—and so remember your own childhood—while having a coffee!

ANAM Soundbite: Aditya Bhat  

Friday 5 August, 1pm Rosina Auditorium  

$5 or FREE for ANAMates

Book now