Published: 08th November 2017
Right up her alley: Violinist Ritu Gopal's latest collaboration 21 Nocturne Alley will have you sit up and take notice
Ritu Gopal does play the violin, but music goes above and beyond for her as she also believes in and is studying music therapy
A natural connection, a mutual interest in music education and a passion for the cause of women's rights. That's what it took to convince violinist Ritu Gopal and pianist Divina Bajpai to collaborate and start 21 Nocturne Alley, the label under which the duo will be touring across the country, starting next month. "Till then we plan to upload performance videos on our eponymous Facebook page," informs Ritu Gopal, whom we had the pleasure of talking to. Their debut video, released just last month, featured them performing an instrumental mash-up of Can't Help Falling in Love and Unchained Melody. Pop and contemporary music are their genres of interest with future plans of composing as well, informs Gopal.
Two together: Ritu Gopal (Right) with her partner in crime, Divina Bajpai (Left)
Also on the agenda is the need to orient their music towards the cause of women's rights, which the duo is unanimously passionate about, because, "we want our music to not just be about us, but also about something that is relevant to society," says Gopal. And though technology has brought them closer, as is the case for most of the world, they make sure that they meet once a month either in Delhi, where Bajpai lives, Hyderabad, where Gopal is from, or any other place that's convenient for the two. Gopal is also committed to Urjaa Duo which is her Western Classical collaboration with Mitali Saraf, a pianist from Mumbai. They will be debuting next month and playing in Goa, Coonoor and Ooty.
Toss and tour: Gopal has been performing with the Indian National Youth Orchestra and Chorus since 2011 in India and Vienna through the Indian Council for Cultural Relations
But Gopal feels that the music scene in Hyderabad has evolved considerably, especially since her formative years learning from Sanjay Samuel and John Marthand, after which she had to hunt for music teachers. Now, due to the acceptance of music as a career and of course, e-learning, there has been a significant hike in the number of music teachers, so much so that some of her friends, who graduated from music schools abroad and who are still there, want to return to the city.
In the flow: Ritu Gopal during one of her performances
"In places like Delhi and Mumbai, there is so much happening already. Hyderabad has the scope, hence it is more attractive," she explains. But Gopal feels that there is another aspect that needs to be improved, and that is the mentality that film music is the cat's whiskers, and the fact that the city needs more performance avenues. "We have a happening nightlife where musicians perform at cafes and the like, but we need to go beyond that," she emphasises.
Greater good: She has worked with an NGO in Bengaluru which was a music therapy initiative for children with disabilities, especially autism
But Gopal's story is incomplete if we don't mention the PhD she is pursuing in musical education and autism from TISS, a cause she has been working for academically, voluntarily and even professionally. She has spent time in rural Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and other places as part of her research. “Working for this cause has really helped me look at music in a different way and changed the way I perceive music itself," she says, as she continues to carry both the cause and her music close to her heart.
Check them out here facebook.com/