Rajhans Orchestra
Worldwide Orchestra 
of Flanders & India

The RAJHANS  ORCHESTRA 
is a  freelance chamber orchestra consisting of European and  Subcontinental  classical musicians 

In short
The Rajhans Orchestra is a unique project because of the merging of two different cultural music identities within one orchestra. With the creation of Rajhans orchestra, music and performers are merged in a most splendid way, its underlying technics enabling each musician to operate and interact from within his own cultural background and tradition.

 

 
Two distinctive groups
The ensemble has 2 specific sections:
Foundation instruments


kanjeera, pakhawaj,
tanpura, keyboards, cello, double bass...etc..

Melody instruments



sarod, karnatic violin, violin, flute, clarinet ..etc..


Signification of the name "Rajhans"

 

The name " Rajhans " in itself is already a symbiosis of two cultures:

" Raj " is an Indian name meaning: " king ", while

" Hans ", a Flemish and Indian name means: " Swan " (the swan is also connected with the history of our West-Flemish capital of Brugge). 

Raj + Hans equals to: " Rajhans " = " Royal Swan ",

the celestial vehicle of the Hindu supreme God Brahma.


What's in a orchestra?

When one speaks about "orchestra" You have to know that this actually means: a group of musicians unfurling themselves as one unity as one sound;  keeping in mind that in order to achieve this goal, the individuality of every member has to yield to team-spirit.In this team the leading role of the composer/conductor is very important because of the first-hand interaction between composer and performers.

This last point is important viewing the non-orchestra traditions of the Subcontinent.( obviously compared to European ensembles )   A careful selection of musicians and a profound briefing to involved musicians is likewise of crucial importance. 

A multi-cultural orchestra also implies unity in spoken language. When combining two different groups, both are equally important. 

There must be a mutual language enabling musicians to maintain social contact also outside the rehearsals/concerts, while it is equally of great significance that the project leader  should have a basic knowledge of his musicians mother-tongue ( languages as Hindi, Tamil, Bengali - European languages as Flemish, English, French, German ).

Do not forget I am not referring to jazz or popmusic but to music operating from a "score" and which can be repeated over the years exactly as it was written.


Rajhans music
The music for the Rajhans orchestra is composed by Hans Vermeersch in close co-operation with the involved musicians.The rules of raga tala and european music theory are closely observed and implied wherever necessary and/or possible.  One must not forget that the music of the Indian subcontinent is basically monodic with a supporting and interacting line of percussion , while European music is basically melodic, harmonic and contrapuntal with far less percussion interactions build in.  I try  to present a musical composition in which a Asian or Western musician can recognize him/herself,  making it much easier  to defend the score..   The reaction of a Asian or Western audience towards the music is also very important. It is far to easy to create music successfully for a Western public, and then facing a total disinterested Asian public or vice-versa.   

Carnatic-Hindusthani-Western

I started the orchestra-project in the Carnatic flavour, in order to present  India's Southern instruments which deserves far more attention. Basically everyone has heard of "tabla and sitar" but whenever mentioning a Southern instrument..... ignorance strikes. 

I decided to  compose a concerto for Veena  using carnatic raags and tala's.  This included  the use of instruments as mridangam, ghatam, kanjeera, veenu, karnatic violin. 

It was very pleasant to get information  by eminent musicians as Smti E. Gayathry, B.V. Raghavendra Rao, Chitti Babu (deceased 1996) and professor T.N. Krishnan.
The bass clarinet concerto ,composed already a few years earlier, was constructed with Hindusthani raga's and tala's, hence the including of tabla, dilruba and tarshehnai. For the start-up of this concerto I got information from Smti Sharan Rani and Mr. Rajendra Prasanna.  

The orchestral suite "Ramayana", based upon the famous Hindu epic presents all the orchestra's colors aligning with the story's episodes.

 

The beginning
In 1995 I had the blue prints ready of this multi-cultural orchestra and submitted the project to KLM's international contest "Bridging the World"; a contest about human achievements covering every aspect of society (arts, science etc.) and incorporating people from different parts of the globe. I was honored with a 2nd Prize, out of 12000 global projects !
In front of United Nations

 
This Prize enabled us to present our first concert ever for the United Nations in New York USA ( Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium ) on 6th of july 1995.  The concept of the Rajhans Orchestra proved to be a huge success.

In august 1995 INDIA, ( Madras, Bangalore, Mumbai and New Delhi) where the success of Rajhans was overwhelming !. October 1996 BELGIUM, (Knokke, Brussels, Ghent, Leuven, Ypres, Antwerp...)

October/november 1997 PAKISTAN ( Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi ) on the occasion of the celebrations of Pakistan's Golden Jubilee (organised by the Royal Belgian Embassy, The Ministry of the Flemish Community of Belgium and The Pakistan National Council of Arts ).

Pakistan-Karachi

February 2000 performance in the London Barbican Center together with Chandru Chandrashekhars "Strings of India" ensemble.  May 2000 onwards the project got a major breakthrough by the discovery of the music of Rabindranath Tagore ( 1861-1941 ) and Qazi Nazrul Islam ( 1899 - 1976 )

Equally important was the performing  of Western "India related" music from the end of the 18th century till present day. In 2001 we presented for the first time music around the "General and Imperial Ostend East India Company" and in specific a concert around the sailing of the eastindiaman St-Carolus under captain Cayphas
( Sailed from Ostend on 10th February 1724 and sank in the river Hoogly on 4th August 1724 )
In 2002 we joined the celerations around the Dutch "Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie" and a major concert in the Ostend Peter & Paul cathedral with music around the Ostend East India Company.