Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Dr Ashley Williams: An Enigma of an Artiste’s Life

Ashley1Destiny Muted is a Music Video Single is set to be launched on the International Market soon.  The Music Video is dedicated to the two people who have been an inspiration to Dr Ashley Williams in his music journey. His late father the Maestro  J T William Joseph who could move from one instrument to the other and from the Classics to Jazz and pop with ease. And  to the National Artiste of the Philippines Dr Francisco F Feliciano who was also his composition and conducting professor.
Dr Ashley Williams is an internationally acclaimed Orchestra Conductor and soloist based in Bangalore where he also heads the William Joseph International Academy for Performing Arts and the Indian  National Symphony Orchestra.
City Kemp brings out Dr Ashley Williams journey with the Sitar.

Dr Ashely Williams
Dr Ashley Williams

In 1988 we the Asian Chorale was traveling on a two month concert of Sweden – packing tons of Asian Instruments for the tour. Just as we were about to leave, Dr Feliciano, the director of the Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music suddenly looks at me as says your from India, we are singing some Indian Songs – are you carrying an Indian Instrument.
Bewildered I look at him and say a BIG NO. He tells me there is a Sitar to carry it along – still confused that I did not even know how to tune the Sitar, leave alone know how many strings it had, I knew I had no choice. The very stern Dr Feliciano summons the librarian to pull out all the books we had on the Sitar. Ouch was my thought, anyway armed with these books I had long flights to take and longer stop overs at the airport in Bangkok and Denmark.
Our first concert was scheduled for the day we arrived in Sweden, I had barely an hour to come to terms to playing this mighty and great instrument. To my shock we had Dr Feliciano at our first concert.
Those were great days with the Asian Chorale who was also under the able baton of another Filipino Great and National Artist of the Philippines- the very Andrea O Veneracion
After a hectic concert tour Dr Feliciano appointed the 6 foot 5 inches Joey Valenciano a personal student of Pandit Ravi Shankar to be my Sitar teacher. Thus started my musical journey on the Sitar on which I have also penned down my thesis on the Origins of the Sitar.
Feliciano’s death took me by shock or should I say by storm bringing out the Composer back in me. I credit most of my conducting and composition skills to him. One cannot forget the 7 am composition class and FFF throwing our compositions in the bin.
Life offers us so many experiences to enrich ourselves and we are blessed if we also can use an expressive medium to dovetail thoughts and emotions. the anger… the frustration…. the despair resound. Destiny Muted – a three pronged composition based on life’s experiences. The highs and lows faced by the musician and artiste in today’s world.ashley2
The beautiful tone of the Sitar and its haunting melodies are like the beauty of nature. Picking up the Sitar after almost 27 years has taught me to understand the colour of tonality better and when combined with the ancient and modern the east and west, the music encompasses the beauty and fury of nature.
The composition uses the idiom of Classical Music interspersed with very subtle trance and techno rhythms, which combines these three distinct features, but is a fusion of thoughts but not fusion music.
The use of the techno keyboards is something that has always baffled me as a musician, so simple yet so intense in nature.
The ethereal sound of the grand piano brings out the natural beauty of music and gives the composition a very earthy feel
The Protagonist of this piece….seeks inner peace… possibly asking so many questions of life and still on a search to find a deeper purpose using a creative medium in music which so easily touches on his vulnerability and speaks a language which communicates the depth of his heart and soul. The entire video and music recording has been done totally live. Due to be launched on the International Music Video Circuit one can get a sneek peek on youtube – Destiny Muted- Live, Ashley Williams

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