KATHMANDU: No doubt that music is a cauldron where so many genres exist. There are a few genres that you know of while some are not popular and many are unexplored. Different sections of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments put together, form an orchestra. Very few people know that this kind of music is played in Nepal. Thanks to the Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force (APF) that have been playing this kind of Western music for many years.
Orchestra is an ensemble of string sections — violin, second violin, viola, cello; woodwind section — piccolo flute, B-flat clarinet, saxophone; brass section — horns, B-flat trumpet, B-flat cornet and percussion section — bass drums, timpani, side drums, cymbals.
And following in the footsteps of other countries, the Nepal Army band began performing orchestra music.
“When Junga Bahadur Rana paid a visit to England, he saw what was called orchestra there, which he brought to Nepal. Then different bands were formed in the group of 12-15 in each seven to eight barracks which later merged to form a Nepal Army Band in 1954,” shares Lt Colonel Amul Karkidhali, Director of Music, Nepal Army Band.
He has done three years course on band master from Pakistan and has 200 musicians in his orchestra.
On the other hand, stepping ahead from just being a marching and marriage band, Nepal Police’s band developed into an orchestra in 1995. They have now about 85 band members though “not highly professional”, states Rajendra Gurung, SP, Principal Director of Nepal Police School Of Music. And “they join the police force to become police officers first and later become musicians,” as per Gurung.
Meanwhile, the youngest to have included orchestra music in their force is AFP, in 2001. Mixing Eastern and Western music, a group of 13 members —six women and seven men play orchestra music, says SSP Shailendra Khanal, spokesperson for APF. They have included folk instruments to their music.
Orchestra concerts are hardly put on stage for everyone to enjoy as these bands mostly play during their annual functions and festivals.
Karkidhali proudly shares that they had performed a semi-orchestra for Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth in 1954. In addition to such events, they also play for different embassies in Nepal.
He adds they are “an orchestra band but not an symphony orchestra as we don’t have a string section. But we are training on the string section”. And they didn’t become an orchestra band just like that. They went through lots of training and practice in Nepal and abroad.
Karkidhali believes that during training “one seeks for the best results upfront but one needs to have patience”.
Developing towards symphonic orchestra band, Nepal Police has done concerts outside also besides the regular activities of their organisation.
“There were around 200 people in the first concert that we had in 2001,” recalls Gurung sharing that in their second concert they had more people. After going through police training and music education, one can become a part of the band. And Gurung feels, “I train them more than it is required.”
APF is not an exception where training is concerned.
Together with interest, one needs to have good physical abilities required for a particular instrument and pick up knowledge to enroll in a band.
Though they are people dedicated to protect and fight, these musicians are trained to perfection that “they can play any piece of music just by reading the notations”. And different forms of orchestra are
Music and Forces? Not a match and one might wonder why forces who are dedicated to security and warfare of the country, would make music an integral part of them.
Khanal answers, “In the reveille and retreat, it is bigul, an instrument that sends a message and alerts our people.” This is how music and forces are interrelated.
Santosh Thapa, ASI of Nepal Police points out, “Like the force has their own sets of doctor, drivers, they too have band,” adding that music is needed in their different events from “felicitation to saluting to welcoming delegates”.
Classical music of Mozart to Beethoven to popular Nepali tunes improvised to orchestra music to their own compositions are what they play in their band.
Though they are cops first and their role as musicians comes later, they “are still enjoying doing music” as per
And it is this music that acts as entertainment to these people. “In the times of hard training, music motivates and supports us,” Karkidhali insists.
Blooming and grooming
When a huge group of musicians play varieties of instruments, it gives a different feel. Karkidhali opines that if people get the taste and “the different feel”, everyone would like it.
But orchestral concerts are not happening for the public.
In the international level, as informed by Gurung, orchestra music is “big”. “Bands tour and go to different places to perform. Competition of drills and marching are taking place,”
On top of that, civilians and people from forces come together to create a superb symphony orchestra.
Sadly, this is not a scene in Nepal as there is no opportunity in terms of this music.
Thapa sees “manpower” as another hurdle.
“If schools are to provide lessons on different sections of orchestra including string,” Karkidhali expresses that orchestra will come up.
Moreover, Gurung highlights that this genre of music is not easy as others. “For this music, one has to have interest, should be blood rhythmic and have a good education in music. It is not an easy subject. One, two years is not enough to become a professional.”
He himself has given 15 years to learning music and he believes he is teaching his boys and girls what he has learnt for the last 17 years.
From education to training to manpower with support from people and government, Nepal can have orchestra bands of international level.