US Consulate General Kolkata celebrates its 225 years of relationship with the city with a musical evening
Kolkata/IBNS: Not many people know that the US Consulate General in Kolkata enjoys a preeminent place in the history of American diplomacy as one of the oldest American Consulates anywhere in the world, and the oldest in India.
President George Washington, on November 19, 1792, nominated Benjamin Joy of Newbury Port as the first American Consul to Calcutta (as Kolkata was then known as).
With the advice of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson later the third President of the United States and consent of the Senate, President Washington commissioned Joy to that office on November 21, 1792.
Joy, however, reached Calcutta only in April 1794.
He was never recognized as Consul by the British East India Company but was permitted to “reside here as a Commercial Agent subject to the Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction of this Country.”
Despite this rather inauspicious beginning, Benjamin Joy’s arrival was the beginning of a long official American relationship with the city – and, indeed, with all of India.
Therefore, to commemorate 225 years of American diplomacy in the city, the U.S. Consulate General Kolkata organised the Youth Orchestra Performance in association with Abraham Mazumdar Academy of Music on Dec 6, 2019.
“The cornerstone of US-India relations was and is people-to-people ties,” said Consul General Patti Hoffman, while inaugurating the event.
She said, “Exchanging culture is an integral part of American diplomacy, and all our performers tonight exemplify these ideals.”
Conducted by Abraham Mazumder and led by Anubrato Ghatak as the Concert Master, the orchestra, which consisted of 30 performers from Kolkata as well as Bangladesh-based cellist Razef Khan, performed a medley of American folk music, Western Classical Music, and Bengali songs.
Abraham Mazumder is a leading conductor in Western Classical Music in Kolkata for the last four decades.
Anubrato Ghatak is a passionate Western Classical musician and music educationist, specializing in a wide range of string instruments, orchestral playing and conducting from India.
Razef Khan is a cellist based in Dhaka, Bangladesh and is currently continuing his studies with French Cellist Franck Bernerde.
The repertoire included The Entertainer by Scott Joplin (Violin Solo: Anirban Mazumder); Rondeau by Henry Purcell; Church Sonata, KV 144 by W. A. Mozart; Music for the Royal Fireworks, La Rejouissance, Menuet I & II by G. F. Handel; Jamaica Farewell by Harry Belafonte; Blowing in the Wind by Bob Dylan; Take Five by Paul Desmond; Mono Mor Meghero Songi by Rabindranath Tagore; Inside Ray’s World by Satyajit Ray; Concerto for Cello, Strings & Continuo in C major, RV 399 by Antonio Vivaldi (Cello Solo: Razef Khan, Leader: Dibyokamal Mitra); Khorobayu Boy Bege- Interlude & Prelude adapted from Handel’s Messiah, “Why Do the Nations So Furiously Rage Together?” by Rabindranath Tagore; Violin Concerto No. 4 in G major (Hob. VIIa/4) 1st movement: Allegro by Joseph Haydn (Violin Solo: Anirban Mazumder, Leader: Dibyokamal Mitra); While my Guitar Gently Weeps by The Beatles; Bhalobashi by Mohiner Ghoraguli; and America from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein & Stephen Sondheim.