New Delhi, January 29: On a sunny evening, under a clear blue sky, with a bracing breeze fluttering the tricolour, 1,000 bandsmen of the Indian armed forces brought music alive on Thursday at the Beating Retreat ceremony which brings the curtain down on the four–day Republic Day celebrations.
Over time, there have been innumerable changes in the selection of music for the occasion but this year’s ceremony was exceptiol in that 20 of the 23 tunes were by Indian composers and here lies the rub: Not all the tunes could be classified as marches and to that extent, they took away much of the military aspect.
Thus, while debutants “Vir Bharat”, “Chha Bilauri”, “Jai Jam Bhumi” and “Athulya Bharat” were rousing enough and served their purpose, “Andloke” sounded more like a lullaby than the slow march it was supposed to be.
Then, the “Dashing Desh” fusion began with a lone flute and with clarinets, bassoons, saxophones, trumpets and drums joining in before yielding to the flute — a work more appropriate for a concert hall than for the grand Vijay Chowk square at the foot of the Raisi Hill where the Beating Retreat ceremony is held.
Then, “Glorious India” opened as fanfares should but then went into what could be loosely called a dance number.
What did work was the experimental “Salaam to the Soldiers” slow march, interspersed with strains of “Aae Mere Watan ke Logon”.
Still, this is not to detract from the magnificence of the hour–long ceremony, which began with the arrival in state of President Prab Mukherjee, to be received by Prime Minister rendra Modi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, his deputy Rao Inderjit Singh and the three service chiefs. The massed bands then made their entry with a soul–stirring version of “Deshon Ka Sartaj Bharat” that never fails to bring on the goose pimples. (IANS)