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Premiere: Composer Visita Evokes Contemplation on ‘An Affective Crossroad’

Hyderabad-based artist Vivek Venugopal worked with violinist Tomasz Pajak, pianist Shantanu Patel and cellist Tatiana Kritskaya on his upcoming record ‘Reveries, Op. 7’

Anurag Tagat Feb 28, 2021

Visita, Tomasz Pajak, Tatiana Kritskaya and Shantanu Patel (clockwise from top left) collaborate on the upcoming classical record 'Reveries, Op. 7.' Photos: Courtesy of the artist

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In the niche world of western classical music in India, Hyderabad-based composer (and on occasion, guitarist) Vivek Venugopal is more than aware that his project Visita may not draw a big listenership. But, as he mentions; he’s not in it for the metrics.

Releasing music since 2015, Venugopal says he’s received plenty of encouraging reviews from musicians and conductors around the globe and found “regular listeners that follow and love my music.” He adds, “[They] end up sending me some really heart warming messages, which makes it all worth it. I like to believe that a lot more people could get into listening to this kind of music.” 

Visita’s latest release is a five-piece album called Reveries, Op. 7, featuring his compositions performed by pianist Shantanu Patel, violinist Tomasz Pajak and cellist Tatiana Kritskaya. They rehearsed the material together one weekend in Mumbai and soon headed into Island City Studios. “Finding a nice rehearsal space with an acoustic piano was also quite hard, but the lovely folks at Mehli Mehta Foundation came to our rescue,” Venugopal says.

The first glimpse of Reveries, Op. 7 arrives with “An Affective Crossroad,” which stays true to Visita’s pensive, emotional composing style, in the realm of contemporary classical. Venugopal says the song is “about contemplating the consequences, specifically the emotional ones, of a choice that lies in front of us.” Unlike his previous records, Venugopal wasn’t guided by an overarching narrative, but decided to flow with the dream-like “train of thought” that each piece evoked. 

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Specifically with “An Affective Crossroad,” he created three sections to convey specific thoughts. The composer says, “The first part is rather neutral and I try to communicate to the listener that s/he is at a crossroad, only providing a rough picture of how each path will affect him/her; the second part is quite happy and chirpy, and there’s another really melancholy section, and of course there’s a lot happening in between, in the transitions – different ‘intermediary moods’ to represent emotions in between happiness and sadness for all the different paths that one could take at the ’emotional crossroad’.” 

On paper, Venugopal has written “several projects,” including ones that envision string quartets, a wind quintet, oboe, soprano and viola. There’s also a piece composed for the Visitar, a custom eight-string guitar that Venugopal has created. Due to the pandemic and its travel restrictions abroad, the artist notes that nothing may be recorded until the latter part of the year. “However, the next release will most likely be a set of six pieces, that I wrote a couple of years ago, for four registers of electronic/vocal texture — soprano, alto, tenor and bass,” he adds.

Listen to “An Affective Crossroad” below. Get the album here.


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