The composer Clarence Barlow was born of English ancestry in 1945 in Calcutta in India, where he grew up as one of the English-speaking minority. He got to know more about western than about Indian musical culture, began playing the piano in 1949 and composing in 1957.
From 1961-65 Barlow studied science in Cologne then from 1966-68 taught music theory and conducted a madrigal choir and a youth string-orchestra in India. Back in Cologne in 1968 he joined Bernd Alois Zimmermann's class in composition, then after Zimmermann's death he studied under Karlheinz Stockhausen till 1973, beginning to use computers for composing in 1971. In India from 1973-75 he gave concerts, held lectures and studied the northern Indian style of singing as his first close involvement in Indian culture. Since 1975 he has been living as a free-lance composer in Cologne.
In 1980 Barlow published 'Bus Journey to Parametron', a book about his yearlong concern with tonality, and his extremely complex 'Çogluotobüsisletmesi', a piano-work based on his speculations, was first performed. It was honoured with the Kranichsteiner Music Prize, and Barlow also received the Art Prize of the City of Cologne. In the next few years he was busy not only teaching at home and abroad but also composing in the big electronics' studios in Europe and the USA, including Utrecht, Stockholm, Paris, Amsterdam, Chicago and Den Haag.
In 1986 Barlow co-founded the 'Initiative Musik und Informatik Köln'(GIMIK), and in 1988 was the musical director of the 14th International Computer-Music Conference in Cologne. In 1990 he was made head of the Institute of Sonology, now based in Den Haag, where he began teaching composition and sonology in 1994. In 1995 he became a member of the International Academy for Electro-acoustic Music in Bourges.
The composer Param Vir was born in Delhi in 1952. As a child he learned the tabla but not for long. Only on beginning to learn the piano at the age of 9 did he show any enthusiasm for music. He got to know music in the western Christian tradition in going to a catholic school, then at the age of 14 began composing and met the German composer Hans-Joachim Koellreutter, who at the time was living in Delhi. Koellreutter taught him counterpoint and harmony and familiarised him with 12-tone music.
As regards his musical background, Param Vir says: 'I had come across the Karajan recordings of the symphonies whilst browsing in the Goethe Institute. Ragas, talas, plainsong, Palestrina, Strauss, 12-tone rows and Greek ecclesiastical modes all meeting in the mind of a teenager in post-colonial Delhi? This was surely a fortuitous conjunction of influences.'
Since he saw no professional future for himself as a composer in India, Param Vir gave up studying music at the end of school and turned to studying history and philosophy at Delhi University. After completing his studies in 1974 he came back to music, which he then taught in Delhi at a secondary school. He there developed unusual forms of musical education, analysing for instance western operettas and musicals. In 1979 he founded the 'Music Theatre Workshop' to carry out music-theatre projects for Delhi children.
In 1983 he studied composition under Peter Maxwell Davies, Bernard Rands and Robert Saxton at the Dartington Summer School of Music in Devon and began studying in London under the composer Oliver Knussen.
In Europe Param Vir's works soon won acceptance. In 1985 he won the prize for composition from the Guildhall School of Music; in 1986 he was a fellow in composition at the Tangelwood Music Centre in Massachus etts and won the Kucyna International Prize for Composition in Boston, following which he won the Bemjamin Britten and Michael Tippet Prize for composition. In 1988 a Homi Bhabha Fellowship from Bombay enabled him to stage in Delhi the opera 'Krishna', which he had worked on with his Music Theatre Workshop. In 1989 he studied computer-music at the IRCAM in Paris and his work 'Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva' for six solo voices (1988) was premiered at the Donaueschinger Musiktagen. Since the autumn of 1992 he has been teaching at the Oberlin College in Oberlin in Ohio.
Param Vir became known internationally through his second opera 'Snatched by the Gods' and 'Broken Strings', commissioned by Hans Werner Henze for the 1992 Munich Biennale, where he won the prize for the best composer.
Asked if he thinks of himself as an Indian composer with works belonging to Indian culture, Param Vir replied in an interview: 'The world today is an extraordinary meeting-point for divergent identities, cultures, languages, thought forms and ideologies, all jostling together in some amazing dance, the secret purpose of which has yet to be revealed. We are in the Hall of Mirrors - and can use the distorting mirrors of Otherness, of Difference, to see ourselves better, with greater self-knowledge.'
(Source: 'Komponisten der Gegenwart' (Composers of Today), published by Hann s-Werner Heister and Walter Wolfgang Sparrer, edition text und kritik, Munich)
The composer Naresh Sohal was born in 1939 in the Punjab in northern India and went to Britain in 1962 to study western music, being one of the first Indian composers to devote himself to it wholly. Since then he has composed many works performed by renowned orchestras and eminent conductors like the New York Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta and the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sir Andrew Davis. Naresh Sohal has written orchestral works but also chamber-music, choral works, two chamber operas and a ballet.
The composer Shirish Korde was born in Uganda but comes from an Indian family. He first studied jazz and composition at the Berklee College of music then at the New England Conservatory. From 1973-76 he studied ethnomusicology, specialising in India and Africa, at Brown University on Rhode Island.
Shirish Korde's compositions are notable for integrating and synthesising diverse musical styles into highly complex, expressive layers. He is one of the few contemporary composers who has been intensely involved in non-European music, jazz and computer-sounds.
Among his best known works are: Tenderness of Cranes, Time Grids, Constellations for Saxophone Quartet, The Chamber Concerto and Drowned Woman of the Sky. He has composed five great works for music-theatre: Chitra, Rasa, Bhima's Journey, The Separate Prison, a jazz opera and The Conquistadors. All these works are notably influenced by Asian musical and dramatic forms, especially Balinese gamelan music, north-Indian tala, Japanese shakuhachi music, jazz and computers.
Besides writing classical music, he has written works for jazz ensemble, including the opera 'The Separate Prison' for actors, singers and jazz quintet as well as Jazz Songs for jazz singers and a small ensemble - a work based on texts by Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou and Alice Walker.
Shirish Korde is a professor and head of the music department at the Holy Cross College in Massachusetts.