South India being steeped in the tradition of drums, a concert by Chennai-born drummer Sivamani along with Christoph Haberer (Percussion) and Michael Heupel (Flute) from Germany is an appropriate opening event for the Indo-German Urban Mela. Schooled in both Carnatic rhythmic tradition and Western Jazz drums, Sivamani is truly a world Percussionist - surrounding his kit with an array of instruments. He has played world over with some of the best international artistes. In fact, no world tour of multi-Oscar and multi-Grammy winner A R Rahman is complete without Sivamani’s daunting presence. What makes him unique is not only his constant search for new techniques, new sounds and newer rhythmic configurations, but also his incredible showmanship.
Sivamani creates magic with just about anything from his conventional cymbals to the timbale to the batajon to the vastly unconventional shells and conches and "Biryani Kadai" (a popular cooking vessel in Asia).His style is deceptive for the uninitiated. Deeply profound and mysterious at one moment, tantalizing and exuberant at the next. However, augmenting the brute power, are his rhythmic style and harmony, which surround the discerning listener with warmth, joy and bliss.
Christoph Haberer, the drummer and percussionist, deals with a wide variety of styles and rhythmic concepts. A globe trotter, he is familiar with the sounds of different continents and cultures. With his alert mind, Christoph Haberer appreciates the stringency of structure, and as a contemporary artist, he uses the new dimensions of electronically controlled music. And then there is this joyful interplay, this obvious pleasure in surprise and in the clash of differing expectations and perceptions with which he gives the drumstick his own, personal touch.
Haberer searches for and generates a kind of music which combines the essential aspects of his musical experiences. His openness for new developments and for creating something totally different and yet unheard lends magic to his style. Polyrhythms and polymetrics characterise one part of his work, whereas the emotional content of melodic changes and their friction with musical moves offer the thrilling counterpoint.
The German flutist Michael Heupel has been collecting precious experience, adding variety to his musical repertoire (for instance Jazz music, improvisation). Along with Christoph Haberer, he toured countries like Turkey and some of the North African nations.
His flute (exclusively invented and created for him) is both a special and a massive one: a so-called sub contrabass flute which belongs – beside the piccolo, alto, bass and concert flute which he plays perfectly too – to the cross flute family. Therefore, his virtuoso playing of these instruments – especially of the sub contrabass flute – has mesmerised audiences and will continue to do so.