Spanish writer, musician, actor, politician and professor of the University of Seville, Dr José Carlos Carmona who is currently in Goa to identify the possibility of creating the first music department for Western music in India, spoke to TG Life on his multi-disciplinary journey
A seeker of knowledge, a wordsmith and a traveler, his warm and welcoming smile instantly captivates even those who meet him for the first time. An author of 12 books of his own and 43 more in collaboration with others, Spanish professor Dr José Carlos Carmona manages to communicate in English fairly well. Pronouncing that music is universal and for all to learn and enjoy, this conductor of music is open to share his knowledge with the world and that brings him to India and to Goa, in particular.
While in India, Carmona travelled to the holy city of Kashi to interact with the director of music department in Banaras Hindu University and also visited pink city of Jaipur, Delhi, Dharmashala and Kolkata. In fact, Carmona took 18 flights to travel 30,000 km in 20 days along with his disciple Maestro Dr Santiago Lusardi Girelli who founded the Goa University Choir in August 2013. During the past three years Goa University Choir has offered 20 odd concerts in Goa and India, collaborating with renowned artists from all over the world.
Santiago studied for six years and did his doctorate in music under Carmona a decade ago, after which he took up the job with the Goa University to start this project of performing arts five years ago.
Carmona’s own passion for music is unparalleled. Stating how the passion to become a music conductor got ignited in him when he was just a teenager, Carmona recalls studying music at the age of 13 and then devoting 17 long years to complete his doctorate in Philosophy and Music. He became a master of many disciplines – philosophy, law, music, politics and literature only because he wanted to be a good conductor of music. Sometimes, the circumstances and environment give birth to artists, writers or politicos and Carmona was not an exception to this. He fondly remembers, “The atmosphere of the city which I lived was very conducive for learning different skills. A capital city of Latin America, it was full of palaces and natural beauty. We lived in a close-knit community where opportunities and possibilities walked hand in hand.”
Remembering his foray in writing Carmona shares, “It was while sitting in the history classes that the writing bug bit me. I first attempted to write a letter to my friend who had left school and gone to live in another city. I wrote several letters. Amazed by the power of my own words, I soon began participating in writing competitions and winning. Eventually, it brought out the writer in me.”
Indeed, writers never cease to write. At 56, Carmona just finished writing his latest novel - the third in the row after ‘The Taste of Chocolate’ and ‘The Taste of Cinnamon’ - ‘The Taste of Strawberry’ which is on the way of publishing. A bestseller ‘The Taste of Chocolate’ has sold 1,00,000 copies. “It’s my first visit to India, but before I visited your country, I imagined how it would be and wrote a novel too, which is on the way of publishing,” he smiles.
“Music is the soul of my novels and the characters in them are in some way or another, associated with music. It is music that connects the world and brings people together,” says Carmona, pointing to his pupil Santiago Lusardi Girelli, who did his PhD in music under him.
Today Santiago, is travelling with him across India to create people’s enthusiasm in Western music. “We are identifying the possibility of upcoming first music department for Western music in India and are one step away from creating the department in Goa University,” maintains Santiago, who has created Goa University choir and conducted 16 credit music course, few music festivals in collaboration with national orchestra in India and travelled to cities to host 200 people – teachers, students and musicians. In Goa, under Santiago’s tutelage, 1500 students have studied music.
“This is a minuscule number as compared to 80,000 students in our university in Spain,” points out Carmona who is optimistic of creating leaders in music. Aware that today, most of the Western music choirs in India are led by non-Indians, which should change.
Carmona is on a scholarship from his University of Seville to visit India, to conduct choirs, classes, lectures and workshops in collaboration with Goa University. Making the best of this visit, he and Santiago are keen in spreading the love to learn music. Goa is the perfect and fertile soil where the seeds of music can be sowed, as the intermingling of cultures here has already introduced Western music.