Author Archives: adrian

ABC Radio National Live Recordings of Sourindro Mohan Tagore Project

The Sourindro Mohan Tagore/Bengal Renaissance project was featured on the ABC Radio National show, The Live Set with Alice Keath on November 27th, 2014. The ensemble Vinod Prasanna, Michael Galeazzi Damian Wright, Bobby Singh and Adrian McNeil recorded 3 tracks and Alice spoke to Adrian about the musical and historical significance of the project in an extended interview.

ABC RN Live Set recording pic ABC RN Live Set pic
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29th Nov 2014 Fellowship Grand Performance – State Library of Victoria

SM Tagore orchestra with interlopers


Early musical connections between Melbourne and Calcutta:
Sourindro Mohun Tagore (1840-1914)
and the Melbourne International Exhibition (1880-81)

Around ninety musical instruments and a series of books on music written by Sourendro Mohun Tagore were sent by this leading figure of the Bengal renaissance to the Melbourne Philharmonic Society from colonial Calcutta in 1880-1, as a gift for the celebrations of the opening of the Melbourne Exhibition Buildings. Amongst these were musical scores Tagore, the founding president of the Bengal School of Music, had written in Western notation based on Hindustani ragas. These scores were intended to provide Western musicians with a way of engaging with some of the key melodic elements of Indian music and also to provide material for his ‘native orchestra’.

Supported by a State Library creative fellowship, Dr Adrian McNeil has put together an exciting and unique musical ensemble which will bring this music to life through emotionally charged virtuosic interpretations of a selection of these beautiful raga based tunes, for the first time since the 19th century. The ensemble is comprised by internationally renowned Australian and Indian musicians.

These historically important pieces combined elements of Hindustani and Western music. This fusion was emblematic of the late nineteenth century Calcutta, a period when the challenges of colonialism and modernity provided the impetus for intercultural creative experimentation in literature, painting, education, theatre and, of course, music amongst the Bengali elite and intellectual classes – the bhadralok.  This music, along with the historically and culturally significant collection of instruments commissioned and constructed by Sourendra Mohan Tagore, were a unique expression of a extraordinary period, often referred to as the Bengal Renaissance. It was an extraordinary forward looking movement that anticipated the fusion and hybrid musical efforts of contemporary times. In this centenary of the anniversary of SM Tagore’s death, it seems fitting to revisit his music and to rediscover this largely unknown connection between Melbourne and Calcutta.


State Library of Victoria
Village Road show Theatrette
November 29th,  2014
Shows at noon and 6 pm

Michael Galeazzi (double bass)
Adrian McNeil (sarod)
Vinod Prasanna (bansuri flute),
Bobby Singh (tabla)
Damian Wright (flamenco guitar)


Tickets at the Door:
Free Entry


Taking up a position at Monash University 2014

After ten years in Sydney, I will be shifting to Melbourne in December 2013 to take up a position as senior lecturer at Monash University (Melbourne) in ethnomusicology. Monash has a strong ethnomusicology program and a rich history of music scholarship and performance. Am looking forward to working in the Zelman Cowan School of Music, and developing areas of study in Indian Music, Improvisation, Theory, Political Economy along with Traditional and Practice Led Research.

Creative Fellowship at the State Library of Victoria for 2013-2014

Adrian has received a prestigious Creative Fellowship from the State Library of Victoria. This award is granted for a six month performance research project based project. The project is based around notations published in a collection of music books sent to Victoria by the Bengali aristocrat Sourendra Mohan Tagore in the late nineteenth century along with a collection of musical instruments. The instruments included a number of hybrid inventions, such as one in which the sitar neck had been combined with a violin body. They are currently housed in the music archives at Monash University. The various songs notated in the books were also quite unique and similarly  embraced intercultural themes and elements. The project will revisit these notations and arrange them for an intercultural ensemble put together especially for the project. The performance will be held in the middle of 2014 in the State LIbrary. Details to be posted when they are confirmed

ARIA nomination for Rasa Duende

Rasa Duende’s first album ‘Improvisations’ (ABC records) has been nominated as a finalist for the World Music category of the ARIA’s*. The winners will be announced on the 15th October 2013.

*Australian Recording Industry Award

New Recording with Bobby Singh

Have, finished recording a new CD of Hindustani music with Bobby Singh in early April 2013 (Ragas Bairagi and Hemant). Just at the production stage now and looking forward to its release later this year.