For over a decade, Norway and India have shared a musical bond through the collaboration between the Indian organization Spic Macay and Rikskonsertene (Concerts Norway).

“Norwegian artists have touched the hearts and minds of students in over 105 cities in 21 states of India during this period  and almost all counties in Norway", says the Director of Spic Macay, MsRashmi Malik proudly as she talks about the cooperation.

“It all started many, many years ago over a modest conversation and willingness to do something together.” It then resulted in a collaboration agreement between the Norwegian Embassy in New Delhi and Rikskonsertene, a key element of which was exchange of artists for school concerts between both countries.

The Director of Spic Macay, Ms. Rashmi Malik “At that time neither Concerts Norway nor did we expect that the Norway-India collaboration in music will reach a stage where we will have travelled together a decade of time, hundreds of top musicians, thousands of children and covered some of the remotest towns and villages in both countries.”

The experience, according to Ms Malik, has been enriching and a great learning not only for the artists and musicians but also for her. “I have seen artists learn and unlearn, grow and develop as we have travelled together”, she explains.

One of the key highlights of the collaboration has been that it breaks boundaries between the artists and students. When world-renowned artists like Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia interact with young students, they touch their hearts in a special way and give them a life-long experience.

Similarly, for some Norwegian artists such as the late Olav Dale, Arild Andersen and many more, it becomes a life-changing experience to perform at schools in small towns in India, where the facilities are minimal, and yet the generosity and eagerness is overwhelming.

However, as the project has evolved over the last few years, many changes have occurred. Now the exchange of artists is no longer a part of the collaboration. The focus is now more on capacity building and institutional building, which is also a very important benchmark in providing good musical exposure to young audience.

“The Rural School Incentive (RSI) is a project we take pride in, as it aims to reach out to rural Indian youth.” More than 1000 rural students have benefitted already from this project so far, through two RSIs conducted in Bhubaneshwar (Odisha) and Goa in 2014-15. The young students are invited to stay together in a holistic atmosphere for a week and are exposed to classical traditions, with their day starting as early as 3.45 am with yoga and meditation.

 “This is then followed by workshops and intensive sessions with maestros and eminent people. It is both satisfying and gratifying for us to see the maestros and students come together in a frank, open atmosphere, where both learn equally.”

“Despite the changes over time to the nature of the collaboration, Norway and India continue to create an experience for young minds in a beautiful way, stringing both countries together, and that makes me very, very proud,” says Rashmi Malik, with a vision of hope that the collaboration will be remembered for generations to come.