Taj Exotica

Maldives

Taj Exotica

Maldives

This was the first assignment of Music Curator. For the re-opening of the Taj Exotica in the Maldives in 2007, the management thought of developing a marketing premium by giving offering a memento to their first guests.

The Context

The Maldives are a luxury destination, so guests are expectedly sophisticated. They fly in from all over the world into these confetti spread in the vast Indian Ocean to sunbathe, snorkel, eat and drink, and then fly out again – not suspecting that they vacationed in the ‘Mediterranean of the East’, surrounded by ancient cultures with a very rich history.

The Music

We curated a deluxe compact disc – ear-picked compositions, sourced through hard to find specialists, that took the listener on a wonderful 70 minutes musical voyage around the Indian Ocean, along the fabled Spice Route of the Dhow Countries: from Madagascar to Zanzibar, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Western Java. The CD had liner notes, one page per track, describing in detail the cultural context of every track.

The guests discovered that this cluster of tiny islands in the Indian Ocean isn’t just ‘the acme of exoticism’ but are contained in and surrounded by ancient cultures, fabulous wealth and absolutely magnificent musical traditions. As a companion to this compact disc, we suggested that guests read Richard Hall’s unrivalled and instructive epic “Empires of the Monsoon”, a first-class, gripping panoramic study of the history of the Indian Ocean.

It is at that time also that we settled on the two axioms that would govern our work: “A Higher Experience” and “There is no luxury without culture”.

Falaknuma Palace

Hyderabad (India)

Falaknuma Palace

Hyderabad (India)

One of the most opulent palaces in India, the Falaknuma – Mirror of the sky – Palace represents the apogee of luxury, an example of the staggering level of expenditure and unrestrained extravagant lifestyle that made the rulers of Hyderabad a proverbial name, the oriental figures of the myth of Croesus. The building has been magnificently restored by the Taj Group and reopened as a hotel in 2010.

The Context

Music Curator was commissioned to illustrate musically the complex cultural warp and woof of this marquee destination, one of the ‘Jewels’ of the Taj Group.

Palace clientèle expect an immersive experience. Music Curator created the soundtrack of this luxurious world by connecting the eclectic cultural inspirations that were woven into the architecture and décor of the palace.

The music helps guests experience the nostalgia of a bygone era and feel a kinship with the lifestyle of Hyderabad’s rulers within this fabled display of Oriental extravaganza.

The Music

In the Venetian-esque Lobby and attached Museum, we staged the acoustic strains of an imaginary ‘composer in residence’, where graceful piano motifs are heard in the distance, exploring the works of Venetian composers like Claudio Monteverdi and Antonio Vivaldi who composed concertos for oriental lute with lyrical motifs in minor mode, revealing a Levantine influence.

The sunset at Gol Bungalow, an open-air lounge, is an invitation to an Istanbul-themed lounge in India. This is the sound of a new generation of composers who re-invent and re-orient the vibrant ancestral sound of their city. The playlist contextually matches the live performance of the Sufi musicians.

The evening at Gol Bungalow is a romantic love cocktail, where every night is Valentine for ever and for everyone in a number of languages such as English, Italian, Japanese… along with instrumental interludes of the deepest velvety smooth jazz. Each track is carefully ear-picked.

Adaa restaurant has a fine selection of classical and semi-classical instrumental Hindustani music, an anthology of beautiful bandishes from the last fifty years performed on a wide variety of instruments. It also includes the occasional Ottoman Court Music and Indian fusion.

In 2016, this fine dining Hyderabadi cuisine restaurant was included for the second year in a row among the ‘Top 100 Best Restaurants in the World’ by ‘Elite Traveler’, the only restaurant from South Asia in that list.

Celeste Restaurant

Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad (India)

Celeste Restaurant

Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad (India)

it was built in Palladian style blending Tudor, Venetian, Ottoman and Mughal elements by a British architect in 1884-93 for a legendary Prime Minister of the erstwhile Hyderabad State: Vikar ul-Umra. His wife’s family traced its lineage to Istanbul and Hungary, hence the Turkish features that make this Palace the Eastern-most outpost of Ottoman architecture.

The Context

We sound-designed the lifestyle of Hyderabad’s rulers as an ‘Orientalised’ allegory of the Ottoman Dynasty. This unique musical trajectory between Hungary (the prime minister’s grand mother-in-law was Hungarian), Turkey and Hyderabad highlights a hitherto little known or neglected musical field within the study of Ottoman court music.

The Music

The Celeste restaurant:  a ‘celeste’ is a 3 octaves metallophone keyboard of the 19th century. It’s soft and subtle timbre gave the instrument its name, meaning “heavenly” in French, which is the perfect adjective to the breakfast soundtrack.

The Continental menu at lunch is an opportunity to underline the western territories of the Ottoman Empire that stretched until Eger, Hungary. The soundtrack tackles the imagination of early 20th century ‘new folklores’ as many composers drew their inspiration from national folklore, often borrowing from Roma musicians to create their own vision of an exotic and largely imaginary Orient.

Dinner at the Celeste is a musical masquerade in grand palatial style. It is not easy to decide who is wearing the mask: is it a vintage American jazz band playing a Strauss waltz? Or a western European orchestra playing an Oriental Gypsy swing?

Umaid Bhawan Palace

Jodhpur (India)

Umaid Bhawan Palace

Jodhpur (India)

The last palace to be built in India, circa 1929-1943, this colossal yellow sandstone Indian Art Déco building, sitting atop a hill amidst 26 acres of manicured gardens, managed by the Taj Group, was voted “Best Hotel in the World 2016” by TripAdvisor members.

The Context

Four highly-contrasted, distinctive public zones but with a royal constant, overwhelmed by an imposing martial, heroic architecture, enhanced by manly trophies and ancient weaponry. Enjoys excellent acoustics.

The Music

We created multiple day parts and dedicated musical atmosphere for each venue, and paid tribute to the original Palace Musician, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan (1922-2009), and his rich international musical legacy.

In the majestic 105-feet high cupola, we softened the deep resonance with feminine breeze of heavenly harp and Indian flute.

On the Pillars Terrace overlooking the royal gardens, we used elegant strings of panoramic proportion to soundtrack the beauty of roaming peacocks.

At the Trophy Bar, we launched a musical ‘time travel machine’ to the quaintness of an early 20th century salon.

Adorned by royal portraits, the Risala restaurant fine dines an imaginary dinner for royal guests of the last Empire, to the sound of Victorian era Pastoral music with echoes of Indian strains.

The Trophy Bar

Umaid Bhavan (Jodhpur, India)

The Trophy Bar

Umaid Bhavan (Jodhpur, India)

The Context

Encased in the majestic Umaid Palace, the Trophy Bar offers a visually immersive cultural experience that serves as a comfy reading salon during the daytime, when most guests are away on sightseeing, but gets busy from the evening onwards.

The Music

We created a sonic ‘time machine’ to transport the listener to final splendors of Imperial British India, using textures – discrete, periodic crackling sound of old radio and vinyl records -, ear-picked historical recordings and contemporary works that honestly revisit the era; or unearthing very rare, contextual recordings – such as a Hindi song praising the Viceroy and recordings of early Jazz in India.

To this ever-evolving music library, we are adding works that illustrate the early age of aviation in India, of which the Maharaja was a pioneer, with masterpieces from the large semi-arid zone that stretches from Jodhpur to Nouachkott.

Guest flow too influenced our musical selections. The afternoon music is at once artful and poetic, to create a witty story-line punctuated by quirky and beauty elements, yet has an easy-listening quality to avoid demanding too much attention from the guests. This easy-listening quality is enhanced by the sequencing production, each track length ranging from 30 seconds to less than 4 minutes, to ensure a fast sequenced continuity of eclectic moments so that even a non-musical guest is never trapped in a difficult moment.

In the evening, the Music Curator player changes to the Sunset mood, also called ‘The GM’s Drink’, customized to delay the guests-flow to the restaurants Pillars and Risala. Later at night, it moves to a more mainstream vintage Jazz selection that raises imperceptibly the energy level for post-dinner drinks.

The richness and the very uniqueness of this selection makes it a museum of aural curiosities and memorabilia which is a pleasing invitation to engage and be inspired while being absolutely in tune with the room decor and the fantasy of its history.

Rambagh Palace

Jaipur (India)

Rambagh Palace

Jaipur (India)

The Jewel of Jaipur is set in a 47-acres of landscaped garden, a pastoral retreat from the hurly-burly of a congested city. Its subtle connection to the city’s regal history is visible in the lavish details of marbled corridors, carved pillars and soaring domes.

The Context

Music Curator contemplated the sound design of the five public venues from the role the hotel plays in the city of Jaipur in the context of its Taj Group lineage.

The Music

In the Lobby and marble verandah looking out to the garden, we produced a soundtrack of shimmering lightness, inspired by the pastel of the walls and the dance of the garden’s butterflies.

In the Suvarna Mahal, a grand palatial venue of Royal Gastronomy, we created a unique masterpiece of prestigious orchestral strings for dignified Indian classical music.

The Rajput Room, decorated as a tribute to the Maharani Gayatri Devi, was the natural recipient to graceful and romantic musical selections of the numerous Indophile, and Indian, jazz musicians, such as the late Amancio D’Silva, whom the Princess patronized. She bought him his first professional guitar, a Gibson. As a tribute to the artist and his patron, the Rajput Room is the only place on earth where Amancio’s works are performed daily.

The Polo Bar soundtrack revives at night a Belle Epoque quaintness of a fantasied aristocratic socialite life.

On the outskirt of the Palace, a colonial train station has been turned into The Steam Bar, whose entertaining soundtrack of Jazz and Soul music with a contemporary retro touch, offers to locals and guests the genuine edge of an urban bar.

Novotel

Pune (India)

Novotel

Pune (India)

Upscale urban business hotel with grand open spaces, contemporary décor and creative lighting, the Novotel has established itself as a feel good, high-energy destination for the global professionals of this vast IT and automobile hub.

The Context

Music Curator was commissioned to craft a music programing for the three major public zones of the hotel, with a focus on Millennials. Whereas creative programing in similar settings is often used to stylize a discreet atmospheric background, here we have created a self-assured, expressive soundtrack.

The Music

The Lobby is a typical ‘front desk-lounge-bar-restaurant’ open area where ear-picked, weightless, Indo-international pop music is performed from a glimmering utopic future, in a savant scheduling of intensities across the day and night.

The Square, the Accor-signature All-day Dinning restaurant, celebrates, from a French point of view, Pune’s newfound status as a Global Citizen Hub where music translates the Millenials’ aspirations to “Make the Planet Great Again”. The soundtrack is day-parted with specific intensities and colors under the Indian Standard Time.

Soak, the Accor-signature Pool Bar, rises from horizontality to verticality in three scheduled steps of musical intensity, building up through patterned contrasts and delivered through seamlessly mixed edits of impeccable aesthetics, fueled by a true taste-maker approach, towards a near-ritual of spiritual communion, a metaphor of a Millennial lifestyle.

Royal Enfield Garage Café

Baga (Goa)

Royal Enfield Garage Café

Baga (Goa)

Royal Enfield "Made like a gun" is a legendary brand name that has among the fiercest, most passionate and loyal customers among bikers the world over. Building on this community, the company decided to build a network of Garage Café where clients can live the Royal Enfield experience. The pilot project opened in Goa on 23 December 2017. Every Garage Café will comprise a garage, a showroom, a restaurant and an open air lounge. Music Curator was called to design the soundtrack of this experience.

The Context

Rock’n roll music has enormous influence in motorbike culture, which is committed to a way of leisure rather than life. Bikers disdain the commercial function of music and search for original artists. For them, genuine performances hold the ultimate musical value. Bikers value the freshness, authenticity and conviction of personal delivery by the artists; music that is, in a sense, answerable to the restlessness and adventure of their personal lives.

The Music

The freedom metaphor associated with the Enfield ride kicks in from the word go. The selection genuinely reflects the biker culture genealogy from the origins in the ’60s to the budding artists of tomorrow, while avoiding the pitfalls of niche, mainstream clichés and other overheard pieces. The mix also features unexpected international evocations of imaginary landscapes (Mexico desert, Ocean drive, dust road of Iran…), along with occasional pop-ups of tracks reflecting the wide geographic origin of Royal Enfield enthusiasts (Israel, French, Latin…), with some rare gems from the global underground rock movement (Angola, India, Philippines, etc.).

Such an eclectic selection does not always mix well when randomly shuffled. Hence, we have handcrafted self-contained playlists of 15-20 minutes each where songs blend perfectly and meaningfully with one another.

All zones have three different intensities:

Daytime Quiet: atmospheric, subtle and evocative, always on the pulse, not contemplative.

Daytime Busy: more intense and straightforward, to cover and entertain the noise of more peoples.

Evening: gets bolder, deeper and more electrified as the night progresses.

Maritime by San Lorenzo

Mumbai

Maritime by San Lorenzo

Mumbai

The first international venture by the upmarket London restaurant.

The Context

A cosy room of 50 covers, with a low ceiling, offers all focus on the haute gastronomy, while a bar space adds an element of distraction with a roster of flying mixologists.

The elements include bright marble and fine white wooden planks, reminiscent of beach installation, enhanced by colourful art from Portofino on the Bar side and vintage photography from the Ligurian Coast/Gulf of Poets on the restaurant side.

The Music

The creation of three day-parts were commissioned: Lunch, Bar time and Dinner.

We created a soundtrack for A sunny terrace in a black & white Italian movie to achieve an effect of Riviera hedonism.

A fashion statement is made by today’s exciting Italian music producers, who created an innovative style of Jazz that incorporates sounds from Italian soundtracks of the 1960′s with other evocative, easy listening themes.

A fine balance had to be found to leave room to the Gastronomy experience while keeping the intensity of the atmosphere fluctuating between perfect invisibility and subtly progressive moments of higher spirits.