It's gala time: The power of music with Sunil Paulraj

Monday, 28 July 2014 - 7:08am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

In conversation with Sunil Paulraj, the man behind Toccata -- a musical event bringing down seventy five performers from West End, UK and Ireland

If you believe in the power of music, this is one concert you cannot afford to miss. Seventy five singers and dancers, soloists from the West End, and some of UK and Ireland's finest instrumentalists will be in Bangalore in August to give you a concert remember. Dr Sunil Paulraj, a Belfast-based neonatologist who's originally from Bangalore and also the brains behind this magnificent show called Toccata, talks about the upcoming show…

When was the idea of Toccata conceptualised? What led to its formation?
It all began with the Tsunami in India. Two singers paid their way into India to reach out to the victims and support them through music, and the journey began there. With music as the crux, Toccata took shape in the year 2006. It was born with the vision of raising funds for charitable causes around the world through a world-class musical production. Today that vision is lived by a 75-member strong team from different countries and walks of life. Besides their time and talent these singers irrespective of their musical pedigree or accomplishments do not charge a fee and self-fund themselves on all the concert tours. Toccata also has a medical wing that supports the work of hospitals with donation of equipment.

Given that this is a fundraiser, what are some of the causes you support, apart from the two current ones?
Toccata has donated around £1.2million worth of medical equipment to various hospitals in Asia and Africa. As a rule we identify different causes and charities every year. To name a few - Kasisi foundation, McDonald's children's home, Little Sisters of the Poor, MM Foundation, The Ministry of health in Kenya, etc. We would like to take this initiative to wider regions irrespective of race or religion.

Art and music have always been popular methods to raise funds - in India, and abroad. However, what are some of the challenges you face behind the scenes? Do you raise enough money in India?
Fundraisers are never easy, more so if you are travelling with large teams into international terrains. Connecting with local sponsors on the first instance is always a challenge. The music and the talent pool our production brings together have worked to our advantage. It connects with people. We have had our share of hiccups, but have been received very well. The challenges are almost similar in any country we visit. We keep innovating ways of delivering value for the sponsors' money. The response has been encouraging. India is slowly but surely getting sensitised to the fund raising initiatives. Like in all other places it is one of the toughest battles we fight, but do get associated with a few good brands. Our last few concerts in the country have raised sufficient money; we are hoping this one will too.

You have performed in Bangalore before, what kind of feedback have you received?
It is not just because it is home, that I keep returning to the city with my production, it is because we have been received so warmly and appreciated so deeply. The love we have received through e-mails, social networking sites and press only makes us work harder to out-do expectations every time we return. It is wonderful to be back to India and Bangalore to perform for the people who love us.

Could you give us a sneak peek into what we can expect from the shows?
The songs we have chosen to perform are all iconic pieces from great performers like Elton John, Billy Joel, The Eagles, Neil Diamond, Ralph Mactell, and Queen, etc. We all grew up with them. When we sing a song we add our signature to it. We are doing two different shows, one called the Musical Express featuring the best songs from the great musicals and another called Nostalgia taking you on a retro journey with great hits from the 70s 80s and 90s. This will definitely be a show Bangalore will remember.

Show details
When: August 2 to 6
Where: Chowdiah Memorial
Tickets: Log on to


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