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Calcutta Foundation Orchestra, partly funded by Calcutta Foundation, Washington DC, is Calcutta Foundationís oldest project started by Mrs.Fran Caterini. C.F.O, a training-cum-community Orchestra, comprising young string players from an orphanage, Oxford Mission, was the main focus of Mrs. Fran Caterini; she was  herself a trained violist and  a conductor.  These young ďadultsĒ were trained in string music by Fr. Mathieson, the then administrator of Oxford Mission.  Had it not been for the C.F.O., this group of musicians may not have had an opportunity for further training, and a chance at better life.

Mrs Caterini left, when the Orchestra was still a charity  Orchestra.  In the past ten years, the C.F.O had risen to the level of a professional string Orchestra of a certain standing, the only one of its kind in Kolkata to play Western Classical, Broadway and the Indian music , especially that of  Gurudeb Rabindranath Tagore and the Maihar melodies of Ustad Allauddin Khansahib, in orchestral form. To prepare the musicians to serve the Kolkata audiences better, the Orchestra did experiment with some new wave music with the tabla maestro, Bikram Ghosh. The Calcutta Foundation has had the good fortune of being able to invite some of the best musicians from all over the world to come to Kolkata and train these musicians. Friends in Kolkata have been generous in providing guest house accommodation for these guests, and have supported the Orchestra by providing opportunities for concert evenings.  The Taj Bengal, The Oberoi Grand, The ITC Sheraton, The Hyatt Regency, The Bengal Club, The Tollygunge Club, The Calcutta Club are a few of these patrons who have made it possible for the Orchestra to survive..

From time to time, the musicians have rehearsed at various venues, such as the Gorky Sadan, the Max Mueller Bhavan and the Calcutta School of Music. 

The Orchestra played at different venues, such as the Victoria Memorial, the Gorky Sadan, the American Center, the lawns of the German Consulate, the steps of the Town Hall, the ballrooms of various 5-star hotels, and most significantly, the Brown Room, Raj Bhavan.  It had the honour of being the first music group to play at the Raj Bhavan in recent years, under the baton of a conductor from Chile, 4 years ago.  Last year, a small group from the Orchestra played in the month of August in the  presence of the President of India, and later, as a quartet for Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, at the Raj Bhavan. The full Ensemble also played for Mr John Major, when he visited India as the Prime Minister of England.

We were fortunate to be able to send quartets from amongst this Orchestra to visit and be trained under world class musicians in  various countries, and play in the best concert houses in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney.

It has not been easy Ö 10 years of dedicated hard work by the musicians, carrying their instruments backwards and forwards from Behala to the CSM, come rain or sunshine, traveling to foreign lands and interacting with new people.  It must have been difficult.

Despite the fact that the Orchestra has been the Calcutta Foundationís most prestigious and visible project, it was in the interest of the musicians that the Calcutta Foundation Board decided to give them a permanent home under the aegis of  the Calcutta School of Music; not only a permanent home, but a professional day to day guidance. The Calcutta School of Music took  C.F.O. under its wings on 22 March,2005 in the gracious presence of  Shri Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the Honorable Governor of West Bengal. Calcutta Foundation Orchestra,  now been handed over to the Calcutta School of Music, will continue to be supported by Mr.Donald Harrison and Mrs. Jennifer Caterini of Washington DC.

The orchestra has now been renamed as the Calcutta Chamber Orchestra


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