Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Green Ragas Experience

At the end of the year 2009 I found a message in my email box from one of my best musician friends, the British sarod and guitar player and film maker Chinmaya Dunster. I think we first met when we collaborated on a CD with Sangit Sirus, who was then an artist of the famous NIGHTINGALE label in South Germany. So was I, and Sirus had asked me to play some flute on this recordings and do the engineering. The name of the CD was Spiral Dance. It was a great session, I think it was around 1993. I still remember that Sirus said to me: „you are a born flute player“, which encouraged me to carry on studying the bansuri (the Indian bamboo flute). I also remember those fantastic Persian meals that Sirus prepared. But it was a special gift from existence that I first met Chinmaya during these sessions. Not only because it was a great experience to play with this excellent musician who was continously searching for ways to combine Indian and Western music, but also because this was the start of fa great friendship and has led to many more collaborations over the years.

But back to my email box. In this message Chinmaya simply asked me if I would like to participate in a series of live concerts in India. Well, this was beyond my wildest dreams, although I had already thought many times about visiting Mother India once again (after 20 years of absence). So I packed my suitcase, gave my dog Mayla into the loving care of my Welsh neighbors Roy, Louise and Zoi (thanks!) and off I went in February 2010 from Crete via Athens to New Delhi. And what can I say? It was one of the greatest experiences in my whole life! Besides Chinmaya and the fantastic singer Sandeep Srivastav we were six more musicians: three from the West and three from India. In the cozy living room of our little hotel we spent 10 days of intense rehearsal and worked out the program for the „Green Raga Band“. I mostly played bansuri, except for two songs where Chinmaya had begged me into playing a few Cretan tunes on my Cretan Lyra. At first I was a little worried if this instrument would really fit into the all over style of the band. But I quickly realized that our Indian friends played those tunes as if they had Cretan blood running in their veins. Even the singer Sandeep contributed a vocal solo on a Cretan „Sirtos“, a mixture that has most probably never happened before. Instead of describing these highlights verbally I am just presenting here one videos, I think it says enough.

In October I went to New Delhi again, for two concerts that were given as part of the 2010 Common Wealth Games festivities. Another fantastic experience! The audience was simply freaking out – there was so much joy and heart touching energy happening during those concerts. Here is a link to an article in the Osho Times about Green Ragas Concert in Delhi, that says it all.

What also made these concerts so special was the fact, that they are really multi media events. This is mainly Chinmayas contribution, who is deeply engaged in spreading awareness about environmental concerns and social justice issues, mainly in India. He presents on a screen above the stage his great video films, carefully chosen to fit with each song of the program. Moreover, to add more color to the program, the female poet Kanupriya Dhawan from Delhi presented her poems and the vocalist Anand Risha from Gujarat performed two of her great songs with the band as a guest artist.

And whats next? I don't know, but I have a feeling as if this was just the beginning. Lets stay in touch, I will keep you informed.

Sangit Om

Friday, May 28, 2010

a review

Hello everybody,

a few days ago I have been told that Lloyd Barde of Backroads Music has written a review about my latest CD The Spirit of Yoga. I highly appreciate this review not mainly because it is very positive, but because it sums up what I feel myself about my latest CD. Here it is:

SANGIT OM Spirit of Yoga

Sangit Om has four previous releases, focusing on Eastern healing arts such as Qui Gong (Chi Kung), Tai Chi or Feng Shui. He finds himself very much at home on the latest, "The Spirit of Yoga," with a combining of Indian instruments, the modes of selected Indian ragas and the chanting of sacred mantras. While fusing influences from the East and the West, he stays true to the essence of Yoga, and the lucid liner notes explain how this practical philosophy was developed in India in ancient times. Through his beautifully flowing music, played through the combining of Indian bamboo flutes, santoor, tanpura, tablas and other percussion instruments, Sangit Om provides inspiring music to support the practice of yoga, providing healing effects which are positive and uplifting. There are a couple of mantras that enhance the listening experience, sung through he weaving of male and female voices. They are carefully mixed amongst the ragas and flowing compositions. His knowledge and absorption of Indian music, spiritual practice and musical forms and structures all adds up to an unparalleled recording, sure to stand out in a field that is often saturated with sameness. I have been thoroughly enjoying this CD, a very faithful rendering of "The Spirit of Yoga". - Lloyd Barde

Thank you Lloyd, and with best wishes from Crete...

... oh, as I mention Crete... people are asking me about the economic crisis that we are facing here. We are all right, strong as always and optimistic. Come and visit us!

Sangit Om

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hi everybody,

last time I was writing about year 2009 events. Now somebody has said to me, that I can't tell last years news in a BLOG. I don't know how you feel about it, maybe is he right? His opinion was that the most important thing about news is that they are new. Hmmm... and I thought the most important thing was that the news contain the truth. Like Mullah Nasrudin, who had no doubt about this, as this little story demonstrates:

One morning Mullah Nasrudins wife read in a newspaper the announcement of her own death. She quickly called her husband who was outside the town and said: "Have you read the morning paper, Mulla? And, did you see the announcement of my death?" "Yes," said Nasrudin. "where are you calling from?"

I agree that the best news are those that are new and true. But please feel free to leave a comment (scroll down!) about your opinion. Anyhow, I am informing you today about may latest CD-release. In January 2010 "SANGIT OM / THE SPIRIT OF YOGA" was released by  OREADE.

I have made a whole track available at Myspace . It is called "Bittersweet", although the real title as it appears on the CD is called "The Inner Flame":

In case someone wants to order the CD, I suggest AMAZON (see left).

The work on this CD was really a big adventure for me. I went deep into the spirit of Mother India. Almost all pieces are featuring the Bansuri, the Indian Bambooflute. There are Ragas and Mantras. I also had a special guest on this CD: the Mantrasinger Lucia Licht from Germany, who has also just recently released a wonderful CD with her Mantrasinging. It is called "Mantras - Prayers of Silence".

BTW, it has been twenty years that I have not been in India until this February, when I went to New Delhi to play with the "Celtic Raga Band" of Chinmaya Dunster. I will tell you more about this recent trip and the concert in another post. Right now I would like to share with you some more thoughts about Yoga. The following is an excerpt of the liner notes of my CD:

Yoga means much more than body exercises. It is a practical philosophy, which has been developed in India already in very ancient times. It coveres all aspects of human life and maintains the idea, that men and women are able to reach the highest state of consciousness by consequently following a spiritual practice.  There are mainly five branches in Yoga:

1.Raja Yoga: the path of meditation and spiritual exercise
2.Karma Yoga: the path of the right action
3.Jnana Yoga: the path of proper understanding
4.Bhakti Yoga: the path of devotion
5.Hatha Yoga: the path of body practice

Those different branches are not strictly separated from each other. And more or less in all of them there is a place for music. This is most obvious in Bhakti Yoga, where singing and chanting is an important way of showing devotion to a Diety or to the Guru. But also the meditation on sounds like "OM" or on Mantras (sung or spoken sanskrit verses) is an important discipline, mainly as a part of Raja Yoga. There is also "Nada Yoga" - a path of exploration of consciousness through sounds. Another tradition is "Nadopassana" (dedication to music), where music is used and seen as a prayer to God. And then there is Nataraj-Yoga, where dance is used as a spiritual practice, of course accompanied by musical instruments.

It even could be said that the complex system of Indian classical music - one of the richest and most highly developed musical traditions of the world - is clearly rooted in the spirital context of Indian religious traditions. It is obvious that music can be a great contribution to any kind of practice in the realm of Yoga traditions. Already the overtone-rich sounds of Indian instruments have an uplifting and healing effect. And the system of the Ragas (the musical "modes" of Indian music) forms a highly developed musical framework in which all aspects of human life - spiritually and worldly - have their place. The first aim of the Ragas is - generally - to bring everything into balance with the help of musical harmony.

Greetings to all!!!
Sangit Om

PS: feel free to leave your comment and/or subscribe (this means you will be notified whenever I post something new here)!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dear music lovers,

here we go into the world of blogging! After 14 newsletters distributed and hosted through groups.yahoo.com I have finally decided to use a more up-to-date format for my "NEWS". I think blogging is much more flexible and offers a lot of possibilities. And I thought, why not start with a review of some of my year 2009 activities?

We all know: LOVE makes the world go round! So I have released a new SANGIT OM CD at OREADE called "Songs from the Heart". This is a compilation of 11 traditional lovesongs from 8 different countries. They are all recorded as instrumentals, mainly featuring my various flutes. The CD starts with "Down By The Sally Gardens", played on an Irish tin whistle and ends with "Wan Wagninkte", a traditional song from the Lakota Red Indians. Click here for more information and for sound examples.

I have had the great pleasure to take part on a wonderful CD with the Austrian singer and multi-instrumentalist Susanne Heilmayer. This double-CD with the title "Simsalabim Bamba Saladu Saladim" is simply outstanding. It contains 50 (!) children songs. They all come with very creative arrangements, and it is great fun to listen to all those songs. I am playing several instruments: the bansuri (bamboo flute) the Cretan lyre, the Greek Baglama and... I am singing (I think this is the first time in my career!). Oh... and I should not forget my dog "Mayla". She is barking, howling and rhythmically panting on one of the songs (she is a very talented Bernese Mountain Dog).

And then there is the well known Dutch new age composer Guy Sweens. He had asked me if  I would like to play bamboo flute on one of his tracks, and of course I did! His latest CD "The legend of Ganesha" has been released in March 2009 and I played on the track called "Universal Parents", you can listen to a part of the track, order CDs and learn more about Guy here. The whole CD is carrying the spirit of India in a very fascinating way.

I think this is enough for now, I will let you know more about my recent activities, e.g. my debut in the Bollywood film industry. So, let's stay in touch and don't hesitate to leave a comment (one of the beauties of blogging). And please subscribe (if you have not already done) and you will automatically be kept updated on all the SANGIT OM news. Until then, if you are interested in "old news" you can sift through my newsletters of the past decade at Yahoo.com.

Thank you for your patience
lots of love
Sangit Om