An article about ‘Songs of the Soul’ by Daniel Rubin
It’s a long way from Europe to New Zealand. For those living up in the northern hemisphere and Oceania-bound, it’s a 28 or 35-hour plane ride, chasing the moon through a long restless night, tossing about in an economy class seat and flying south across the equator and the vast black Pacific before finally touching down to a sunrise in faraway New Zealand.
So we were very happy when some thirty-five European and UK members of the touring Songs of the Soul entourage chose to do just that – musicians and technicians descending upon Auckland for the first of this popular concert series ever to be held in our part of the world, the first of six performances in Australasia.
We seldom have visitors – so how delightful to welcome our weary travelers. In Christchurch around 300 people came to the first concert at the fantastic new hall, ‘The Piano’, then over 400 to our free concert in Auckland at the Dorothy Winstone Centre on November 7th. And so many accolades from the audiences, among whom were city mayors, music luminaries, interfaith representatives, yoga teachers, sporting greats, media – everyone loved the concerts!
Songs of the Soul is a polished and well thought out presentation of the music of spiritual master Sri Chinmoy. Poet, artist, author, musician and one of India’s most prolific composers ever, in more than 770 peace concerts Sri Chinmoy touched countless hearts with his simple, joyful, deep and powerful songs. Like many musicians, he saw music as a way of bringing people together, of fostering a more peaceful world.
In concert, Sri Chinmoy himself would often perform on dozens of instruments from around the world and was a maestro on the little known Indian stringed instrument, the esraj. In his lifelong dedication to fostering a more peaceful world, he saw music as a way of uniting people, music as a common language of the heart that transcended cultural divides and nationality. To his musically gifted students he said: “Give the world music that comes directly from the soul. Soulful music is the music that immediately elevates our consciousness to the Absolute, to the Highest. Soulful music is next to meditation, and it carries the beauty and fragrance of silence, the message of the inner and higher worlds.”
In ‘God the Supreme Musician’ he writes: “God has created a universal language, and that is music. The universe itself is music. Unfortunately, most of the time we do not hear the music of the universe. But in everything, if we can become aware of it, there is music. Everything in God’s creation embodies music. We can hear it only when we dive deep within.”
Performers made up a truly international cast: Zurich musician Mandu played the haunting Chinese Erhu, accompanied by his wife Visuddhi on harp beautifully; Heart of Joy were a group of young women offering vocal and instrumental arrangements with clarinette, cello, harmonium, guitar; Monk Party, an Auckland based duo, sang and played ancient Indian mantric songs influenced by kirtan devotional music; brilliant Viennese cellist Shamita Ackenberger teamed up with Auckland’s piano accordion maestro Toshala to play three immensely difficult, high velocity songs that thrilled the audience and sent a palpable ripple of delight around the concert hall; and a finale led by London pianist Sahadeva featured an all-male choir as a triumphant last act.
Interestingly, the concert program and the Master of Ceremonies requested the audience to refrain from all applause until the end of the evening – this led to a sustained meditative feeling throughout and the sense of the concert being interactive, performers and audiences together co-creating an experience of peace and stillness. Songs of the Soul was very much an inner journey, a glimpse into the realms that Sri Chinmoy often referred to.
“God is the Supreme Musician. It is He who is playing with us, on us and in us. We cannot separate God from His music. The universal Consciousness is constantly being played by the Supreme Himself, and is constantly growing into the Supreme Music. God the Creator is the Supreme Musician and God the creation is the supreme Music. The musician and His Music can never be separated. The Musician Supreme is playing his Music Supreme here in the universe.”
You can view Sri Chinmoy and his various disciple’s groups in concert at: https://www.radiosrichinmoy.org/. Another remarkable and very inspirational site worth visiting is the official website offering an overview of the life and accomplishments of the late Sri Chinmoy: https://www.srichinmoy.org/
More in the article in Indian NZ Outlook Dec 2016 Page 10.