Travel always widens us, inspires us, ushers in new insights and adventures – our recent tour of the UK proved the truth of this conclusively! Fourteen members of our a cappella music group, Oneness-Dream, have just concluded a seven-day tour around parts of England, visiting and performing in some of the great cathedrals and other fabled and sacred places – the impressive and grand cathedrals in London,Oxford, Cambridge, Wells, and Glastonbury among them.
Members of the international Sri Chinmoy Centres from ten different countries, we performed songs from a chosen repertoire of fifty compositions, all drawn from the vast musical legacy of the late composer/musician Sri Chinmoy. Travelling across these long inhabited hills and valleys was very interesting for a New Zealander like myself, for these are the landscapes of legend and fable and folklore and if you close your eyes, stop your thoughts, you can easily feel the breath of past millennia, the vanished generations, the long sweep of centuries.
Everywhere, scraps of history litter the green fields – castle ruins, cottages crumbling back into the earth, the rib cage of an ancient wooden boat, an overgrown path leading to a destination that has vanished, tiny graveyards of twos or tens with their granite memorials or slate headstones now moss-covered and indecipherable.
In a green field adjacent to the ruined monastery at Wells, I sat for a while by a small sign before the supposed grave of King Arthur and Lady Guinevere, those characters immortalised in countless historical tales – Lancelot; the knights of the Round Table; Merlin the magician – those great legends originating over 1500 years ago. And in the huge and splendid Ely Cathedral, its construction dating back to 673 AD, I felt overwhelmed by the astonishing grandeur of its architecture, its art and stunning beauty, the extraordinary achievements of its artisans and builders and the genius of its vision.
Our Oneness-Dream members are not professional singers but incorporate singing as part of their spiritual practice. We come from 14 countries – Finland, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Scotland, England, USA, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and Colombia – and each year meet together to share our love of music in temples, monasteries, ashrams, sacred places worldwide.
Oneness-Dream have recorded six CDs – In Vastness-Peace (2011), from a tour of the churches of Iceland; In Oneness-Light (2012), sung in the temples and pagodas of Myanmar; Oneness-Dream at Tarpan Studios (2016), recorded at Narada Michael Walden’s Tarpan Studios in San Francisco; and CDs from tours of churches and monasteries in Ireland (2016), Tuscany (2017) and Czech Republic (2018)
Sri Chinmoy saw music as a pure language of the heart, a pathway to meditation, an expression and revelation of the our innate spirituality. His songs, flowing from the depths and heights of meditation, are unadorned with harmony or accompaniment – just the purity, beauty, simplicity, intimacy and immediacy of word and melody.