Ahead of the Hindu festival of Guru Purnima, UK-based musician and composer Rakesh Joshi – Artistic Director of the Bharatiya Vrund Gaan – has organised an enthralling evening of music, dance and spirituality.
The event, to be held at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall London in July, will see a vibrant celebration of Indian culture, music and spirituality.
iGlobal caught up with Rakesh Joshi to find out more about the event, his connection with spirituality and his inspirational musical journey.
What was the inspiration for this Guru Vandana programme?
The event will focus on celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of my personal spiritual guru, Sri Aurobindo, and also the 125th birth anniversary of my other guru Sri Rang Avdhoot Maharaj. At the same time, however, it is also very much about respecting all the gurus in our lives; may it be spiritual gurus, music gurus, dance gurus or the gurus from the rich history of India.
Since childhood, I have been singing bhajans and bhakti sangeet [devotional songs]. That always gives me so much peace and connectivity with the divinity. It has helped me feel closer to my inner self and has inspired me to compose new harmonies, new symphonies and new choir songs. I'm very thankful to both of my gurus and, of course, to my parents, who are my first guru. It is because of them that I came in touch with my spiritual gurus and music as a whole.
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What can we expect at the concert?
It is very exciting! We have an amazing mix of Indian and Western musicians who we will be working together and accompanying me.
There are freelance string players trained in viola, cello and harp and Indian instruments like veena, santoor [hammered dulcimer], bansuri [flute], mohan veena [Hindustani slide guitar] and I will be playing the grand piano and harmonium.
As well as 15 choir singers, we also have a very special dance performance based on ‘Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol’ a mystic poem by Sri Aurobindo based on the story of Satyavaan and Savitri.
It has been brilliantly choreographed by Mrs Usha Raghwan, a dance teacher from London and they will dance to live music.
The dance is also something we are trying for the first time, and I am looking forward to seeing it live!
The auditorium can accommodate nearly a thousand people and we have already sold nearly half of the capacity. So we are expecting a house full!
What influence has Sri Aurobindo had in your life?
I came to know about Sri Aurobindo when I was 15 and his explanation about spirituality, music and its interconnection with light and that really helped me transform my music and life. His explanation about the divine consciousness, the supreme being and the human consciousness helped me in music. I'm fortunate to have had both Sri Aurobindo and The Mother as the spiritual gurus of my life. The Mother has also been a big influence in my life and music.
In 2001, I started my first Indian ensemble orchestra called 'Raga Jyoti' with Sri Aurobindo's special message, ‘Light Beyond Millennium’
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Can you expand on the influence of The Mother on your music?
The Mother was a spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo, and she led his work in Pondicherry. The mother is believed to be Goddess Jagdamba herself and there are four aspects to The Mother: Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, Mahasarawati and Maheshwari.
Inspired by these four aspects, I have specially composed four new compositions which I'll be performing at the ‘Guru Vandana’ for the first time, as well as other instrumental and ensemble pieces as always.
*Info: Guru Vandana