appreciate the meaning of peace, you need to be on
the West Bank or in Croatia or Kashmir or the war-torn countries of
Ahimsa is the noble concept of not inflicting any
physical harm on anyone, not even your worst adversary. Ricardo Barrantes, a Peruvian musician
intensely involved with this theme, has roped in K J
Yesudas to sing about ahimsa.
in Peru, Lima, studied music in the Peruvian Conservatory and later
in the University of California. He has a special interest in
establishing dialogue between diverse
project happened is an interesting story. Barrantes heard Yesudas
and wanted to make the vehicle of his essay.
fact, Barrantes met Yesudas
in New York, where the Karnatak musician had a concert. He walked up to
Yesudas and asked him, "Will you sing for me?"
Yesudas thought Barrantes wanted him to give one more Karnatak
concert. He was surprised when Barrantes told him of his vision. It
took a while for the project to evolve, but finally it came to
fruition with half the recording being done in California and half
in Chennai. A East-West meet indeed!
The production, presented
at the Music Academy, Chennai, on April 13, was dramatic. The
CD Ahimsa (available in cassette form too) has songs by Yesudas
in Sanskrit, Latin and English. On stage, some compositions were played
from the CD while Jesudas sang some others live.
Barrantes introduced his production saying that Ahimsa was the way
for the world to progress from strife to peace. He was all praise
for the "extraordinary talent" of Yesudas.
Yesudas spoke of how he enjoyed
the new experience of singing in strange languages.
fell into two patterns. One was the playing of the CD to the
accompaniment of dances choreographed to suit the words,
and the other was the live singing. Yesudas was not dressed in his
customary Indian clothes but had chosen for the occasion white
trousers, shirt and a surplice-like overcoat with glittering
buttons. He looked like an evangelist!
music began with the first song Hari
, a prayer to god Vishnu, who being a
force of protection, is a natural patron of
number in Latin and Sanskrit was Misere karuna
to mercy and compassion. It was a soulful number and brought out the best
of fusion music. It also featured a swarakorvai.
The third was
an English number, Ahimsa,
rendered live by Yesudas. What
followed was a number recalling the message of love given by
Rabindranath Tagore and the 14th century German
mystic Thomas Kempis. Before beginning this Yesudas said the
composition had a complicated beat but he was able to get around it thanks
to his knowledge of the 108 talas of Karnatak
Next came a
song on Atta apu
which draws on the folklore
of Andean spirits and the wizard Shaman. The choreography for
this number was the only noteworthy piece of dance in the evening.
The rest of the choreography was immature in conception and hollow
in execution. It did little to add value to the music. The dance was
by Vidya Bhavani Suresh and her students.
ended with two other number, Beauty all around and Sari
. The latter was an Indian folk tune that was particularly