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           News flash:
Yesudas, S P Balasubramanyam and Chitra have been invited to sing at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Also expected on stage: M S Subbulakshmi, Jagjit Singh and Asha Bhosle. Date: not announced yet



Quick links:

Pop peace: review of the album Ahimsa

Yesudas at 60: Sugandhi Ravindranathan's


Ahimsa at the
Music Academy 


Yesudas presents a multimedia show in Chennai, with Ricardo Bararantes, the Peruvian who made the Ahimsa album, and a group of dancers

Yesudas: a long journeyTo truly appreciate the meaning of peace, you need to be on the West Bank or in Croatia or Kashmir or the war-torn countries of Africa.

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.

Barrantes, born 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 cultures.

How this project happened is an interesting story. Barrantes heard Yesudas and wanted to make the vehicle of his essay. In 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.

Ricardo 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.  

The concert 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!

The music began with the first song Hari , a prayer to god Vishnu, who being a force of protection, is a natural patron of Ahimsa.

The second number in Latin and Sanskrit was Misere karuna translating 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 music.

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.

The evening ended with two other number, Beauty all around and Sari sari . The latter was an Indian folk tune that was particularly refreshing.

Ambujam Anantharaman

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