Thank you for the warm welcome that the Pavaka Heart Band received in Belarus in Russia! We held concerts for over 1000 people in Brest, Minsk, Smolensk, Moscow, Tver and St-Petersburg. It was great to share the vibe embodied in Sri Chinmoy’s music and it was great to meet so many lovely people! The band consisted of Yuri (Belarus), Rostam, Mahavrata, Sergey (Russia) and Pavaka (Canada).
The next concerts in the Songs of the Soul concert series will take place in Ottawa on October 5th and Montreal October 7th. These concerts are free of charge, but we ask that you reserve your seats in advance. Both concerts will feature Sangit Surabhi, The Pavaka Ensemble as well as The Sahadeva Orchestra. Sahadeva hails from London England and will lead an English-Canadian group to perform his soulful arrangements of Sri Chinmoy‘s music. Sahadeva’s arrangements are charactarized by jazz, R&B and gospel styles and these performances have been delighting audiences at Songs of the Soul concerts for the past 4 years. Sahadeva is also keyboardist and vocalist for the group Ananda.
The concert in Ottawa on October 5th will take place at 7pm the Centertown United Church at 507 Bank Street. Call 613 680 5727 for information or to reserve your seats.
In Montreal on October 7th, it will take place at 7pm at the Tanna Schulich Hall of McGill University located at 527 Sherbrook Street West. Call 514 387 5814 or 514 489 5692 for info and reservations.
This is the song Roar, Roar My Lion Heart, from the live recording CD entitled “Call Has Come”:
The musical groups Sangit Surabhi from Ottawa and The Pavaka Ensemble from Montreal will present a concert of music for meditation on Sunday July 6th at 4:30pm at the Atwater Library situated at 1200 Atwater Ave., Westmount, Québec H3Z 1X4.
After touring Europe, Canada and the US, these two groups want to share their meditative experience with a Montreal audience. Participants will be invited not to applaud between songs and to simply meditate while listening to the music. Seating will be on regular chairs. No prior meditation experience is needed. The concert will last approximately 90 minutes. All music performed will be arrangements of compositions by spiritual master Sri Chinmoy.
This concert is offered free of charge as a community service by the Sri Chinmoy Meditation Centre of Montreal. No reservations are needed.
Last September saw the Songs of the Soul series head off to Portugal. On the bill were Alap, Ananda, Mandu and Visuddhi, Sangit Surabhi, Kanala and Sadanand, Pavaka’s group and Sahadeva’s Orchestra. For this tour Sangit Surabhi was composed of 7 Canadians and 1 Dutch girl to make this (I believe) the highest CanCon* for a Songs of the Soul tour so far. Pavaka’s group consisted of Christian from Austria, Dave from the UK and myself. Dave is one of my favourite guitarists out there and this was the first time we were able to collaborate. I was thrilled! Dave’s main gig is as the guitarist for Ananda. Christian is an excellent vocalist, former member of the Vienna Boys Choir and we have a few tours under our belts now. I also had the opportunity to play bass for Sahadeva’s Orchestra offering soulful, R&B flavoured arrangements of Sri Chinmoy‘s music.
The tour led us from Lisboa to Coimbra, Aveiro and Porto. For each evening we met very receptive and good-sized audiences. I think the biggest crowd was 600 in one of the smaller cities. It felt really nice to be able to offer a peaceful evening to all of these people. You can certainly feel a sense of struggle in a country that’s battling a 16 or 17% unemployment rate. But there is a richness to the culture and to the history of this country that reassures. You can literally see all the time that has passed in the buildings and monuments, so it gives you a sense that struggles are a passing thing and that there are more victories for humanity ahead.
This was also the tour where the concerts started latest! It was quite surprising, even to other Europeans on the tour. Most evenings we started at 9…ish. It’s like the audiences waited for the concert to start before actually coming in. It made a few from our group a little antsy at first but in the end it always worked out just fine and the crowd was very appreciative. It was a little like getting used to the Mongolian audiences who would come and go and chit-chat during the concert, then leave glowing comments about how they loved the evening.
All in all, it was another lovely tour and I for one am very grateful to our dedicated, warm-hearted and open-hearted Portuguese hosts. Obrigado!
p.s.: There is a slideshow of the tour on You Tube – click here.
*term used by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to designate Canadian Content
The Pavaka Ensemble will perform in Ottawa on the evening of December 1st, 2013. For more info, click here.
p.s. There is a photo blog about the last tour in Portugal in the works. Check back here soon.
There is finally a little of this music on YouTube should anyone be interested. They are simple travel slideshows with album versions of Niyo Mita and Jago Jananir. Click on either of these song titles to have look.
Hopefully there will be more of these in the not-too-distant future.
Full streaming is still available at Bandcamp.
(all photos here are by Dimitris from Athens)
This past June 2013 saw the team for the Songs of the Soul concerts travel to beautiful Italy. We gave 5 meditative concerts in 4 cities, as usual, free of charge to the public as a community service. The first of which was in the eternal city of Rome in the Teatro Sala Umberto which is right in the middle of the old city. We were just 1 or 2 blocks from the Fountain of Trevi, for example (which came in handy if you needed to get rid of coins jangling around in your pockets during soundcheck). It was exciting to play in the heart of this unparalleled city. Exact numbers for each of the concerts are not available currently but estimates are between 300 and 500 for each concert.
The following day, at the car rental company, we had reserved a “Ford Focus Station Wagon or similar”, but as they were out of Fords, we had no choice but to accept the BMW station wagon that they offered us (at the same price). As they say in Italy: La vita e bella (which means something like “life is rough”, I think). So into the Beamer we went and off to Florence for the second concert. As with all our concerts, this was a very nice soft-seater theatre. We also got a chance to visit this beautiful city.
Padova was probably my favourite because it was a smaller city and the tourism somehow seemed more mellow and spiritual – mostly on account of Saint-Anthony, apparently. Padova is also a university town so it carries that fresh excitement-with-life-in-general that bright young adults carry with them. The interest was great enough in this city that we played 2 concerts. One at 6pm and one at 8:30pm. The concert hall was in fact held in a university auditorium, the Multisala Pio X.
Finally, we ended up in Milan where our concert was literally across the square from the famous Duomo Cathedral. I didn’t get a chance to go inside the Duomo, but it sure is impressive from the outside.
The italian audiences were very nice and appreciative. As usual the masters of ceremony asked that audiences hold their applause until the end of the concert in order to maintain the meditative quality of the evening.
I had the honour and privilege to play with Parichayaka and Christian once again. Other performers for this tour included: Alap, Agnikana’s Group, Pure Joy (from Italy), Mandu and Visuddhi, Shamita and Bhoiravi, Paree’s Group and Sahadeva’s Orchestra as the finale.
Grazie Mille Italia!
In November of 2012, the Songs of the Soul team was invited to give 3 concerts in Budapest and 1 in Szeged, Hungary. This was a very enjoyable series from the performer side of things because it didn’t require too much moving around. The first three concerts were in the same auditorium of Mom Kulturális Központ with our hotel just across the street. That means that we could really get to know the hall and perfect the performances. Performers were Blue Flower, Paree’s Group, Arthada and Friends, Mandu and Visuddhi and Sahadeva’s Orchestra. I was very happy to be joined by Parichayaka and Christian for these concerts. I thought that Blue Flower, which is a female ensemble from the former Yugoslavia, was particularly good on this tour. Each of the concerts in Budapest attracted about 600 people.
The concert in Szeged, which is approximately 3 hours from Budapest also saw about 600 attendees. That venue was called Rendezvényközpont.
I had been to Hungary before, but this time allowed for a little more sightseeing which I appreciated. Budapest is filled with history, and it was nice to be able to discover that. One highlight was visiting the Turkish baths which were built by the Turks (good name for them, then…) during the Ottoman Empire starting in the 1500’s.
Thanks to the organizers and to audiences!
When I was invited to go to Mongolia, my first inclination was to decline because it was just too far to travel. Plus, I didn’t think I would ever take it upon myself to visit that part of the world. This last reason not to go ended up being one of the big reason to go, actually. What a neat and original destination for a Canadian. In any case I really enjoyed my time there and was very happy to have undertaken that journey. Mongolia is a very unique and fascinating part of the world. A former world power, shrunken and squeezed in between the more recent world powers of Russia and China. All the while maintaining it’s own smiling individuality.
Our Songs of the Soul concerts took us to the cities of Erdenet, Darkhan and the capital Ulaanbaatar. These concerts were not really any different from the meditative concerts that we’ve been offering free of charge in the so-called Western World. The only real difference I would say is that audiences in Mongolia have a more casual approach to concert-going. The Mongolians are comfortable chatting and coming and going during concerts, but will be very enthusiastic and appreciative with their applause and feedback at the end of the concerts. It reminded me of attending a concert by Rezwana Chowdhury Bannya, one of the biggest names in Bengali music where the audience was almost entirely Bengali and behaving in a similar way.
Mongolia is not on the path of most western tourists, so the crowd was quite ethnically homogeneous, which was interesting. I don’t think about it at home, but clearly I am used to a seeing people from diverse backgrounds around me. I think that both environments have their charm.
Mongolia, and especially the capital Ulaanbaatar is otherwise full of paradoxes and juxtaposition. It is quite common to find the traditional nomadic dwellings of yurts right in the city next to modern high-rise buildings.
Aside from the concerts we did get a chance to do the national activity of horseback riding. We also got to visit lots of Genghis Khan sites including a brand-new gargantuous metal statue that stands 40 metres tall in the middle of Steppes somewhere. In the West we are often given the impression that Mr. Khan was a rampaging barbarian. I suppose you would put it that way if a conqueror had come right into your backyard and camped out for a while. At the peak of their empire, the Mongols had gone as far West as occupying what is currently Ukraine. In present-day Mongolia, Genghis Khan is revered as a great ruler and administrator, and it is true that, a mindless barbarian could not have conquered and administered such a massive territory without some serious intelligence and skill. That’s all the historical editorialism I will permit myself for the moment, but it was fascinating to learn what I could while I was there.
The local Mongolian hosts and organizers were fantastic and it was really great to meet true spiritual brothers and sisters who practice meditation in what seems like a remote part of the Earth. I for one am grateful to have had this opportunity and I hope that the audiences appreciated the music.
I performed with Christian for this tour (former member of the Vienna Boys Choir). Other performers were a local Mongolian Boys Group along with Paree’s International Singers, Agnikana’s Group, Mandu and Visuddhi, Shamita and Sahadeva’s Orchestra.