Sacred Songs of Hindus on March 1 in Brookline

Sacred Songs of Hindus and Jews on March 1 in Brookline
BROOKLINE, MA– Deepti Navaratna and Cantor Randall Schloss will perform an intriguing mix of Jewish and Indian Music on March 1 in Brookline, MA, as part of the Boston Jewish Music Festival. The event will held on Sunday from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm at Montague Chapel located at 1187 Beacon Street in Brookline.The concert is part of Carnatic Alchemy Project’s upcoming interfaith series with Carnatic music — •The Dialogues with the Divine’. On this occasion, Navaratna talked about this unique music program with INDIA New England News. 

Navaratna is known for her •particularly lovely and bewitching voice’ and rare mix of classical wisdom, expressivity and virtuosity. From South Indian classical repertoire to avant garde contemporary compositions, she displays a unique versatility that is distinctly her own. Deepti is the first South Indian classical musician to be awarded a merit scholarship and cash prize to study World Music and Contemporary Improvisation at the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music. 

Here are the unedited excerpts from the online interview with Navaratna.

Question: Who is the organizer of this event?
Deepti Navaratna:
 This particular concert is being produced by the Boston Jewish Music Festival, which was started six years ago by two music lovers, Jim Ball and Joey Baron. BJMF’s attendance has reached over 30,000 and they have produced events at concert halls, night clubs, synagogues, and churches across Greater Boston. 

Joey Baron’s comments on the theme of this year’s festival •Without question, this year’s festival theme of Music Builds Bridges with more multi-cultural events is receiving a wonderful response. People are impressed by the diversity and quality of this cross-cultural musical collaboration.’ 

Jim Ball’s comments on the motivation behind the festival: “It’s been a labor of love for both Joey and me—and, we both hope, an event of love for the entire community”. 

Q: How long the program will continue?
 This concert is the first of the series of interfaith concerts with Carnatic music. In the summer and Fall there will be similar Hindu-Sikh, Hindu-Buddhist and Hindu-Islamic concerts focusing on conversations with sacred music from both traditions. Hence the name of the series — •Dialogues with the Divine’. 

Q: How did you get involved with this project?
 As a singer of sacred music interested in taking my music beyond traditional boundaries through my cultural entrepreneurship initiative – The Carnatic Alchemy Project, I was aware that sacred texts were deeply entrenched in symbolic meanings relevant only to certain communities. Given this constraint, I wanted to explore if sacred music could be used to create dialogues that transcend them? Dialogues with the Divine – is a series of concerts where we invoke imageries of the divine across world religions, thereby enabling us to transcend religious, spiritual, and cultural boundaries to be united in a singular spiritual experience. 

Q: What will you be performing?
 Cantor Randall Schloss and I will present songs and sacred text, which are linked – thematically, musically and spiritually. An Indian version of •Dror Yikra’, a Hassidic •Halleluia’ with melismatic raga improvisation, a pairing of Hindu Vedic text with a Jewish prayer will be featured in this concert. This act of learning the text, music and musical semantic of Jewish culture has enhanced my respect for the rich tapestry of musical sounds that connects us all. 

Q: Is there any other Indian performer there?
DN: No other Indian performers as part of the main concert. I am happy to be joined by a team of fabulous world musicians – David Sparr (Piano), Layth AlRubaye (Violin), Gilbert Mansour (Percussion) as we explore new sound configurations together. 

However, we have a chorus ensemble of Indian teenagers performing a Jewish melody as the grand finale of the concert. The participants are Isha Khanzode (sarod), Sunthriiwi Venkat (Voice), Hamsaa Kumar (voice), Meghna Kumar (voice), Inesh Vytheswaran (Mridangam), Srujal Ambati (voice) and Dylan Mattews (Voice). 

We have singers, a mridangam player and a budding Sarod maestro — quite an eclectic ensemble I must say! Our community has responded very well to this idea and we look forward to their participation in our future interfaith events as well.

Q: Has this concept have been tried before?
DN: There have been many interfaith events before, but to the best of my knowledge, this is the first of its kind involving multiple communities, taking back music to places of worship (synagogue, gurudwara, monastery etc.) and creating a new body of work that enmeshes sacred music from world traditions into new music.

Q: Have you participated in such inter-religious musical programs before?
DN: This has been my first experience in such an inter-religious context.

Q: What else you have to say about this unique program?

DN: I would like to thank Cantor Randall Schloss and the Temple Ohabei Shalom for partnering in producing this concert. Cantor Schloss began his journey into the world of Jewish music as a singer and composer. In 2006, he composed his first extended setting of Shabbat evening liturgy, Avodat Hayom, combining traditional liturgy and modern poetry with musical elements of eastern European nusach and chazzanut, Israeli and Sephardic folk music, classical and twentieth century Reform repertoire and contemporary pop and jazz. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music from Cornell University in Ithaca and a Master of Music Degree in Vocal Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music. It has been my privilege to have worked with such a versatile and scholarly musician, hope to collaborate with him in the future as well.