Shammi Pithia and Hari Sivanesan at Southbank [26/07/11]
The evening of two halves was introduced by the Asian Music Circuit who curated the night’s performances. The first half of the show was a collaboration of two cultures – that of India and Cuba via London. Hari Sivanesan, a Veena player and Pirashanna Thevarajah, a thunderous Mridangam maestro both London born were joined by two wonderful musicians from Cuba, the much-admired Cuban violinist Omar Puente and percussionist Oscar Martinez.
This quartet unravelled a beautiful concoction of sounds that amalgamated the structure and discipline of the South Indian Carnatic style with the more playful jazz laced rhythms of Cuba. Contrary to what people may think, these two styles marry well. This is beautifully demonstrated on the track “Vio-Veena” (written by Puente) which as the name suggests was an exchange between the Violin and Veena, against a backdrop of Indian and Cuban percussion.
“Maa” (meaning Mother) was a commissioned piece (written by Hari) for the show, which as Hari described is about the message of the mother’s love through melody – representing a journey of lullabies from various cultures around the world.
A fabulous display of musical vigour!
After a short break, Shammi Pithia and his band FLUX were up … This was certainly a treat for the audience as they got to experience some of the tracks from his new EP “Paredolia” (OUT NOW). Shammi was joined on stage with some of the finest home grown musicians London has to offer:
- Michael Goodey on piano, guitar, synthesiser, sitar.
- Ian Newton-Grant drums, percussion
- Suroj Sureshbabu guitars
- Salima Barday double bass
- Preetha Narayanan violin
- Alice Barron violin
- Natasha Zielazinski cello
- Damien Langkamer electric bass
There were some magnificent renditions from his first EP “Cinema for the Ears” and debut album “Audio Descriptive” and a couple of FLUX tracks – The Seeker, Poem without Words, Overcome, Pacifist and Ajnabee Anjani, to name a few.
Singing on the night was a pool of talent: the very soulful Ambika Jois who showcased her tremendously powerful voice with such charisma. The classical vocalist Unnati Dasgupta, Urban/R’n’B artist Ash King and providing Hindustani classical vocals was the spectacular Jatanil Banerjee, who moved the crowd with Ajnabee Anjani.
What a second half! – the audience were certainly wowed, after the show there was a buzz in the atmosphere. The crowd’s reaction was a direct result of the hard work of bringing together 12 people (no easy task) and executing that show like it was a walk in the park. Watching them on stage was a brilliant, smiles and banter amongst the musicians made the set more enjoyable to experience!
I’ve been following Shammi’s music since the release of his first EP and the progress he has made is outstanding. He is certainly building a solid name for himself as a composer/producer and multi-instrumentalist. As I tweeted on the night “Composers when in their element must be connected to the divine. It requires a certain level of genius to achieve this” and that is Shammi!
My respects go out to all the musicians and singers who performed on the night … it was a night of epic proportions!
*Thanks to Kabir Gobin for providing the video footage.
Mysterious Duality | Multifaceted Voices of the Veena
Dr, Jayanthi Kumaresh found herself communicating to different people in different ways, she explains “When you talk to your son, husband, teacher, colleague, or your student, with each role, your intonation changes so much. So I thought, ‘Why not make the veena do this?”
This epiphany transformed into Mysterious Duality. It represents an exploration of the splendour of classical Carnatic music, showcasing the many overtones, unique resonances, and dozens of strings of the awe-inspiring elegance of the veena.
The tracks on this album tap into the deep knowledge of Carnatic music’s system allowing reinterpretation of the rhythmic cycles (tala) and melodic patterns (raga) providing a lush expedition through classical music.
Indian music has this treasure house of melodies, or ragas that are created using a particular set of notes in particular order. Scales don’t become ragas until they have life breathed into them,” Jayanthi notes. “But that creativity has a boundary, as well as a particular emotion. It’s as if you have three colors to use in a painting. You can still paint anything you want, even if you only use three colors.
The tonal richness of the Veena in multiple layers embedded layer within layer, becomes the voice of the self, and expresses the multiple personalities that are inherent in a person and the ceaseless thoughts that make the Self: the individual, a single mind, a single heart, a million thoughts in tandem, multiple roles, a different persona in each relationship.
The resonance of each of the many strings of the seven veenas used come together in harmonious musical synergy, and the mysterious dualities of a single existential entity emerge.