Welcome to Monsoon-Music's Blog
We are proud to share with you a collection of photos, slideshows, videos, and stories of our recent adventures, both at home in Toronto and throughout our extensive travels and tours of India. Please take your time to read through the many entries and follow the links to see even more galleries of photos and videos. We would also love to hear from you so please leave a comment for everyone to see and/or send us an email @ firstname.lastname@example.org. Please don't forget to visit our website www.monsoon-music.com
• Namaste, Andrew, Jonathan & Justin •
Adventures Across India - TravelPod
Kolkata (Calcutta), India
After 'A Whirlwind of Tours', Jonathan and I (Andrew) returned to Kolkata with our girlfriends Shayna & Delia for a month of music, concerts, local trips and exploring this wonderful city. A few highlights in April which can been seen in the slideshows below were:
• Pizza Parties with Mitra (our Gurujee's daughter and our 'little sister'). It was Mitra's summer holidays so we found ourselves enjoying each others company playing board games, drawing and working on summer school projects, and of course making our own home made pizza!
• Celebrating my (Andrew) birthday with Gurujee and the family. We enjoyed some wonderful food, music, gifts, and a group meditation.
• An IPL (Indian Premier League) Cricket match at Eden Garden, one of the world's oldest and largest cricket stadiums.
• Monsoon:Duo (Saxophone Brothers)'s performance with Bickram Ghosh for the grand opening of 'Nirvana', a hip and hot new club in one of Kolkata's newest 5 start hotels.
• Some of the pre-monsoon storms, which were a welcome relief of the intense heat that built through the entire month of April; the advent of the Kolkata summer is intense to say the least. The rain brings relief from the heat, but in turn also brings more humidity and mosquitoes to our swampy and sometimes flooded neighbourhood.
Kolkata Memories Slideshow
We made a trip to the famous town of Shantiniketan, the home of Rabindranath Tagore's cultural Ashram, where he founded Rabindra Bharati University. Shantiniketan, literally meaning "the abode of peace" is known as the Bengal's prime centers of art and culture. Gurujee was asked by the university to perform at the Bengali New Year celebration, the major event and concert of the year; so we all travelled together to attend his concert. We then stayed on for a few days to explore the town, meet and interact with local musicians, artists, students and professors, and enjoy the pleasant climate and people in and around Shantiniketan.
At the end of April, Delia and I (Andrew) embarked on an epic journey which covered a large portion of North and the East Coast of India. We were joined by our friend Nina for almost 4 weeks of this journey, and the main portion of our trip which followed the route of the holy river Ganges from it's source deep in the himalayas all the way to Kolkata and the Bay of Bengal. Below you'll find a slideshow from each of the cities/places we visited, as well as a few videos. I'll try not to write too much, but there are surely some great stories that must be shared.
The first stop on our trip was Rajasthan. I've been there a couple times before; you can see some of our previous visits' photos from 2011 (Link) and 2012 (Link). I wanted to share the beautiful and romantic city of Udaipur with Delia as our first stop and then explore new territory by visiting the capital of the Rajasthan, the city of Jaipur.
Rajasthani Dance Performance Video
Camel Drive By Video
Rajasthani Horses and Wedding Band Video
We left Rajasthan and headed to New Delhi to receive Nina at the Airport. Our first stop on the itinerary was a day trip to Agra; home of the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. Since I have been there 3 times before, I took on the job of tour guide and tried my best to inform the girls of this famous place's history and importance. I think we all would have learned more to spend the 100 Rupees on an official guide, but despite not having a knowledgable guide we all had a wonderful time exploring these places and taking hundreds of photos.
In our few days in New Delhi we visited some of the main attractions India's capital has to offer, including: Qtab Minar, Akshardam Temple, Old Delhi & Chawndni Chowk, The Jama Masjid and Conaught Place. One story that can't be left out was my experience getting robbed in Chawndi Chowk!!! This place is notorious for pickpockets and luckily I was aware of this fact enough to catch the guy who opened my sidebag's zipper and grabbed my iPod Touch!! I pointed the guy out of the crowd and accused him of stealing my things to which he fully denied, until upon further inspection by a host of local shop keepers, when we found it in his trousers!! My iPod was returned to me and the man was pretty intensely beaten by the locals, holding him there until the police came to deal with him in a professional and responsible manner, or so I thought!! This included bashing his feet with a large wooden staff and then beating him further while the locals held him down. Despite being robbed by this man, witnessing a host of large men slap and beat him certainly wasn't what I was expecting or believe is the best method of discipline. I tried to tell the men and policeman to stop, which fell on deaf ears, as this was certainly the typical method of dealing with criminals like this. When I thought more about the situation later, maybe getting a beating would actually teach him a lesson, where as taking him to a jail cell somewhere and then waiting for a trial and sentencing, etc. seems like maybe a waste of time and money when surely this sort of beating would have more of an impact and was immediate. The Policeman and locals around continuously asked me if I had gotten everything back and whether or not I was satisfied!! Quite a hard question to answer to say the least! The whole incident lasted about 20 minutes, most of which my heart was pounding and the adrenaline was pumping through my veins like never before!! I can truly say I've never, and hope to never again experience anything like that!! (Sorry, no photos or videos of those moments, but the following video was taken just minutes before the incident!!)
Chawdni Chowk Crossing (New Delhi) Video
New Delhi Slideshow
From New Delhi we headed up towards the Himalays to the holy city of Haridwar. We spent only a few hours there finding a travel agent and setting up a driver and car to take us deep into the world's largest mountain range. We were headed to Gomukh, the glacial source of the river Ganges, one of the four popular Char Dham pilgrimage sites in this area of India. In a trip that we thought we could complete in 4 days, it ended up taking a week as almost every step became delayed and took much longer than expected. Our first stop in the mountains was in Uttarakashi, where we stayed at the Sivanananda Ashram with Swami Premananda. Despite the wonderful hospitality, wisdom, and charm of Swamiji and the ashramites, here's a list of a couple problems we ran into there:
• Our driver ran over Delia's foot (no major or serious damage), and again then later into Nina's leg in the exact same manner as before; again, no major damage, except the smack I gave him for his idiocy!!
• My camera battery charger blew when I plugged it into the wall. I then spend the entire next day finding a cellphone repairs shop man who rigged up a make-shift charger for me, as there were no camera shops that offered a replacement charger.
• Getting our official park entry papers from the Forest office took a day (and then 3 hours) longer than we had hoped, which pushed back our journey to Gangotri by a day.
• Finally after making the 6 hour drive to Gangotri, we arrived too late to start our trek to Gomukh, in turn pushing our trek back by yet another day. That night we stayed in the Forest Check Post Ashram, an opportunity that seemingly isn't offered to tourists very often. One trade off of our situation that night, was the chance to see the opening Pooja (worship and offering ceremony) that happens once a year to open the pilgrimage season.
Our trek to Gomukh, despite being delayed by a few days of hurdles and hiccups, was truly one of most amazing experiences I've had in India and in my life. I'm sure Delia and Nina would agree. We spent a full day trekking 18 kilometers to Bhojwasa, the last place to stay before Gomukh. We stayed in the Lal Baba Ashram and just after our arrival a storm came in and it snowed!! We were only prepared for moderate weather and not the frigid conditions we were now faced with, but luckily there were lots of blankets, chai, and other fellow trekkers to keep our bodies and spirits warm. We actually met a whole group of Canadian students travelling together as a part of their religious studies program at the University of Quebec!! So on that day, deep in the Himalayan Mountain range there were more Canadians that anyone else!! Now at an altitude of almost 4000 meters (half of mount Everest!), we all felt the affects of the thin air and cold temperature. After a good night's rest, with only one interruption to use the toilet, which led to experiencing one of the finest night skies I have ever seen, we woke very early to start a truly epic day of trekking. A morning hike to the glacier and then a chilly dip into the holy waters was followed by hiking back to the ashram for lunch and then another 5 hours of hiking back down to Gangotri for a total 26kms and just over 50kms in three days. We stayed the night in the Forest Check Point Ashram and left the next morning for our longest day of driving that we would experience in our whole trip. We drove from 8am and arrived all the way down in Rishikesh at 7pm, almost 12 hours or straight mountain driving!! We had made it, safe and sound with only a few minor scrapes and bumps, only 4 days later than we had planned. As we would find out later (only two weeks ago now), a major rainstorm combined with the warm weather resulted in one of India's biggest natural disasters, which I'm sure you have all heard and seen on TV. The exact same roads and towns that we visited only two months ago have since been washed away, along with the lives of what people are now speculating to be over 10,000 lives lost. After experiencing the state of the roads and witnessing first hand various landslides that engulfed villages and part of the main road, I can only imagine the damage that this recent catastrophe would have cost. Our love and support goes out to all the families affected by this disaster and we can thank our lucky stars that didn't choose to visit this spiritual & beautiful, but also hazardous place a month later than we did.
Spending less time that originally planned in Rishikesh, we enjoyed staying at the Sivananda Ashram, rafting on the Ganges in the biggest rapids usually seen before they close for the season, and exploring the Maharishi Maharaj Ashram, the place where the Beatles came to stay during their 1968 trip to India. The ashram is now defunct, derelict and home to wandering and homeless sadhus who make their living by charging tourists money to enter the grounds!! Totally worth the 50 rupees as we explored this important place and tried to imagine what it might have been like when the Fab Four were here on their Transcendental Meditation journey over 45 years ago!!
From Rishikesh we travelled along the route of the Ganges to what is considered the oldest consistently inhabited city on earth, Varanasi. Also a major religious destination for Hindus, this ancient city is truly a must visit stop for anyone considering coming to India. As with many of the stops on our trip, I've been here before a couple times, but like everything in India, the opportunity to have your eyes opened is always there. Here we enjoyed exploring the ancient alleys that make up the oldest part of the city, walking along the riverside ghats and taking an early morning boat ride to witness the sunrise upon the thousands of people performing their daily routine of Yoga, Pooja, offerings, bathing, and swimming. We also visited Sarnath, an important site of the Buddhist religion, where the Buddha gave his first sermon to his first disciples after his enlightenment.
From Varanasi we travelled home to Kolkata for a brief 5 day stop over to catch up and spend some time with Jon & Shayna, Gurujee & the family, and share some of Kolkata's sights with Delia and Nina. While in Kolkata we visited the Kali Temple in Dakshineshwar (North Kolkata), where we met a lot of monkeys! We took a boat ride on the Ganges, went shopping in the dense markets of Gariahat, sat for some wonderful music with Gurujee, and tried our best to catch up on some R&R while in the comforts of our own home.
Ganges Swimming (Kolkata) Video
For the last portion of our trip with Nina, we decided to take a trip to Puri, the seaside town and home of the Jagannath Temple. Unfortunately, non-Hindus and westerners are not allowed inside the temple, so we spent most of our time enjoying the sea swimming, beachside, hotel swimming pool, tasty seafood caught fresh everyday from the sea, and fresh mangoes from the mango tree in the hotel courtyard!! We made a day trip to Konark on rented scooters, and visited the sun temple in the pouring rain, and eventually got caught riding home in very cold and dangerous weather on scooters with no lights and a lack of protection from the elements. We made it home safely despite being drenched and shivering, and quickly recovered with a warm shower and lobster dinner with fresh mangoes for desert!! As this was the last few days of Nina's trip in India, Delia and I said our goodbyes at the train station before her train journey to Kolkata, where she was flying home to Toronto from, and we continued on our journey south to Pondicherry.
After a 35 hour sleeper class train journey, Delia and I can say that we truly roughed it here in India. As the 3AC (air conditioned) class of train tickets that we had were 'waitlisted', we found out only an hour before our train that our tickets were not confirmed. We were stuck at a random train station in Orissa with no way to get where we needed to go!! So, with the advice of the attendant at the station, we waited for the our train to arrive and ran frantically to find the conductor to see if he could find us an empty berth on the train. The upper class sections were completely booked, so he sent us to the lower class section and said that they would find us a spot. The majority of people here in India travel in sleeper class as it is extremely affordable. (Our journey of 35 hours covering over 1000Km cost only 500Rs.=$10 each!!). However like most things in India which are under-regulated and over burdened by the demands of too many people, sleeper class is a free-for-all and can be quite an intimidating experience. As we just jumped on the train in hopes to be accommodated, Delia and I ended up sharing a single side bunk with all of our luggage, closely surrounded by more than 15 people who were sharing this tiny space; sleeping two or three to a bunk and even on the floor amongst the luggage, garbage, shoes, rodents, and insects!! We tried to get some sleep in our tiny little space before the conductor came and told us to move to two free bunks six train compartments down!! Not an easy transition with the amount of luggage we had to drag through a sea of people. We ended up sharing our new section of the train with a huge family including 3 young children who didn't mind causing a scene and making noise for most of the rest of the trip to Pondicherry. In the end, we made it without any major problems, and came out of our sleeper class experience feeling as though we had met and connected to the everyday Indians who make up the majority of the 1 Billion plus populated land.
The following slideshows cover our entire two week stay in the south of India in the month of June. Delia and I thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, exploring the various departments and experiencing the beautiful ashram life of the people living there. I've been there a few times before which you can check out our visit with my parents last year.
We spend 6 days in Auroville, one of the worlds leading examples of a city of universal ideals encompassing spirituality, communal living, alternative living, organic farming and food production, environmentally safe methods of building and design, and in general just an overall awesome place to be and/or live!! We spent our time exploring the yet to be developed areas of bush on our rented motorcycle, meeting interesting people from all over the world- living, visiting, working, and volunteering at the various centers throughout Auroville. This is truly an inspirational place and I urge you all to look into it more by checking out the following link: www.auroville.org
We made a two day side trip to Bangalore to visit our dear friend Biran-jetu (Uncle Brian) who brought the world famous K.C. Das sweet company there over 40 years ago. The Das family is one of the strongest supporters of Music, Art, and Culture, and having spent a great deal of time with them over the year we have been here in Kolkata, we always look for an excuse to visit and spend some time with our favourite uncle and sweet maker! We can't thank him enough for his kind generousity and hospitality offered to us while we were there. It gave me a chance to share with Delia the wonderful world of Bengali sweets and show here how they are made at the factory, which is attached to the home we were staying in.
We returned for a couple more days in Pondicherry, where we met Jonathan and Shayna along with Gurujee's Mother and spent a wonderful time celebrating her birthday at the Ashram with her other son, Dipankar, and his family. Delia's time here in India was quickly drawing to a close, so we packed our things and started on our long journey back to Kolkata. As our last sight seeing day we visited the Sea Shore Temple, and the impressive and oldest solid rock carved temples of Mamallapuram. We continued in our car to Chennai central rail station where we embarked on Delia's final train journey, a 28 hours train home to Kolkata.
Delia and I spent the last few days here in Kolkata together packing, picking up her final gifts for family and friends, enjoying some homecooked food as well as some great modern Bengali inspired restaurant food, and saying her goodbyes to Gurujee, his wife Durbadi and their daughter Mitra. Her four months here in India seemed to fly by, but in that time, we covered more of India than I could have imagined and gained stories and experiences to be remembered for a lifetime. I can't thank her enough for coming to travel with me here in India and for the amazing support and love she continuously shares.
We'd like to thank you all for reading and checking out all the photos. Your continuous support and interest is a huge inspiration for what we are doing over here and we love to hear from you. Please leave comments and write to us telling us what you've been up to and what you think of our studies and travels here in India.
Andrew, and the whole gang: Jonathan & Shayna, Delia & Nina, and Justin & Natalie
Kolkata (Calcutta), India
Since our last update, we've been travelling and touring all over the North of India. Jonathan and I have had some great opportunities to perform in some new places and visit some of our old favourite as well. I don't want to go on about each and every performance and trip, so I thought it would be better just to show you our adventures through some photos, slideshows and videos. Please scroll down, let the slideshows load and enjoy!!
Our first concert was a trip to Motihari, Bihar to play at the Champaran Festival. We took the train with our dear friend and Tabla accompanist Sudhir Ghorai to the northern edge of Bihar near the border of Nepal and arrived in Motihari; a city that is known for being the birth place of the great novelist George Orwell and for one of Gandhi's protest and fasts against the british rule. We performed for and audience of around 5000 people, most of whom had never seen a foreigner in the flesh and certainly never heard or seen a live saxophone. We played for almost 2 hours; performing a variety of compositions in 4 different Ragas and finished with some Indo-Jazz renditions of John Coltrane's music. All in all it was a wonderful experience and certainly an honour to perform at such a prodigious festival in Bihar.
Motihari Photo Slideshow
Shortly after arriving home to Kolkata Jonathan and I welcomed our girlfriends at the airport, Shayna who was coming for an extended period and Delia, who was coming to visit and travel for 4 months. We also welcomed our friend Lou Natale, a composer and musician from Toronto, and one of Shayna's friends, Tiffany who was passing through Kolkata for a few days. For almost a week, our little apartment was the home to double the normal occupancy. If we've learned anything here in India, it's that you can always fit more people in a space that we westerners are used to or comfortable with...it's all about compromise and tolerance. We were more than happy to host our friends and welcome our girlfriends to our Indian home and with a bit of a surprise turn, we were asked to travel to Hyderabad to perform at the Queen's Birthday Celebration hosted at the Taj Deccan by the British High Commission. Certainly a high class affair and a chance for people to gather and mingle amidst the pride of British industry; Rolls Royce, Mini, Richard Branson, and more....we were the entertainment for the night. We chose to perform our most recent adventure in Indo-Jazz; A tribute to the Great John Coltrane with our dear friend Subhojyoti Guha on tabla. We performed and presented a mix of Coltrane's late material which is most connected and suitable to India and Indian music, including 'My Favourite Things', 'Afro Blue', and 'A Love Supreme'.
Hyderabad Photo Slideshow
We returned from Hyderabad with only a few jam packed days to prepare for the major tour we had been organizing since arriving here in Kolkata this January. We had been asked by Scott Slessor, the Consul General of Canada here in India, to come and perform in Chandigarh and Shimla. Since our girlfriends had just arrived here in India, we included them on the tour and made plans to also visit some of our favourite places in the North West of India. You will see in the following slideshows the many wonderful places we visited on this three week tour of the Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.
First up was Shimla, the beautiful mountain town which used to be the summer capital of British India. We had the wonderful opportunity to perform at the Gaiety Theater, built in 1887 and restored to it's original shakespearean style. We had a wonderful audience who enjoyed our concert of Indian Classical music and Indo-jazz. Big thank you to Delia, who took all of our performance photographs during the tour with my Canon Rebel T4i.
Shimla Photo Slideshow
The next night we performed in Chandigarh at a college which is in affiliation with the Canadian University of the Fraser Valley. Performing a similar set of music as we did the night before, we received many wonderful comments after the concert from the music lovers and listeners, many of whom were Indians from Chandigarh who have lived in Canada for many years!!
Chandigarh Photo Slideshow
We had the great fortune to spend a few days with Justin's Aunt Geetika and Uncle Sheru, two wonderful people that have truly welcomed and hosted us here in India since our first steps on this land. We spent a few days at their home in Chandigarh sharing music and stories from our travels. On our last day with them, they took us to their farm near Ropar, a beautiful piece of land on the bank of a river. We spend the day enjoying the Eucalyptus and Turmeric grove, playing music in the shade and breathing in the clean and fresh air.
Ropar Farm Photo Slideshow
After saying our goodbyes and thank you's to Sheru and Geetika we jumped in a jeep and headed for one of our favourite places here in India, McLeodganj, near Dharamshala. We've been there almost every trip here in India and have been so lucky to be able to stay at Sheru and Geetika's amazing cottage just a 3km walk up the mountain road to the home of the Dalai Lama and Tibet's headquarters in Exile. We had just over a week to spend in this wonderful place, playing cricket with Hakim & Kusum's boys Jaideep & Ajay Deep at the cottage, trekking to the snow line, learning about the Tibetan plight, a Tibetan Buddhist Meditation course and of course browsing through the many many shops filled with unbelievable trinkets, cloth and other neat items. We also met up with our friend Lou there and shared a few meals with him and even set up an impromptu concert with some Tibetan musicians one night at a local hotel!! It was a wonderful time spent in the mountains and certainly not the last time we will travel there.
McLeodganj Photo Slideshow
On our journey down to Delhi from the mountains we stopped in Amritsar for the fastest lightning tour of the Golden Temple you could ask for. We sped through this holy complex filled with thousands of worshipping Sikhs and ate lunch with the thousands of other people who enjoy the free 24 hour food service offered by the temple. Before we knew it we were back at the train station and getting on our evening train to Delhi for a two day stay at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and to celebrate Holi!!
Amritsar Photo Slideshow
Prayer Wheels Video
We've spent the last few springs here in India and each year we've celebrated Holi in a different fashion; Two years ago in Kolkata with our Aunt Judy and Uncle Alastair, Jonathan and Al unknowingly enjoyed a potent dose of Bhaang Lassi (a drink made with Marijuana, Opium, Spices and Yogurt) while I enjoyed the local villagers Holi Gaan (songs celebrating the festival of colour). Last year our parents and sister Jennifer and her fiancee were with us and Gurujee's family here in Kolkata; we celebrated with a huge water and colour fight and then played Kabadi on our roof in the intense heat! So, like 5 years ago on our second trip here in India, we were back in Delhi to celebrate Holi and being Delia's first time, I knew I had take here out to experience this world famous festival of colour. Enjoy the photos below, many of which were taken with Delia's Olympus waterproof camera!!
Delhi Holi Photo Slideshow
Holi Colours, Dancing, & Music Video
We hope you have enjoyed browsing through our recent adventures.
Please come back to browse some more, and also stay tuned for further updates.
Andrew & Jonathan
TravelPod Blog Entry:
January 31st, 2013 - Kolkata, India
"Welcome to Concert Season"
Upon returning to Kolkata this year, Jonathan and I were thrown right into a musical whirlwind; a shift that we've experienced before and slowly it's becoming a bit easier to make the adjustment from West to East, and vice versa. We've gone back and forth now 5 times and have gotten used to Toronto and Kolkata as both being our homes, but now more than a culture shock we notice more the change of pace in lifestyle. Things at home in Toronto move quickly and efficiently, and like the weather right now, maybe with a bit of cold rigidness; where as here in Kolkata things move very slowly and sometimes very unorganized, yet always with a warmth and simplicity, like a school of fish in tropical waters. Both societies approach life very differently and wherever there are people, there will be culture and art that reflects their lifestyle. The music of both these incredible places inspires us in so many ways that we still always feel this cross-cultural journey leads to wonderful learning experiences.
Since coming back to Kolkata this year, Jonathan and I have had numerous opportunities to share music; as the Monsoon:Duo in Classical Raga performances, as well as The Saxophone Brothers in an Indo-Jazz set. We wanted to share with you some of these memorable concerts and give you a feel for what the music and culture we are immersed in is like. As the title states, this is the concert season here in Kolkata and we've found that there are countless concerts and festivals happening all over the city, many of which we don't even hear about until it's too late! We have already attended so many amazing and inspiring concerts by young talented musicians and maestros of the present generation. Concert season is when students and Raga connoisseurs from around the world all come to the city so concerts are great places to meet old friends and reconnect after many months and even years of pursuing our own paths around the globe.
Our first concert of the year was at the renowned and illustrious All Bengal Music Conference, a festival that has been running since 1934, opened by the India's most prolific and repsected poet/writer/composer Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, with performances by the great Guru Baba Allauddin Khan as well as Faiyaz Khan. Over the many years this festival, set in the courtyard of one of Calcutta's grand mansions in the heart of the old city, has featured the greatest of the great, and most of the Maestros of Indian Classical music including Pandit Kishan Maharaj, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ustad Amir Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar, and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan to name a few. It is also the stage in which many artists, most notably, Vilayat Khan debuted as youngster and gained the recognition that started their careers. We were so honoured to be asked to perform at this years festival and even more so to be accompanied by our dear friend Sudhir Ghorai on tabla and our dear 'Ma' (Gurujee's mother), who attended the concert and sat in the front row listening intently. We were the first artists of the second day of the festival and performed Raga Multani, an afternoon raga that we have been learning and working on for the past few months, as well as a short bhajan in Raga Bhimpalashri. As we took the stage and looked out into the large audience filled with some of Kolkata's most devout raga lovers and connoisseurs, we took a deep breath and prepared our minds for our first performance of the year. We hope you enjoy this video of the first half of our performance, featuring the slow 12 beat 'Vilumbit Ektaal Bandish' and 16 beat 'Madhya Teentaal Bandish' in the vocal style rendered on the Saxophones in a Brother Jugalbandi (Duet).
Monsoon:Duo + Sudhir Ghorai @ All Bengal Music Conference - Raga Multani VIDEO
We performed this same Raga a few weeks later at the Tollygunge Mehfil, an all day concert organized by our friend Carsten Wicke, one of the few people on this planet devoted to learning and carrying on the tradition of Dhrupad on the Rudra Veena. The concert featured over 25 musicians starting at 9:30am and running past midnight. It was held at Carsten's apartment, an intimate setting for Raga music with an audience of around 50 people who all sat on the floor absorbing the music all day long. Featuring performances on Sitar, Sarod, Rudra Veena, Saxophones, Dance, Tabla, and Pakhawaj by a wide mix of artists from India, Germany, U.S.A., Canada, Austria, and elsewhere, the whole day was filled with the wonderful atmosphere of close friends, music lovers, and people who enjoy the class and art of Indian Classical Music and Dance. Our performance was for many of the audience members the first time they were hearing us, and hearing Raga Music on saxophone!! We performed at 5pm, the perfect time for Raga Multani, just as the sun was setting and dusk takes us into the evening. We hope you enjoy this video of our performance. These two recent performances of Raga Multani create a very interesting comparison showing us playing the same compositions, but how a different atmosphere and setting effects the unfolding of the music!
Monsoon:Duo + Sudhir Ghorai @ Tollygunge Mehfil - Raga Multani VIDEO
On a different note, we had the great opportunity to perform at this years International Evening at the Calcutta Club. We were asked to perform on both nights of the annual event by the Canadian High Commissioner and his team at the Embassy. We had a wonderful time last year performing for them in New Delhi. The first night featured a Indian Classical Music performance and the second an Indo-Jazz set. We played with our dear friend and tabliya Apurba Mukherjee and a new friend Rahul Sen Gupta, a percussionst who joined us for the second night. It was a wonderful challenge to put together this set of John Coltrane's music and we can't wait to further develop these ideas and arrangements. This event featured speeches by various diplomats and dignitaries speaking on the Environment and Green Energy; certainly a worthy topic to advocate in India which is so under regulated in these ways. We hope you enjoy seeing some of our Indo-Jazz performance from the second night in this video.
Saxophone Brothers + Apurba Mukherjee & Rahul Sen Gupta @ Calcutta Club - Indo-Jazz VIDEO
About a week after this event, we were called by our neighbour and told that we were in the newspaper!! We later found out after various calls and comments by other students of Gurujee and friends that we had a feature article and that were headlined as the Posto-Eating Brothers (a traditional poppy seed food preparation very popular and specific to West Bengal and Bangladesh that Jonathan told the reported he makes on a regular basis). We were happy upon reading the article because it actually reflected many good points we discussed with the reporter on culture and music (unlike some unfortunate previous experiences).
We hope you enjoyed reading about this wonderful season here in Kolkata. We will be back soon with more updates on concerts, music learning, and other cultural experiences from India!! Thanks for reading.
Andrew & Jonathan