The Yoga of Silence Retreat
September 9 - October 2
This 4 day retreat was interspersed with guitar accompaniment for walking meditation, teaching and practicing kiirtan and meditating for long periods of time. The bhajan evening was especially devotional, as we went deep into the songs, feeling a great connection with one another; flowing with heart-filled love for the Divine....
Cultural Exchange Performance
ArtSpace Charter School
In September, I was invited to be a visiting artist at ArtSpace Charter School in Swannanoa, where I spent several weeks working with the 5th grade classes on their 15th century, Cultural Exchange performance. The “Central American Natives” learned the Mayan song “Conex Conex Palaxen”. I also taught a small ensemble the percussion to support the song and dance. For the “Spaniards”, I brought in the Sephardic song “La Rosa Enflorese” in the Ladino language.
It was fascinating learning about Spain and the Sephardic culture from the 15th century. My parentage is from that region, and I was able to bring authenticity to the children, while learning something new. I could feel the fusion of Middle Eastern and Spanish cultures in my own heart as I sang the song, and accompanied the children on guitar – my son Prashanta on the hand drum. Cherie Holmes, the dance teacher, masterfully taught the children fluid dances to fit the mood. ArtSpace Charter hosts a state-of-the-art theatre where we performed two shows.
Kiirtan artists Jyoshna LaTrobe and Kavita Neuman flew into North Carolina and went out in a flurry, but what a time we had!
Sunday afternoon, at the Prama Institute, Jyoshna gave a Power Point presentation on kiirtan, based on her doctorate thesis. Afterwards, we traded Prabhat Samgiitas, and sang an hour of kiirtan together. The kiirtan was high with Kavita on the khol drum, a traditional instrument made of clay, and covered with bamboo which gives it a wonderfully deep and high ringing pitch at the same time. Jyoshna’s compositions reflect her time spent in Rarh, studying and learning the ancient kiirtan genre. One can feel the authenticity of the songs, as Jyoshna, a dynamic musician, executes kiirtan with total abandon.
Wednesday evening, we presented songs and wound down the evening with kiirtan and meditation for the Full Moon Spiritfest at the Prama Institute.
Thursday afternoon, Jyoshna gave her presentation to a theatre full of middle school students as ArtSpace Charter School. She interspersed lecture with multimedia and participation, having the students all stand up and sing Rarhi kiirtan in the end. The students and teachers greatly enjoyed with her lively presentation.
Thursday evening, we were off to the studio to record two new, festive kiirtans for the upcoming Brazilian project.
The whole week was spent practicing music daily, sharing food together, and catching up with each other’s lives. We came away with a commitment to perform and record together more often to solidify our sisterhood in music!