Songs from around the world

Last Updated 21 March 2013, 12:38 IST

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations, in collaboration with Embassy of Israel in India and the International Music and Arts Society, recently presented ‘An Evening of Jazz Music’ by Ararat, an Israeli jazz troupe that mixes influences from various parts of the world, making it a blend of Israeli, Arabic, Balkan, Middle-Eastern, African and even Mediterranean music.

Chowdaiah Memorial Hall was packed with hundreds of jazz lovers, who got to witness something they probably weren’t expecting. From Moroccan religious chants, Bulgarian and Polish songs to even Andalusian poems set to music — the band played that and more. Some were smooth and hypnotic, while others had a happy, energetic vibe that saw the vocalist dancing and the audience clapping along.

What was most appealing was the assortment of instruments played by the musicians — there was a soprano saxophone, Egyptian oud, qawwal, didgeridoo, flutes from Egypt and Turkey, bells, ghungroos, cajon, tombak and even an olive can, used by Jews from Yemen who weren’t allowed to make music.

It was a rich exchange of culture, where the listener could feel the stories knitted into the lyrics, even if they didn’t know what they meant. There was always a surprise element in each song, which seemed to fascinate and win the hearts of the audiences.
“The programme was attended by people from every community, faith, religion and belief. And in that sense, it was hugely successful as it definitely promoted cultural relations,” shares Amitabh, an audience member. His son, Arnav, adds, “It was lovely — the music was meditative, energetic and a lovely blend of different cultures.”
The final piece was an enriching one due to the inclusion of Pandit Narasimhulu Wadavati on the clarinet and a young tabla player named Venkatesh. It was a beautiful collaboration to watch.

Each musician waited to find their place in the song and when they did, the smile refused to go.

It was almost as if something tangible was going on in the musical exchange.
“It was a great experience to play in Bangalore and it was a really beautiful, receptive audience,” expresses Yaniv Taichman, who played the oud.

Asked what the songs are about and he replies, “Some are about love, some are prayers; the others are just about wandering in the world.”

(Published 21 March 2013, 12:38 IST)

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