Singing India

January 16 -  31, 2021


Per person, twin share.

Deposit: $1,500Aud (non refundable)

Balance payable 3 months before departure

Single Room Supplement:  $1,500Aud payable with balance.

Choir Director

Sue Johnson - composer, musical director and recording artist (vocalist, pianist and choral conductor) who has co-produced numerous CDs of original works with various artists and performed nationally and internationally.


Tour Concept

SINGING INDIA with Sue Johnson approaches India in an entirely different way, through its people and through the lens of sharing song and culture. 


In conjunction with local musicians, we will develop a repertoire of songs over a 5 day period in magical Rajasthan, then hit the old Portuguese enclave of Goa before heading to the Rishikesh on the Ganges, sharing music with different communities as we go.

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We will sing in schools, with Indian choirs, in churches and sacred places, in villages and in private homes. The process is to use performance as a connective tissue into Indian community and tradition.


This is a bold undertaking but at its heart is the knowledge that Indian people respect culture, and appreciate the generous sharing of it. They appreciate 'celebration' as well, and that's what we aim to do - to celebrate the meeting of different cultures.


Sue Johnson will be a perfect foil for this interaction as we deliver songs from our Western tradition and learn songs from the Indian tradition. Her 'improv' and spontaneous style will blend perfectly with some of the cultural and natural landscapes into which we travel. Sue has an incredible ear, not just for the music, but for its capacity to bend and shape itself into the moment.

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We will perform twice in formal situations. In conjunction with the Goa University Choir in Old Goa and then on our last night in Rishikesh at the ramshackle Beatles Ashram where the young Beatles studied transcendental meditation under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi between February and April 1968. Here also they wrote the White Album, to which we will pay homage in song.


Whether you have been to India or not, this will be a remarkable way to access its mysteries, through the powerful process of making and sharing music. We are more Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review than AAP KIngs. We intend to create a touring show that provides the soundscapes to our journey and invites people into our musical ecosystem.

Sue will be joined on SINGING INDIA by Professor Santiago Lusardi Girelli, a fascinating choir director and composer who specialises in the fusion between Eastern and Western music traditions.

To see a complete description of Santiago and his work you might visit the link below which outlines his fascinating program - SINGING WITH THE MYSTICS. Santiago is the perfect person to provide the cultural context to India.


As Sue prepares the choir to deliver her wonderful material, Santiago will lead songs that allow us to resonate with Indian music and its devotional tradition. We will be also joined by local musicians, with interactions planned that fuse Sue’s beautiful chants and grooves with classical Indian singing.

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Lastly, we bring YOU! Talented, courageous, open-hearted and with all kinds of singing and musical talents that we will utilise in concert and in our daily travel.

I’ll share a moment by the Ganges when I was developing SINGING INDIA. I was sitting in a chai cafe in Rishikesh when an old Norwegian hippy pulled out a squeeze box... 

He started to play a classic Hindu chant or raga and the chai man joined in with a lilting tala. Being a bit of an old hippy myself I joined them, and so too did a passing yoga teacher. When I left 30 minutes later with input from almost 15 singers and a drummer, I rang Santiago immediately, describing the experience. “Yes” he said, “we can create a soundscape to our journey which doesn’t demand an audience but invites people to join.”

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The extraordinarily interesting aspect to this interaction was that it actually wasn’t extraordinary. No one made a fuss, it was just Indian life where music and celebration need almost no encouragement, always just sitting below every moment waiting to emerge.


We will enhance the musical possibilites by adding an Indian musician with who Santiago has performed on a number of occasions - Subhash Pavar.  This young Indian classical vocalist and swarmandal instrumentalist has had a  meteoric career. His talent, kindness and understanding of Indian music will allow Sue’s beautiful melodies, and Santiago’s mesmorising chants, to have an Indian classical  counterpoint as we work together to create a unique fusion of music.


As the designer of SINGING INDIA I am so excited. Excited by what Sue will bring, by what Santiago will bring, by what you will bring and by what India will present us.


Most travel starts with a range of answers.

SINGING INDIA starts with a load of questions to which the answer will probably be - you just had to be there!


16 Jan 2021: Arrive Delhi

Arrive at AMBASSADOR HOTEL at 2pm.  

After check-in visit the beautiful and culturally important Lodhi Gardens for an intial sing with Sue and a talk from Santiago on Muslim culture in India.

Return to hotel and welcome address and briefing.

Dinner at the hotel.

Overnight: Delhi

Meals: Dinner


17 Jan: Delhi – Jaisalmer (Flight 1030 / 1220 Hrs)

After breakfast check out from the hotel and transfer to the Delhi airport to board your onward flight to Jaisalmer.

Check-in to the GOLDEN HAVELI HOTEL.

Lunch at hotel.

Afternoon rehearsal with Sue and Santiago overlooking Jaisalmer Fort.

Dinner next door at Jaisal Treats.

Overnight: Jaisalmer

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


18 Jan: Jaisalmer

Easy walk to the beautiful Gadisar Lake for singing/meditation.

Breakfast at hotel.

Rehearsal and lunch at hotel.

Guided walk through the exotic Jaisalmer Fort and Jain Temple.

Afternoon singing session overlooking Jaisalmer at Sunset Cafe.

Dinner at Sunset café with local Rajastani musicians and singers.

Overnight: Jaisalmer

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


19 Jan: Jaisalmer

Easy walk to the beautiful Gadisar Lake for singing/meditation.

Breakfast and Lunch at the hotel with morning rehearsal.

Visit to buzzing Jaisalmer Bazaar and sing to the women at an NGO for desert woman weavers in glorious old haveli.

Free time in Baazar.

Dinner at Jaisal Treats.

Overnight: Jaisalmer

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


20 Jan: Jaisalmer

Easy walk to the beautiful Gadisar Lake for singing/meditation.

Breakfast then short rehearsal.

Visit Bada Bagh, a spectacular Hindu cremation site. Santiago gives commentary on Hindu religion.

Afternoon drive to Rajasthani Thar Desert school for workshop with children.

Performance and then dinner in Gypsy village with local people as our guests.

Local singers and dancers perform and then a big Desert Disco for a Bollywood Dance.

Overnight: Jaisalmer

Meals: Breakfast, packed Lunch and Dinner


21 Jan: Jaisalmer

Morning off to chill or explore.

Lunch free range.

Afternoon rehearsal for Goa gigs.

Dinner at Jaisal Treats or similar.

Overnight: Jaisalmer.

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner.


22 Jan: Jaisalmer –Goa

After breakfast, transfer to the airport to board the flight to Goa.

Arrive Goa and transfer to the PANJIM INN in old Portuguese quarter of Goa.

Dinner at Viva Panjim Restaurant and then have a drink and sing in the Josephs Bar.

Overnight: Goa

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner


23 Jan: Goa

After breakfast, proceed for Heritage Walk with guide and visit Hindu Temple.

Lunch at Casa Menezes (Goan Portuguese House) in Althino followed by rehearsal in Rotunda, joined by Goa singer musician – Subhash Pavar.

Free time then transfer for rehearsal with Goa University Choir.

Dinner – free range.

Overnight: Goa

Meals: Breakfast


24 Jan: Goa

Breakfast at the hotel and morning at leisure.

Afternoon Old Goa Tour and rehearsal for evening performance.

Performance in heritage cathedral, Old Goa, with University Choir.

Celebratory evening meal with Goa University Choir.

Overnight: Goa

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch  and Dinner


25 Jan: Goa

After breakfast, drive to Santa Cruz School for workshop with children.

Drive to the amazing FIGUERIREDO MANSION for lunch, tour and rehearsal.

Visit and perform some songs at Local Church.


Overnight: Goa

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


26 Jan: Goa –Rishikesh (Flight)

After breakfast, transfer to the airport to board the flight to Dehradun Via Delhi. Arrive Dehradun and transfer to THE DIVINE HOTEL - Rishikesh.

Dinner at Machan at hotel.

Overnight: Rishikesh

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner


27 Jan: Rishikesh

Early morning meditation and chanting on the deck by the River Ganges.

Walk with Raj from the hotel. Lunch/swim/sing by River Ganges in front of Ashram.

Afternoon Free Range.

Evening attend Ganga Aarti at Triveni Ghat.

Dinner at the hotel.

Overnight: Rishikesh

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


28 Jan: Rishikesh

Early morning Meditation and chanting on the deck by the River Ganges

Rafting on the River Ganges. Lunch and sing by the river.

Afternoon free time then rehearsal for Beatles Ashram gig.

Dinner at the hotel.

Overnight: Rishikesh

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


29 Jan: Rishikesh

Early morning Meditation and chanting on the deck by the River Ganges

Breakfast then Free Range time.

Visit Beatles Ashram for tour and rehearsal

Dinner at Ashram then Concert for invited guests.

Overnight: Rishikesh

Meals: Breakfast, Packed Lunch and Dinner


30 Jan: Rishikesh – Delhi (Flight)

After breakfast, transfer to the airport to board the flight.

Arrive Delhi and transfer to the AMBASSADOR HOTEL.

Free range in Delhi.

Evening farewell at hotel.

Overnight: Delhi

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner


31 Jan: Depart Delhi


Breakfast and  last sing.

Check out from the hotel and transfer to the Delhi airport to board your flight for onward destination.

Meals: Breakfast

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Your tour leaders

“Susan Johnson has a delicious gospel-based sense of harmonising”  Bruce Elder – Sydney Morning Herald


Active as a choir director, composer and musician for more than 25 years, Sue Johnson has worked with more than 70 choirs in Australia and internationally. Johnson’s published scores for choirs are sung and recorded worldwide including by numerous USA all-state choruses. She has co-released 12 critically acclaimed and award-winning albums, written 3 film scores and 7 dance scores. She has also co-created 4 theatre shows, some touring internationally, such as the critics’ favourite ‘Still Awake Still’ (“unleash some extraordinary dreams”– New York Times). Johnson was awarded the Montsalvat Yalumba Jazz Medal, and achieved nominations for 5 ARIAs, an APRA, an Australian World Music Award, 8 Australian A Cappella Awards and numerous USA Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards. 


“Music is a human exchange, a force that changes people’s lives.“  Sue Johnson

Johnson has completed commissions for massed voices and led vocal improvisations from small choirs up to 2000 people at the Sydney Town Hall (“Sue Johnson masterfully led the filled-to-brim Sydney Town Hall audience in an improvised canon. It was a truly amazing thing to hear" – Oral Majority).  She has produced and performed concerts in venues ranging from the Sydney Opera House to the Northern Territory Titjikala Community and the New Victory Theatre in New York. Johnson has appeared at festivals and other performances in concert halls in Berlin, Vienna, France, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore and Laos, in addition to fashion show extravaganzas in China. She has collaborated with world-class choir directors Tony Backhouse and Anders Nyberg and was a foundational member of a cappella quintet Coco’s Lunch (“one of Australia’s best exports” – Vancouver Sun).

Johnson has collaborated with leading arts institutions including the Sydney Opera House, Theatre Arts Export, the Boite, the Victorian Arts Centre and Arts Victoria, and toured internationally with Musica Viva. She has also spent many years teaching at the Victorian College of the Arts and the University of Melbourne and toured extensively playing piano with many great Australian improvisers including Judy Jacques, Brian Brown and women’s jazz quintet Morgana.

Sue Johnson is a musical powerhouse at the peak of her craft. As a choir director Johnson is superbly inspirational; she imparts her joy of music and singing with an infectious energy:


“as good as anything I have heard by Sweet Honey in the Rock"
– ABC Limelight.

“A pure celebration of heart-stopping beauty”
– Sydney Morning Herald

“One of the most mesmerising songs”
– The Age

“One of the most moving compositions heard at the festival so far”
– The Hindu
Composer · Musical director · Academic

Born in Buenos Aires in 1979, Santiago is an Argentinian-Italian Music Conductor, Philosopher and Scholar of the philosophical traditions of the East and West. Dr. Lusardi Girelli has worked as lecturer and choir and orchestra conductor and in more than 20 countries in Europe, South America, Africa and Asia for the last 20 years.


He holds Master degrees in Orchestra and Choir Conduction and Philosophy, and a PhD in Aesthetics and Philosophy. As the result more than ten years of research on Indian Philosophy he has published his Thesis on Buddhist Phenomenology and Hindu Ritualism and its links with Western Music Choral Tradition.

Santiago Lusardi Girelli

Santiago has conducted choirs and orchestras, professional and amateurs, around the world throughout more than 400 concerts, and leaded music tours in several countries, from the Amazonas Rain Forest to Leipzig-Germany (J.S. Bach´s city); and from Peruvian Machu Pichu to the Indian Himalayas. His enthusiasm, leadership and passion for music, philosophy and cultures have led him to accomplish several important achievements and recognitions that have earned him the esteem of the local and international press alike.

Furthermore, Santiago has been involved in a wide range of music educational cooperation projects around the globe as researcher, music director and educator, as the worldwide known EL SISTEMA in Latin America for more 5 years; and as composer and researcher he has released dozens of original compositions of choral and orchestra music, combining ancient music traditions with contemporary composing techniques. He has published articles and essays on philosophy, music and theology as well. As Music director and composer he released more than 30 album productions, and conducted hundreds of symphonic, choral, opera and musical concerts.

Currently located in Spain and India, Dr. Santiago Lusardi Girelli holds the Anthony Gonsalves Chair as Visiting Research Professor at the Goa University in India, working as lecturing professor and conductor of the Goa University Choir. He also collaborates as Lecturer, Composer and Guest Conductor with different Universities and professional orchestras from South America, Africa, Europe and India.


A keen musicologist and philosopher Dr. Lusardi Girelli has initiated several projects in philosophy, culture and music appreciation around the world, as the Sadhana Researching Retreats on meditation and art appreciation, and two community experiences based on the philosophy of Gurdjeff and Krishnamurti. For more than 30 years he has received instruction on meditation and yoga, and has initiated several projects to introduce young people to this technics, relating the practices yoga and meditation with the teachings of different philosophical currents of the East and choral music.


Furthermore, he regularly delivers lectures, pre- concert talks, pen articles and program notes for different projects in Europe, Latin America and India, and has published articles on several magazines, symposiums and congresses on topics related to philosophy music and arts. He has been committed to many educational initiatives that helped bringing classical music to young children including the music performance programs initiated by the University of Seville, which provides local talents the possibility to flourish at internationally recognized standards. Santiago did several researches on Buddhist phenomenology and ritualism in north India, Argentina and Spain; and on Baroque Vocal Music of Moxos and Chiquitania ́s archives in Latin America, in the Amazonas Rain forest, in the Altiplano and in the Inca Sacred Valley.

He studied with several renamed maestros, guru ́s, composers and conductors and philosophy and art & music celebrities round the world such as Martin Palmeri (Argentina), José Carlos Carmona (Spain), Antonio Abreu (Venezuela), A. Alonso (France), Julio Domínguez (Spain) Roberto Perez (Argentina), Indra Devi (India), G. Céspedes (Colombia), N. Andrenacci (Argentina), G Anandamurti (India), W. Ptaff (Germany), and vocal performance with Mirella Frenni (Italy).

Dr. Lusardi Girelli leads in addition an intense activity in the scope of International Cooperation, as the director and founder of the cooperation group Social Development through Music & Arts which has achieved since 2008 more than 20 cooperation works in different regions of South America, Africa and India and hosted more than 200 volunteers. The Cooperation work attends children and young people pedagogically and offers education to young teachers of different music programs in 3 continents.

He is Creator and Artistic director of the acclaimed Ketevan World Sacred Music Festival, a project of musical and artistic coexistence -a space where the language of music becomes a bridge to connect and foster dialogue among cultures- based in India since 2015 in the UNESCO Heritage City of Old Goa.


Raymond Hawkins - owner of SOUND TRACKS TRAVEL - has operated ecletic tours all over Australia for decades. Before that he toured with some of Australia greatest bands - Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel and The Angels as tour manager, lighting designer and/or production manager. He has worked with Opera Australia, The Sydney Dance Company and ran the Audio/Visual Department at the Sydney Opera House. 
Raymond created the Burra Gospel & Soul Festivale, operates and designed the BackRoaders tours and ran the Desert Choir program with Tony Backhouse for almost a decade, and now designs extraordinary musical programs that delve deep into the social and cultural world through which they travel. He’s different, and so are his programs.

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The  background characters to Singing India are the extraordinarily diverse array of people who we will meet over the 15 days.

They are the musicians, the street sweepers, the young people working in hotels and the beggars on the street. They are the holy men, and mothers and gypsies and children. They are the mesmerizing array of humanity that will make you want to return to India again and again. If our trip has been successful, it is they who will become our guides.