January 16 - 31, 2021
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!