Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Ratha-yatra Slideshow.

Some beautiful photos of Tulasi - kirtaniya extraordinaire - at Sunday's Ratha-yatra festival in London. Her father Kripamoya is also leading the chanting in one of the photos. Both of them have been kind supporters of our Oxford Kirtans, and hopefully will continue to be.

The photos capture something of the wonderful event which is the Ratha-yatra festival. If you follow one of the kirtan groups and just absorb yourself in the chanting, you'll feel you never lived before!
Click here for the slideshow: London Rathayatra.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

London Ratha-yatra Kirtan Fun...

Today is the day of the London Ratha-yatra - thousands gather together and join in kirtan while Sri Jagannatha is pulled through the streets in his 'chariot'.

I know there are several Oxford kirtaniyas there today, and maybe you are too... but if, like me you couldn't make it, here's a video I found of last years festival: ISKCON devotees in their bright robes of saffron, making a joyful sound, - and showing that you don't have to be musical, or even sing in tune to be able to take part in kirtan!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Kirtan Alert!

Great opportunity for kirtan, this weekend, at the London Ratha Yatra. This is the London version of the thousands-of-years-old annual festival in Jagannatha Puri, Orissa - (from which comes our English word juggernaut).

Essentially it's a street festival, pulling the great Jagannath chariot through the streets of London, accompanied by joyful kirtan. Drums, cymbals, dancing, chanting - and a vegetarian feast at the end. If you love kirtan, this could be the thing for you, this Sunday. Organised by ISKCON, this is London's 41st Ratha Yatra, and there'll be several kirtaniyas from Oxford there - so some familiar faces to latch on to!

There's more kirtan on the stage at Trafalgar Square, after the procession.

41st London Rathayatra is on Sunday 28th June 2009
Assemble at Hyde Park, South Carriage Drive 11.30am
Procession departs 12 noon
Arrives at Trafalgar Square 2.30pm
Festival in Square until 5.00pm

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Ten Million Moons

Click on Picture!

We posted about Gaura Vani - the young American kirtaniya - in January, when he organised the great Kirtan-Fest, Chant4Change in honour of the new President's inauguration. Now, he has released a new CD of kirtan and Indian sacred songs - Ten Million Moons. We were lucky enough to be sent a copy for review and have solicited a couple of responses from two young musicians, which you can read below.

For myself, the CD was full of surprises. I was astonished at the energy and passion which comes through in each track and the variety of moods and styles throughout. By the middle of the second song I was in tears at the moving rendition of a Sanskrit poem, describing the power and beauty of kirtan.

Gaura-Vani and his band As Kindred Spirits, are all young and energetic and maybe this CD will particularly appeal to people of their own generation. But even as a middle-aged listener, I find it engaging and heart-stirring. If you'd like to buy a copy, you can do so here: Ten Million Moons. And read the two reviews below.

Ten Million Moons - Review No 1.

by Chris Diamond - student of Hindi and Music, at SOAS. (Plays tabla and sitar).

At ease in the village temples of India and the chic yoga studios of London or New York, Gaura Vani & As Kindred Spirits, in their new album Ten Million Moons, prove that kirtan comes in all shapes and sizes. The trendy, upbeat, and smooth world music style is equally matched with featurettes of every major musical style of India that has influenced modern kirtans.

To classic Vaishnava tunes, Gaura Vani and his team add a cool, vibrant, jazzy edge. The polished corners of traditional, spontaneous kirtans, might make this a best-selling album amongst the many Americans and Europeans who frequent yoga studios and meditation groups.

This album contrasts with the last album from As Kindred Spirits, Nectar of Devotion. Whereas the last album had a fairly uniform feel and style, the new album, Ten Million Moons, has almost as many styles as moons. We skip from yoga chic with tracks such as the very soothing Moods of Kirtan (Siksastakam) to the bouncing-off-the-walls ecstatic Pirate Song (Dina Dayal).

Gaura Vani & co take some leaps of faith as they explore the uncharted territory of bhajan fusion. We hear a Gospel version of the Bengali classic Jiva Jago; an American folksy tune inspired by the ancient philosophy of India more akin to Bob Dylan, and a Sufi Persian poem of Amir Khusrau. For the purists out there, traditional Indian Bhajans in Hindi (Meera’s Song) and Bengali (Worship the Golden Lord) can also be found.

Overall this album stretches the imagination of both hardcore kirtaniyas and World music buffs. I don’t envy the record shop owners who have to find the right label to put this album under on the shelves!

Ten Million Moons - Review No 2.

By Jahnavi Harrison - violinist, kirtaniya and student.

Nearly a decade after the success of their debut CD ‘Nectar of Devotion’, Gaura Vani and As Kindred Spirits have released a new album of kirtan and devotional songs, entitled ‘Ten Million Moons’.

The album presents kirtan through a variety of musical styles, from the traditional mridanga and karatal arrangements on ‘Bhaja Gauranga’, to the bassline driven beats on ‘Stop and Talk (Hey Natha)’. Instruments and vocals that span cultures are richly layered throughout, giving a sound that is both timeless, and refreshingly modern. This is particularly so on the energetic opener ‘My Body Is A Temple’, and the moving, strings driven ‘Moods of Kirtan’. There are some unexpected surprises too, such as the gospel choir and Hammond organ on ‘Sleeping Soul (Jiv Jago), which work surprisingly well!

Listening to the CD, it becomes clear that these are more than just musicians. Most of the performers on the album, like vocalist Acyuta Gopi, and multi-instrumentalist Vishvambhara, have lived and breathed kirtan since the day they were born, and the devotional moods they express are tangible and sincere. Combined with their natural musical talent, this makes for vibrant and inspiring listening. Gaura Vani and As Kindred Spirits aim to inundate the world with the sound of kirtan, and if their current success is anything to go by, they are well on their way.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

June Kirtan

Our June kirtaniyas, Rasasthali (pictured above) and Gopal-hari complimented each other well; Rasasthali with upbeat, lively melodies and Gopal-hari with a mellower approach.

We were surrounded by roses, beautifully arranged by Shyama, and it was a warm, sunny day - all mingling together to make a wonderful kirtan.

Here's a slideshow of the event - the kirtaniyas in various rapt poses!

Sorry about the lack of podcasts - hope to have it all back in order soon.

Monday, 8 June 2009

June Kirtan Coming Up.

Next Kirtan ... this Sunday, 14th June at 4.00 p.m.

Venue: Friends Meeting House, 43, St. Giles, Oxford.

Phone Keshava at 01865 331716 for further details.

Look forward to seeing you!