After the successful album release of Gondwana Dawn, creators Robin Hogarth, a two-time Grammy winning producer and Sumitra Guha, an acclaimed international vocalist, accompanied by an African youth choir are bringing their spirited fusion of Indian classical music and South African choral music with an upcoming live performance this fall.
The event is being hosted by the Indian Fine Arts Academy of San Diego (IFAASD), which seeks to organize world class concerts while fostering the Indian culture through music, dance and the arts per its managing trustee Shekar Viswanathan.
The visionary world music aims to go beyond the maxim that music has no boundaries and fuses the music of Africa and India “in a way that celebrates the cultural and historical unity of the two countries,” says Guha.
Spiritual Indian Vedic hymns are blended with the soulful and vivacious gospel style music of Africa sung by an eight piece South African children’s choir aged 15 to 19. The resultant effect is an earthy and soothing sound which emerges from complex layers of Indian and African musical styles and instrumentation.
Hogarth and Guha also forged an intercontinental common ground between the two nation’s rhythmic styles with the use of socio-political themes. Reconciliatory post Apartheid music often used to calm race relations in South Africa was blended with Indian messages of peace and non-violence.
The song “The Dawn” is based on a primary Vedic rag bhairav and is a call to humanity to wake up from the deep slumber of vices such as jealousy and materialism for brotherhood and peace.
“Freedom Song” is based on a traditional Zulu song translated to a universal battle cry to be free “Come to me freedom, we want it now!” The song echoes both India’s and South Africa’s pursuit of independence with an underlying theme of brotherhood.
“Vaishnava Janato,” which is sung in Gujarati and echoed by the African choir, was one of the late freedom fighter and pacifist, Mahatma Gandhi’s, favorite songs. The verses champion the virtues of the ideal man as a good husband, friend and son who possesses no greed or malice towards humanity.
Hogarth and Guha’s journey to initiate the project began in late 2011 led by a “humanitarian thought to bring opportunities to underprivileged children worldwide” says Guha.
Numerous disadvantaged students and musicians from South Africa were selected to participate in the Gondwana Dawn project.
South Africa’s Peermont School Support Programme (PSSP), which committed millions to a cross section of functional high schools throughout the country, funded travel arrangement to allow the artists drawn from PSSP schools and two of their educators to spend time in India under the direction of Hogarth who was also the director of the Soweto Gospel Choir.
The culmination of the collaborative work resulted in the recording of an album, after having first performed live concerts at various Indian venues with Guha.
The team’s star power also stretched to India’s poorest communities in Delhi. The April 2012 Dawn of Stars music competition held under the Gondwana Dawn project name, targeted disadvantaged, talented singers who not only vied to perform in Delhi with the choir, but also received the opportunity to learn classical music under Guha for two years.
Approximately ten songs from the album will be performed by Guha (vocals), Hogarth (flute, keyboards and marimba), Nthombezinhle Manyathi, Katleho “Faith” Moeletsi (soprano), Andreas Biyela (tenor, guitar), Samuel Sesheku, Keketso Makgobotloane (tenor), Thabiso Moyake (bass voice, recorder), Sean Mashigo (bass voice), Aniruddha Mukherjee (tabla), Rajesh Prasanna (flute), Saurabh Suman (guitar) Gautam Menon (drums).
The album was released in the United States by ARC Music of United Kingdom in April 2013. The troupe will be spreading their message of peace and brotherhood to other parts of the country this fall inclusive of a performance in Los Angeles in association with the Artists for Human Rights International, says Guha.
The album derives its name from a land mass named Gondwana which existed in the Triassic period some 200 million years ago. Gondwana, which existed in the Southern hemisphere, included Africa and India which were adjacent to one another prior to the plate tectonic shift.
IFAASD has an extensive fall lineup this year, inclusive of Karnatik vocals, classical instrument and dance.
Saturday, September 28. 7 p.m. David andDorothea Garfield Theater, 4126 Executive Dr. La Jolla. http://www.indianfinearts.org/concerts/gondwana-dawn/ Tickets: $30, Free (IFAASD annual subscribers).