As many India Currents readers may know, Indian classical music has a time cycle; certain ragas match the essence of, say, twilight, high noon, or sunrise. Inspired by that raga samay system, our original idea was to create an FM broadcast in NYC which would take the local listeners and those tuning in on the internet on a shared 24 hour/ 24 set journey of sound. Our goal has always been to expand the audience of raga and to provide a platform for those exploring new directions in the music. We have an amazing community of musicians here in New York so when we came up with the idea, over 50 musicians joined us for the first broadcast. After several years of broadcasting in the studio we took the inevitable leap into sharing the experience with a live audience. Last year, we broadcasted from the Rubin Museum of Art and now we will be at Pioneer Works. a sprawling 25,000-foot space with a manicured outdoor area. One can really feel the shift in music and light. It’s an immersive, interactive, magical experience and the music is fresh and exciting.
The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and New Yorker have all alluded to a musical movement dubbed Brooklyn’s “Raga Renaissance.” Of course, this embarrasses the musicians, who do not claim to be equals to the masters of Akbar’s court, but there is something going on. New diverse audiences are discovering this music, cross-cultural collaborations are creating new forms, and Indian artists born here have space to incorporate more of their full identities into their music. Our 24 track, Ragas Live Retrospective album is basically the soundtrack of this musical movement. We started documenting and nurturing what was going on 3-4 years before most of the press caught on. We never imagined it would all grow so big so quickly, but perhaps in a culture dominated by 24-hour news cycles and twitter sound-byte attention spans, a 24 hour music Raga festival is the perfect antidote. https://www.ragaslive.org/
David Ellenbogen is founder of the Ragas Live Festival, host of the podcast NYC Radio Live and an Artistic Director and guitarist with Brooklyn Raga Massive.