What happens when two cultures meet?
Some would paint a picture of conflict. But poets and musicians would beg to differ.
To them, the coming together of two cultures is a chance for dialogue, a chance to explore, experiment and reinvent. It’s a chance to create something beautiful to enchant hearts on both sides. And what better way to do that than by exploring each culture’s take on love?
Performing at the Alliance Française of Madras, AKADÊMIA – a renowned French music ensemble – teamed up with Indian artists to perform ‘Songs of the Heart’: a celebration of love through a dialogue between western Renaissance music and the works of Indian classical poets.
Beginning with a joyful choral musical piece, the evening came alive to a series of musical pieces accompanied by classical Indian poems on love.
A dialogue in truth, the performance treated the audience to a conversation between renaissance music as performed by the ensemble and the poems narrated. Throughout this dialogue, each side ‘spoke’ in turn – the musicians through their music, and the narrators through the words of the poems they recited.
Reciting a Yaksha’s loving, longing-filled description of his lover in Kalidasa’s Meghadhuta, Meera Bai’s words in devotion to her Lord Krishna, and other works and passages on longing and desire, the narrators offered the audience a glimpse into various aspects of love. A glimpse that was expanded upon by the musicians, who, under the graceful guidance of Françoise Lasserre, put into melody what words alone could not express.
What set ‘Songs of the Heart’ apart from any other musical performance or poetry reading was not the music or the poems alone. It was the way in which the poems and the musical pieces complemented each other. As the subject of each poem changed, so did the tone of the music, to either match the words and sentiments of the poem, or play a counterpoint to them.
Together, the music and poetry took the audience on a journey from the initial spark of desire and joy to the bittersweet moments of longing, and the deep sorrow of loss. A journey that culminated in poetic commentary on the fleeting nature of life, and the futility and foolishness of clinging to past sorrows. With verses urging the protagonists to let go of their sadness, the performers concluded this journey at the inevitable, final moment of letting go and moving on. A moment of rediscovery of joy, that powered the penultimate musical piece of the night.
After an hour and a half of musical dialogue, this enchanting evening came to an end with a soft musical piece by AKADÊMIA. A fitting, musical end to a magical performance and the tenth edition of Poetry with Prakriti Festival .
Thanks Prakriti foundation for organizing such amazing event.
Thanks to Akash Kapur for the wonderful write up. Thanks to Gopinath & Haris Manian for the Pictures.
All images are copy right protected to Madras Photo Bloggers and Prakriti Foundations.