Blackstone Parks Conservancy

Two guided walks through Blackstone Park led by Midori Evans (writer and photographer) and Felicia Megginson(artist)

August 15 at 9am: Landscape Stories Bring your favorite writing utensils and we will write as we walk!  Collaborative sharing of poems and flash stories-essays if time.

August 24 at 9am: I Felt What I Saw Bring your smartphone or camera and we will take photographs as we walk, sharing emotive images of what we see and feel

Meet at the Blackstone Park kiosk: Parkside Rd. & E. Orchard Av., Providence, RI 02906.

To register please click here.

On Sunday, July 14th, BPC hosted a concert of classical Indian music.  The concert originated with an email I received from Srinivas Reddy, a Professor of Contemplative Studies at Brown, a practitioner of yoga, and a sitar player.

It was the sitar player who emailed me, asking if his group could play a concert at Blackstone Park. “Of course” I said—we have never heard Indian music played in Blackstone Field, which is a beautiful site between the Blackstone Park and the Seekonk River.  It seemed to me this would be the perfect place to listen to music that was sophisticated and intimate.

Beyond these initial thoughts–and a general impression of Srinivas as a very pleasant person–I didn’t have much idea of what to expect.  Srinivas told us he would be playing some Ragas, but I didn’t know what that meant.  However, during the evening, I learned ragas are based in oral tradition, so I thought of them as songs.

But ragas go on longer, and are improvised more nimbly, than people can sing, so I began to think of them as jazz that is built around a melody (Think “Take the A Train”) that is spun out all different ways by the instruments in the group.  Except in this music, there were only two instruments, the sitar and the tabla, (two drums with tonal qualities).

We heard three ragas that evening.  Two were classical compositions and the third was sort of classical-lite.  I found the last raga easier to relate to but the first two had a more abiding impact.  Their memory lingers and I hope one day in the not-too-distant future to hear the strains of Indian music floating out to the Seekonk from Blackstone Park again.

Rick Richards

 

Join us for a concert of Classical Indian Music this Sunday, July 14th, at 6 pm.  Ajit Acharya (tabla) and Srinivas Reddy (sitar) will perform a medley of early evening ragas set to a variety of talas.

At Blackstone Field, across from the Narragansett Boat Club (2 River Rd. aka River Dr., Providence, RI 02906). Bring a blanket!

To register for the event please click here.

——

The classical music of India is an improvisatory art music tradition with roots in ancient philosophies and yogic practices. Today there are two distinct classical systems: the southern Carnatic tradition and the northern Hindustani tradition. Srinivas and Ajit are practitioners of the Hindustani genre which they learned from their respective teachers in the traditional master-disciple mode of apprenticeship. The Hindustani music tradition is unique in its rich blend of Indian and Islamic aesthetics.

All classical music of India is based on two fundamental concepts of melody and rhythm, known respectively as raga and tala. Ragas are melodic landscapes that encode specific musical parameters related to note combinations and embellishments as well as non-musical guidelines regarding the intended mood and time/season of a given performance. Ragas evolved from the voice but can be expressed on any melodic instrument. The exposition of a raga is further accompanied by the complex polyrhythms of various talas as realized on the tabla drum.

Srinivas Reddy

 

Links for further reading:

The Story of Hindustani Classical Music

My Maestro As I Saw Him by Nikhil Banerjee

 

Srinivas Reddy is a scholar, translator and musician. He studied classical sitar in the traditional guru-shishya style with Sri Partha Chatterjee, a direct disciple of the late sitar maestro Pandit Nikhil Banerjee. Srinivas also trained in classical South Asian languages and literatures at Brown University and UC Berkeley. He has released three independent CDs and published three books of Indic translations with Penguin Books. Currently Srinivas is Visiting Professor of Religious Studies and Contemplative Studies at Brown University. He lives in Rhode Island and spends his time performing, teaching and conducting research around the world.

New England-based tabla player Ajit Acharya began his training under the tutelage of Sri Sheshagiri Rao of Bangalore, India. He also studied extensively with Dr. Rajan Sachdeva, one of the most respected and prolific Indian music teachers in the midwest. His table apprenticeship continues under the guidance of Pandit Samar Saha of the Benares gharana (or style) of tabla. Ajit has accompanied instrumentalists, vocalists and dancers. He has also given workshops all over the country and performed extensively with fusion, jazz and experimental musicians.