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.