Date: 23.05.21
Upon Loga’s insistence, I sat with her to watch a concert on YouTube given by the Berklee Indian Ensemble and was completely carried away by the ripple, wave, underwater current and eddy of a wonderful musical experience not to be associated with escapism but with the certitude that life can be made meaningful.
“What started out as a class at Berklee College of Music in 2011 has become one of the hippest global acts to emerge from Boston: the Berklee Indian Ensemble. Founded by Indian Berklee alumna and faculty member Annette Philip ’09, the ensemble provides an open and inclusive creative space for musicians from all over the world to explore, study, interpret, and create music influenced by the rich and varied mosaic that is Indian music today.
With high-profile collaborations featuring iconic artists A. R. Rahman, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Shreya Ghoshal, Shankar Mahadevan, Vijay Prakash, and Clinton Cerejo, the Berklee Indian Ensemble is renowned for its global Indian sound that honors traditions while experimenting with cross-pollination of genres, cultures, and multidisciplinary art forms. From a Carnatic thillana or a high-adrenaline konnakol conversation to Indo-jazz experiments or qawwali, the ensemble performs an expansive repertoire in addition to the 20 original student compositions the group has premiered to date.” (BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC)
The prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, is mostly known for its work on and teaching of jazz. Our great jazz musician, the late Ernest Wiehe studied and taught there. But little is known in Mauritius of an original musical creative experiment embodied by the Berklee Indian Ensemble.
1. Talented composers, musicians, singers and dancers working as a team;
2. Talented artists, male and female, from all over the world, sharing the same enthusiasm generated by their love of music;
3. The whole gamut of musical genres from India expressing originality and blending into each other to produce new musical experience;
4. Musical instruments from all over the world embracing sorority and fraternity.
In a nutshell, this is what I experienced on YouTube.
What can all the immigrants on this (our) beautiful creole island learn from Berklee Indian Ensemble? We have talented artists from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds; musical genres from all over the world; musical instruments from across the globe. But it seems that we tend to focus more on what divides us rather than on what could unite us. The different musical genres and musical instruments are perceived as markers of ethnic and cultural distinctiveness rather than venues for cross-pollination/miscegenation/metissage.
Ernest Wiehe and a few other talented musicians have felt the need to chart a new original creative course and have tried to initiate changes without much success because very few are those who are prepared to leave their comfort zones.
But today, because of the presence of different racist initiatives, it is imperative that artists in the musical field start to bring down walls and build bridges. Only they can teach us to hear and feel the beautiful music of human understanding, kindness and love.
Since music IS the food of love, play on brothers and sisters of music; charm us with your magic.


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