An Ageless Prodigy
Wednesday after the morning lecture we had the visit of the famous Indian musician Dr. Mangalapalli Balamurali Krishna (see Wikipedia – “He is acclaimed as a poet, composer and respected by all Indian classical musicians for his knowledge of Carnatic Music” or google his name for videos and more).
It was a very special encounter. In spite of his high age – nearly 82 – he is full of vital energy and joy. One of his disciples explained a bit about him, he then gave us a short taste of his beautiful dynamic voice.
Sri Kumar presented him to us as the most respected Indian musician of today. We were invited to ask him questions about music, and there was the question about how a traditional musician can be creative, being traditional. He said that like the day is always following the tradition of morning, noon, evening and night and there is all life being expressed in it. Sri Kumar added that life, being original, is always “apurva”, never before, always fresh and new.
We were invited to listen to a concert by Dr. Balamurali Krishna – the first of 3 days of concert in a big hall. Before we had our thanksgiving meeting in the afternoon at the end of an outstanding and fascinating seminar. The group expressed their thanks also in a traditional Indian, but ever new way by presenting clothes to Sri Kumar, Kumari Garu and the Indian members who had done a great job to make our stay so well.
Dorle, who did the German translation, saying some words of thanks – Julieta, who translated into Spanish, followed next.
At 5.15 pm we left with the busses – I was in a real “old-style” Indian bus, with a coconut-offering in the front of the bus and a motor roaring like an old ship engine.
In the bus some ladies were decorating their hair with flower garlands….
And then the ride through the evening traffic began. I enjoyed observing the traffic jam, but wouldn’t have dared to drive myself.
At one crossroad at the red lights I observed the meeting of old and modern India – a lady phoning and a saddhu sitting under a tree in mids of the traffic noise.
Finally arriving at the hall I was lucky to get a seat in the second row – but in the cold wind of air condition – brrr. Nevertheless, I said to myself, observing the huge hall filling, I think, with about 1500 persons.
At first Sri Kumar conducted a short evening meditation. Then Dr. Balamurali Krishna and the musicians were given a warm welcome and the concert began.
The singer was presented with the words that in his early childhood he was celebrated as a child prodigy and that now he is an ageless prodigy – and this he really is. I very much enjoyed observing him on the screen, where you could see his face bubbling with joy, while his voice produced sounds of an incredible lightness and variety, and the musicians adding to the splendour.They were playing raga compositions he had done himself. There was a flute player without, whose whistling was a real art, sounding like a piccolo flute. And a mouth-harp player creating sounds like an electronic percussion. The vina player and the two percussionists also were very impressive.
I liked one story told about the musician: In 1975 or so he gave a concert in Kerala. Suddenly while performing in the open air a little girl came onto the stage and sat on his lap. He immediately started to compose a song about this encounter – which he was singing to us. After the song was over, the girl stood up and disappeared into the crowd. Nobody knew who she was and she couldn’t be found again.
This morning, Thursday, we first had a fire ritual, later followed by a question-answer series, before at 11 o’clock 2 of the musicians came into our retreat centre – the whistler and the mouth-harp player (an Indian friend wrote to me that it is called morsing). Together with a young Indian brother who is a well-known percussionist, they explained to us their art and gave us a beautiful short concert in the lecture hall. In the evening we will go to the second recital – while already a number of group members are leaving. I’ll be departing tomorrow afternoon.
Playing flute without a flute