In other news Manasamitra have been awarded a Grants for Arts for the
Bollywood Jazz project that will unfold over the next few months. Watch this space.
In other news Manasamitra have been awarded a Grants for Arts for the
Bollywood Jazz project that will unfold over the next few months. Watch this space.
The very exciting Festival of Conversations is a pilot project exploring the power of words and simple conversations between diverse communities. It is intended as a series of conversations that focus on subjects and challenges that unite us, emphasising the similarities between communities rather than the differences.
The festival is a direct response to the current social environment that necessitates discussion, debate and conversations in the community .As part of the festival we are devising a sound installation that captures sound bites from the conversations held in the community and combine this with field recordings from around Dewsbury town. The festival will culminate in a sharing event at the Dewsbury Minster where the sound installation will be launched for the local communities to experience and enjoy.
From early May 2017 until late October 2017, Supriya Nagarajan, the Artistic Director of Manasamitra, will work with the communities to develop and lead a series of creative workshops that will lead to the Festival of Conversations involving the community groups and for families, friends and members of the wider community. Manasamitra and Supriya have been involved in the community for the last two years and have seen the impact of such work in the local area. Working with international sound artist Duncan Chapman, Supriya will create the platform for the designated communities to meet, socialise and exchange stories which will then be recorded and compiled into a soundscape.
Since October 2017, Supriya Nagarajan has embarked on a very exciting project taking lullabies to various schools across Reykjavik in collaboration with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Supriya was commissioned to create two specific pieces that could be part of the orchestra’s ongoing repertoire and she has been working closely with them since October rehearsing and polishing the pieces. Supriya will be working alongside conductor Viktor Arnason for the showcase concert. She has worked closely with Duncan Chapman who has arranged the pieces.
The other artists working on the project include Greta Salome, Eurovision contestant from Iceland who has also been commissioned to create new work for the showcase.
April 2017 – A showcase concert of the final pieces will be held on 5th April 2017 at the very prestigious HARPA based in Reykjavik.
The lullaby project is scheduled to travel to Oslo for a second year and in May 2017 will see a series of Lullaby booths across various points in the city. The very colourful visible booth will encourage members of the public to leave a lullaby that will be woven into a soundscape at the wonderful NOTAM (Norwegian centre for technology and music) in readiness for the festival in September 2017.
ULTIMA being a contemporary festival will be the perfect setting for a series of
Curated performances that will include musicians from different parts of the world.
2016 saw approximately 400 young children listen to the Lullaby installation and concerts. This year we thought it might be a good idea if some of them joined in. watch this space.
Artistic Director Supriya Nagarajan has been invited to Kingsbrae gardens in New Brunswick, Canada for a month long residency exploring bees and composing new music. Kingsbrae Garden is a multi-award winning 27 acre horticultural masterpiece located in beautiful St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick.
The residency will see Supriya interacting with the bee keepers in the gardens and local area to study the behaviour of bees and use that, as well as the garden itself, as an inspiration to create new musical works. Supriya has been working on the subject of bees and has recently created a music and dance performance for 2-7 year olds titled “Life of a Bee” working alongside sound artist Duncan Chapman, Musician Jacqui Wickes and dancer Jyoti Manral
The residency will give her the opportunity to extend this work and also commence work on a new album that features experimental music inspired by Bees. Since Jan 2017 Supriya has also been working in India liaising with communities who undertake bee keeping as their livelihood and face innumerable hazards in doing that. The bee project was inspired by a news article that described an entire township in China that hand pollinate their crops on account of dwindling bee population.
Supriya wishes to educate families on the perils of falling bee populations through music and design.
It was cold, snowy, magical and beautiful when I landed in Vantaa for the March chapter of the Lullaby project. The white vista around me was both fascinating and bleak at the same time. The centre of Helsinki was as vibrant as ever as I wound my way to Stoa based in the lovely suburb of Itekeskus.
I was stuck by the changing cultural mix as we neared Stoa. The metro station Itekeskus is located within a shopping complex with a very multicultural shopping offer and this reflects the community around. The lovely Outi met me and helped me into Stoa’s accommodation located on the first floor of the vibrant cultural centre. The flat itself is spacious, nice and roomy with a view into the main road out of Itekeskus. Stoa is a cultural centre with a library, world class restaurant, theatre spaces and a children’s play space all of which attracts the local community to come and use the spaces. The restaurant has five stars on the trip advisor website which is deserved. The two meals that I had there were both delicious. The next morning I set off to see the beautiful Lullaby installation created by Outi and Alejandro at the Vuotalo centre where I was also scheduled to perform on the 5th of March. Once again a fantastic hub in the community. The installation had a wide variety of artists sharing lullabies and I spent an hour with Outi and Duncan in the spaces just enjoying the music and ambience.
That evening I met my co-artists Natalia and Alejandro for the first time. Both of them are from Colombia and so I was treated to great combination of Colombian songs post rehearsals which were fun and interesting. The rehearsals were fabulous as both Alejandro and Natalia are intuitive artists who are very good musicians Day 3 started out with a composition session at the Metropolia University with the lovely Laura and her student team. After they had easily grasped some complicated compositions in difficult Indian scales it was time to lunch and go to the Sibelius Academy for final rehearsals.
For two days then I flew to Oslo to meet my lovely friends at the Ultima Festival and put the final touches towards planning the Lullaby installation and show in Oslo this September. It was great to go to NOTAM and sit by the frozen river and plan the sound installation as well as catch up with the super Gyrid on next steps. Watch this space!
5th of March was a clear and bright morning and after a nice lunch, Maggie and myself set off to go to the Voutalo center where the concert was being held. It as a fantastic night with loads of friends in the audience.
The concert itself was a remarkable experience where the lights and sounds came together beautifully and wove magic around the room. The sounds of the voice, harp and insects played around the room for 70 minutes and completely captivated the audience. It was gratifying to note that the concert evoked some powerful emotions amongst various audience members which was evident through the Q&A after.
Over the past year I have made some wonderful friends in Helsinki and continue to enjoy their company when I go there. Laura and Sanna at the University, Saija and Mikko who tried to take me skiing this time, Outi and Petra and Satu who I met in between all the musical play.
I am going back soon to make more lullaby. Until then zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Nature’s Soothing Lullaby
I spent all my summers and many winter and Easter holidays in Norway.
It’s a place with a lot of space,
A lot of stillness,
Especially in winter when the snow and ice covers everything and dulls any sound.
But, if you listen carefully,
On a winter’s day, you can hear nature singing.
A lake freezes over with ice so thick you can walk on it.
But deep down, below the ice, an air bubble rises to the top of the lake and bursts when it hits the hard surface.
This meeting of air bubble and ice sends a sound ringing out right across the frozen lake,
A kind of ‘boing’ noise,
A gentle noise.
Like a parent cooing at their baby.
Mother Nature singing her lullaby to us.
Norwegian’s are famously calm.
Is this why?
The space to be still and hear Mother Nature sing her ‘bubble and ice’ song?
Sometimes when I listen to Norwegian Jazz I can hear the air bubble hitting the ice when the double bass is plucked and says, ‘boing’.
Did that Jazz musician hear those sounds as a child in nature?
How deeply do the sounds we hear in our surroundings embed themselves in our brains, hearts, souls?
How many lullabies does Mother Nature have?
Project Assistant for Manasamitra and freelance writer.
Iceland is a land of beauty and simplicity. As soon as I landed at the airport at Keflavik the landscape enveloped me. Miles and miles of rock formations without a single tree in sight…
The city of Reykjavik is around 45 minutes from the airport and is small, compact and easy to navigate. The sun shining for 22 hours in early summer did help the case. The town itself is steeped in art and culture. Everywhere you turn, there are interesting murals on the walls and artwork on the roads. The attractions and the sights outside Reykjavik are simply stunning from the geo-thermal geysers to waterfalls and then the mesmerizing landscape.
I also came across a very vibrant music scene all across the city. Being fortunate to be located next to the newest venue “Menghai”, I had the good fortune to watch a couple of experimental concerts in the space led by some extraordinary young musicians and also meet the creators of the Menghai Tea House. Andras and Olga had travelled from Budapest to introduce tea making to the coffee drinking Icelandic masses. It was just a pleasure sitting and sipping tea with them and discussing the merits of the unfurling jasmine tea versus the delicious Darjeeling and watch the intricate and meditative process of making tea. If on the one hand the smaller venues had the edge of intimacy, the Harpa which is the biggest concert venue had grandeur and luxury. I had the privilege of watching some brilliant Women composers on my third evening in Reykjavik and felt truly blessed. The sheer joy of listening to wonderful music is unbeatable.
Lullabies are an integral part of Iceland and I had the pleasure and joy of discussing that with a variety of artists and organisations on my trip. I also had the chance to discuss lullabies with the wonderful Arna and Hjordis and will be going back soon to discuss the practicalities of bringing the project to Iceland and I truly cannot wait to go back and work with some of the music and musicians I met there.
Sometimes life surprises you and Iceland took my breath away on various occasions. Walking in the mild sunshine on the last day and watching the sun rise from behind the iconic “Sun Voyager” a sculpture installed on the harbor front, I felt completely at peace and rejuvenated enough to continue my journey exploring lullabies.
Supriya Nagarajan, Artistic Director of Manasamitra
Manasamitra’s Artistic Director, Supriya Nagarajan, visited Finland in April 2015. She shares her experience here.
I visited Scandinavia in September 2014 and met a number of artists, educators and interesting people who were keen to support our next artistic vision of lullabies from around the world. I kept the conversation flowing after returning to the UK and my April trip to Finland was a culmination of talks, ideas and some fun and laughter along the way. Laura who arranged for the workshops and lectures in April works with early years education and both of us were very excited about the possibilities of exploring lullabies with future teachers
I set off to explore Finland on the 28th of April. The flight was eventful with high levels of turbulence and travelling alone meant that I had no hand to hold or squeeze tight when the plane jumped around in the air pockets. I was stopping over at Denmark which is one of my favourite destinations in the Nordics because of some fantastic musicians I have come across here. Copenhagen airport was uneventful and I connected to Finland. On landing in the Vantaa, the weather was dull, rainy and sombre although the view from the plane as we were landing, was of a lovely planned city, with water meandering in the midst.
After an uneventful journey on the local bus, I reached my hotel located at the heart of the Kamppi shopping centre in Helsinki. Since Helsinki is two hours ahead I had an early start at the Metropolia University. The next morning after a two minute underground journey on the tube I reached the university. The building is situated on a waterfront street and has a light airy feel to it. Soon I was immersed in a classroom with some very enthusiastic musicians and teachers keen to explore the traditions and sounds of lullabies from another culture. The day passed very quickly and we explored compositions, composing techniques and learnt Indian raga’ and the outcome was four new lullabies using both Indian and Finnish musical influences. A completely successful and fascinating result. We lunched together and over a platter of vegetables and bread we discussed the importance of music in Finland.
Finland attaches a lot of importance to music education and every child has access to good quality music lessons. That explained the school children carrying instruments around that I had noticed in the morning.
One of the participants I met in the workshop, Saija has an understanding of Carnatic music through her frequent travels to India. That made for interesting discussions. We continued talking over tea in the most delightful tea place. Set in a back street in Helsinki town centre, Thehuene is remarkable and stocks tea from all parts of the world. We discussed music, mindfulness and life as we sipped Mumtaz Iranian tea and new connections were made.
That evening, I visited the Kamppi Chapel of silence which is an incredible acoustic space, an oasis of calm located in the centre of the shopping complex. I also walked to the ROCK CHURCH (TEMPPELIAUO). Excavated directly into solid rock, the Temppeliaukio church is situated in the heart of Helsinki, at the end of Fredrikinkatu. Because of its special architecture, the church, completed in 1969, is one of the main attractions in Helsinki.
The next day was a whirlwind of activity. The 1st of May is a national holiday and a day of celebration in Finland. Going out into town with Saija’s family I was part of an outdoor picnic where all the residents relaxed in the mild sunshine on the harbour front on cold crisp morning. After a lunch stop with Saija and her family, I boarded the flight back.
A very satisfying visit, new friends made and music explored. Laura is working on a module based on lullabies for the autumn term and I am excited to be part of it. Watch this space.
The Near Neighbours Project and the East Meets West project take elements of Lullaby, The Singing Bowl into the community.