Spectacular musical Shanti comes to Bay Area

3-webCan you imagine 250 performers on stage singing melodious chant like notes, set to India Raagas, but that combine a Western orchestra and choir? The music of “Shanti – A Journey of Peace” will reverberate in the Bay area during its inaugural performance on April 30 at the Flint Center Auditorium.

Shanti is an acclaimed multi-media musical performance that premiered to a capacity audience on May 1, 2004 at the University of Cincinnati’s Great Hall and launched the Indo-American choral movement in the US. Shanti in Sanskrit means peace. Shanti-A Journey of Peace, is a contemporary oratorio in Sanskrit. It is a spectacular multi-media musical production that integrates western choral and orchestral music with Indian musical and dance elements.

Created by Cincinnati based music composer/educator Dr. Kanniks Kannikeswaran, Shanti is an expansive and collaborative performance that explores the meaning of peace and interconnectedness through a music score that cuts across cultures and brings ancient chants for peace to life in a contemporary setting. Kanniks’ opening invocation ‘Mahavakya’ was performed by his daughter Vidita Kanniks at the historic reception accorded to the Indian Prime Minister at Madison Square Garden, New York in 2014 and his anthem for the Indian diaspora in Sanskrit opened the Indiaspora Conference in 2015.

Having wowed audiences for over 10 years, in the Eastern, Midwestern and Southern Regions of the US, Shanti comes to the Bay Area for the first time. Shanti’s cast of 250 features singers and dancers from the Bay Area Indian community, the Santa Clara Chorale and a chamber orchestra.

Shanti is a ground breaking creation in the history of world music, and represents the ultimate meeting of Western and Eastern cultures.Shanti is perfect for families, connoisseurs, and music lovers of both Western and Indian genres, and is a great way to celebrate the multi-cultural and diverse world that we live in, especially at a time, when stories of violence pervade the daily news cycle.

While the Bay Area is inundated with performances, shows, music and dance, competitions and other forms of entertainment, three aspects make Shanti an absolutely unique and one of a kind event. Firstly, most performers are drawn from the Bay Area: This is one aspect that distinguishes Shanti from other performances where the performers are usually stars coming from elsewhere.

The community of singers and dancers, who will bring Shanti to life, have been practicing for many months now. Singers from the area have been working with composer Dr. Kanniks Kannikeswaran since August 2015 to bring this music score to life, much like previous performances in Houston, Atlanta and elsewhere.

Secondly, Shanti belongs to a unique musical genre: It is a unique mixture of Indian Classical Music that springs from the Raaga tradition and the classical western arrangements of Orchestra and Choir. Thirdly, there is the enormous diversity of people who are coming together to create Shanti in the Bay Area.

The Santa Clara Chorale, a western choir, has also been practicing Indian Raagas and Sanskrit chants to join the Indian singers, in a one of kind musical event. Speaking about the opportunity to work on the Shanti performance, Scott Hanna-Weir, the conductor of the Santa Clara Chorale said “I am always looking for new and exciting repertoire to program with my ensembles, and the opportunity to work on Shanti not only provides that, but also a tremendous opportunity for cultural exchange and fellowship.

The Chorale is thrilled to be participating in this project.”
Speaking about Shanti – Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati, (1930-2015), has said “Shanti is a grand theatrical performance involving many artists and musical instruments, all brought together to enjoy the experience of harmony of different expressions of culture, without losing each one’s individuality.

This is what is required by humanity a capacity to enjoy each other, without the pressure to change and bring others to the melting pot of one’s own culture.A program like “Shanti” makes us appreciate the riches of global culture. The people involved in staging “Shanti” are committed to this cultural harmony as the basis of spiritual accomplishment. I congratulate the entire team and the leader, Kannikeswaran, a musicologist and visionary”.

S. Ramadorai, Vice chairman, Tata Consultancy Services, said “In 1938, writer Raja Rao, in his revolutionary preface to Kanthapura wrote; “One has to convey in a language that is not one’s own the spirit that is one’s own…We cannot write like the English. We should not. We cannot write only as Indians. We have grown to look at the large world as part of us.These words rings true in the context of Kanniks Kannikeswaran’s music.

It would be hard to restrict it as Indian music, yet strictly speaking, his music springs forth from Saaman of Vedic times and reaches through the ragas of classical India to the recent Celtic lilts of Muthuswami Dikshitar.

Through Shanti and his larger orchestral works, Kanniks stands out as a truly innovative and global, yet deeply Indian, music composer who has been able to bring together a deep understanding of both Western and Indian musical traditions in a manner that is absolutely unique and enriches the entire world of music.”

On seeing Shanti in Cincinnati, the former CEO of Proctor and Gamble, John Pepper had this to say: “What a magnificent Show! A truly uplifting night. From start to finish, in all its complexity and its simplicity, the presentation was masterful and the content luminous.

What you and the cast did Saturday night had an enormous impact on me and I would guess every member of the audience. As I learned about Shanti: A Journey in Peace, I embraced its purpose immediately.The fact that this initiative started in Cincinnati and spread to other parts of the country is a testament to its quality.”

Former Ambassador of India to the US, Lalit Mansingh, has said “The Indian dance and music tradition is as rich and powerful as it is ancient. To fuse this heritage with what is probably the youngest, if not the most vibrant ? i.e. the American music and theater ? is indeed a unique experiment. This seamless integration will add a new dimension to the cultural ties between the two countries and create a truly universal musical show. May the message of ‘Shanti’ or ‘Peace’ spread forth across the globe”.

Shanti is the ultimate confluence of peoples and cultures; it celebrates the diversity that characterizes our global era through the language of music and dance. Shanti embodies the possibilities for concord amongst the world’s civilizations in the face of cultural and ideological differences. Shanti is a celebration of Peace and our essential oneness transcending linguistic and cultural borders.Shanti – A Journey of Peace is being brought to you to the West coast by Dharma Civilization Foundation, for two performances, one at the Flint Center, Cupertino, on April 30th, and an encore performance at the Interstake Center auditorium on May 21st.

Dharma Civilization Foundation
Dharma Civilization Foundation, (DCF) is an American 501c3 non-profit organization, registered in the State of California. The mission of DCF is to promote philanthropic giving for creating academic and intellectual infrastructure for the systematic study of “Dharma”, its interpretation and application in modern contexts, in formal academic settings.

Shanti is being brought to you in the Bay Area in support of its flagship initiative at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley California, where a Center for Dharma Studies was launched in the year 2015. This Center will offer MA and PhD programs in Hindu Studies to begin with, and will eventually support programs in the other Dharma traditions as well.

DCF, in the years to come, aspires to support undergraduate courses and minors in Hindu studies and Dharma studies at the undergraduate level at institutions such as UC, Berkeley, Mills, Mary’s and other colleges.

India Post News Service

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