By Pallavi Nagesha
braḥmapraṇava sandhānaṁ nādō jyotirmayaḥ śivaḥ| (Ṇādbindu Upaniṣat)
(When we rejoice in the sounds of nature, music becomes salvation)
When was the last time you heard nature sing? Trees, stars and blue hills are meaningless. Melodies float through the air to fill the hills and valleys. Taoist philosophers emphasized the importance of listening to nature, with the ability to hear and listen with your soul.
To connect with the music of nature is to maintain an unrelenting hold on the human spirit. For eons, cultures around the world have harnessed the sounds of nature for inspiration. The harmonies that surround us, if we deign to listen, have the ability to expand our universe and grant infinite wisdom. From stories told across civilizations, it is evident that the human instinct to sing is equal to our predisposition to speak.
From tribes of sailors listening to the sound of oceans and whales to forest dwellers listening to the whispering of trees and the trumpeting of elephants, nature has fascinated and captured our imaginations in countless ways. We are inspired to imitate this sound, this nāda and create beauty and meaning.
If you listen carefully, what do you think the world around you is saying? Is not creation wounded and battered? This cry for help is as loud as the silence we hear.
In an attempt to bring to the fore the urgency of helping nature heal, LearnQuest, in partnership with First Edition Arts, Mumbai, brings you Blue Planet. A tribute to our home, Earth, seeing blue from space. Prominent musicians of the Indian classical genre and classical dancers unite in this unique and carefully curated offering of music and dance in the midst of the very nature that has helped us heal and now stands still and suffers.
This series hopes to shed light on the connections between the living ecology of the planet and the ecology of classical arts. Blue Planet is filmed in beautiful locations including forests, groves and around bodies of water across India. The restless minds of environmental activists like Amche Mollem in Goa, young artists, environmentalists and anxious citizens crystallized the idea of using art to heal the world. This series is designed to unearth the harsh realities, whether it’s the harshness of city life or nature’s dwindling resources.
At LearnQuest, our ideal is to connect everyone to the roots of music, the nāda biṅdu. By partnering with First Edition Arts, we continue our vocation to bring Indian classical music back to its origins, inspired nāda.
This series features Hindustani and Carnatic music, vocal, instrumental and jugalbandi bands as well as classical dance. From January 29, 2022, two concerts will be released every two weeks until May 31, 2022. Our first offering is a Carnatic vocal concert with Malladi Brothers and a Hindustani vocal concert by Venkatesh Kumar.
Other episodes feature a who’s-who of Indian performing arts, Uday Bhawalkar, Ramakrishnan Murthy, Shubhada Paradkar, Budhaditya Mukherjee,. TM Krishna, Dr Ashwini Bhide Deshpande, Abhishek Borkar with Ramana Balachandran on Carnatic Veena, Mohi Baha’ud-din Dagar playing Rudraveena, Dr Pantula Rama, Waseem Ahmed Khan, KS Vishnudev, Abhishek Raghuram, Ulhas Kashalkar, Debashish Bhattacharya, and P. Unnikrishnan. We also have a jugalbandi with Aishwarya Vidhya Raghunath and Brindha Manickavasaka. Rithvik Raja and Shweta Prachande and the duo Vignesh Ishwar with Christopher Gurusamy present a unique blend of Carnatic chanting and Bharatanatyam.
The artists selected poems in English, Tamil, Bangla, Kannada, Hindi, Sanskrit, Telugu and Marathi. “They cover nature and other topics common to all of humanity.” Additionally, Amche Mollem’s visual artists create a unique and original hand-painted poster for each concert. At the end of the series, the posters will be auctioned off and proceeds given to visual artists.
Through LearnQuest, you can get the entire series for a reduced price of $100. You can also choose only the Carnatic or Hindustani package for $65. For pricing details, visit the LearnQuest ticketing site at https://tickets.learnquest.org/.
Join our campaign to shine a light on the intimate connection between nature and music. Let’s heal our souls with nature and heal nature with our music. Poet Laureate Rabindranath Tagore says, “The world speaks to me in color, my soul responds to me in music.