Reena Esmail brings Indian and Western music together
By Peter Alexander
“East is East and West is West,” Rudyard Kipling famously wrote, “and never the twain shall meet.”
Kipling never met Reena Esmail. A composer who is thoroughly trained in both Western and North Indian classical music, she comfortably combines the two in her personal experiences and work. And bringing that cross-cultural blend to a broader public has become her mission.
Together with composer/percussionist Payton MacDonald, Esmail leads Shastra, an organization that aims to musically overthrow Kipling’s poetic decree. Or as the website states, Shastra “connects musicians working in both the Indian and Western musical traditions.”
Esmail and MacDonald bring their boundary-breaking project to the Dairy Arts Center in “Shastra! Indian/Western Fusion,” a concert featuring Front Range artists. “It’s basically a single evening of artists who do this kind of collaboration,” Esmail says. “It’s musicians but there’s also dance.”
In addition to the concert, The Dairy will present MacDonald’s film Sonic Divide in the Boedecker Theater. The film documents MacDonald’s 2016 bicycle ride along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, from Antelope Wells, New Mexico, to Banff, Canada. He rode the 2,500-plus mile route alone, stopping along the way to perform music composed specifically for the event.
Read more in Boulder Weekly.
Sounds good, I’m working with a wonderful pianist from Indonesia, I’m looking at learning some Indonesian classical works to sing with her, just need to make the time!
Look into Rabindranath Tagore for some songs that are (a) little known in the West and (b) exotic, yet accessible. Some of them will be part of the program. If you didn’t read the whole story in Boulder Weekly, Tagore was the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in literature in 1913. He lived in England for several years and was heavily influenced by British folk songs.
Thanks a lot Peter I will do, the name is familiar to me.