Spirit of Humanity – a musical journey

Posted on June 22, 2020

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On June 26, the orchestral album “Spirit of Humanity” is set for a grand worldwide launch. Chennai-based composer Ganesh B. Kumar speaks about his journey.

Dhahara Vidhya Foundation, a Chennai based non-profit charitable trust,  aims to spread ‘Peace and Harmony’ globally through music. The trust commissioned Ganesh B. Kumar to compose two orchestral works, and he drew inspiration from two events:

  1. The life of Ludwig Van Beethoven: This formed the basis of RISE – Symphony No.1 in D minor.
  2. The great humanitarian act by Maharaj Jam Saheb Digvijay Singhji, ruler of the erstwhile princely state of Nawanagar, Gujarat. This inspired him to depict the ravages of war as seen through the eyes of Polish children. And this formed the basis of THE JOURNEY – A Symphonic Poem, the first-ever by an Indian composer.

Composer Ganesh B Kumar speaks about his journey…

“ It has always been my goal to compose music that enriches and uplifts the human spirit. When I was commissioned to write two orchestral works, I was looking for motivational and socially impactful themes that would benefit mankind.

While I came across a quote by Confucius, I was inspired to establish a ‘point of convergence’ and decipher a coherent meaning in the life of Beethoven.

It is a known fact that Beethoven’s own circumstances were miserable – loveless and pain-stricken, made worse by progressive deafness. Yet, he overcame these obstacles, churning out timeless compositions. I have tried bringing out this dichotomy in the symphony RISE, with the descending phrases depicting the various falls in his life, while the consequent victorious emergence is pronounced through the ascending phrases, invoking the spirit of positivity and perseverance.

RISE is a feel good symphony in 3 movements, each carrying an interesting tag line; (I) Allegro con brio – Arrival of the legend, (II) Andante – Introspection (III) Allegro con moto – Undisputed ‘Numero Uno’, giving a clear insight into each movement. How Beethoven emerged as one of the most successful composers of all time, against all odds, forms the crux of the composition.

It begins with the legendary motif “ta-ta-ta-Taaa”, comprising of rising fifths; invoking the spirit of positivity and perseverance. I have tried to depict musically, the ‘turbulence followed by triumph’, a phenomenon that exemplified Beethoven’s life. This is observed in all the three movements, thereby sustaining the interest of the listener till the end.

I have concluded the symphony by re-stating the legendary motif “ta-ta-ta-Taaa”, consciously endorsing the famous statement of the British commentator on music, Mr. Norman Lebrecht; “Beethoven may be the first composer you ever heard of and he could be the last you hear as you leave this world”.

This symphony is my humble tribute to one of the greatest musical geniuses of all time; Ludwig Van Beethoven, whose music rose above every fall he experienced in his life”.

THE JOURNEY

“My patron Shri. Anand Madhavan — the great grandson of Shri. V. Krishnaswamy Iyer, who was the first person to bring out some of Maha Kavi Bharathiyar’s early poems in print – drew my attention to a treasure trove of lesser known historic events of pre-independence India (1942-1947), which included the touching act of humanitarianism by Maharaj Jam Saheb Digvijay Singhji, who was the first ruler to open doors to, and save the lives of thousands of Polish refugees during the Second World War.

The magnanimity of the Maharaj and the riveting tale of displacement, despair, migration and resettlement of Polish refugees from the Soviet Union to India, inspired me to write the Symphonic Poem THE JOURNEY – from Despair to Hope, as a fitting tribute to the ‘Maharaj’, ruler of the erstwhile princely state of Nawanagar, Gujarat.

THE JOURNEY begins with a melancholic aria, Lost Souls, penned by Georgina Margarite Ezra, depicting the desolate condition of the Polish children. The pinnacle of this composition is the inclusion of a timeless Tamil poem from ‘Purananooru’, Undaal Amma Ivvulagam, written by the ancient King of the Sangam era, Kadalul Maaindha Ilamperuvazhudhi. The king, through this poem, gave mankind a poetic message about humanitarian values, several centuries ago. This poem has been used as an analogy to highlight the generosity of the Maharaj. The sole credit for choosing this poem and imparting linguistic training to the German singers goes to Shri. V. Muthukumaraguruswamy, and its poetic translation by Georgina, was a potent tool in helping the singers understand the meaning and depth of the Tamil poem”.

‘Undaal Amma Ivvulagam’- An a cappella in Tamil: As a reprise, this classic poem is featured as a bonus track in the album as an a cappella, sung by Shalini Singh Balaji and Keshav Vinod Kumar, thereby giving an Indian twist to conclude the album.

‘Spirit of Humanity’ is an ode to optimism and humanitarianism, supported by a dedicated core team, that includes Dr Prem Venkatesh, the dynamic Project Lead from Scotland, Shri. V. Muthukumaraguruswamy, a spiritual guide, erudite scholar and Chief Linguistic Consultant, and Mrs. Georgina Margarite Ezra, Songwriter, Translator and Linguistic Trainer.

Both the works have been performed and recorded by the Staatskapelle Orchestra, Halle, Germany, under the baton of the renowned conductor Bernd Ruf, comprising 91 instrumentalists, along with 31 singers from the Choir of the Opera Halle, conducted by Markus Fischer.

Special significance

The worldwide release of the album, on June 26th this year, attains special significance due to the fact that the current year 2020, happens to be the 250th birth anniversary of Beethoven, as well as the 75th anniversary, commemorating the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, to the Allied forces in 1945, thereby ending World War II in Europe.

https://navonarecords.com/catalog/nv6292/index.html

The album  can be downloaded from Apple music, Spotify, Amazon music and Arkiv music.

Posted in: Music: Western