Thursday, July 21, 2005

Thiruvasagam in Symphony - Scintillating

Illaiyaraja's 'Thiruvasagam - A classical crossover' is something no Indian must miss.
Thiruvasagam is an ancient Tamil literary work by Saint Maanikavaasagar in praise of Lord Shiva. That the language is Tamil must not prevent anyone from listening to it. In fact, even Tamilians find it difficult to understand Maanikavaasagar's classical Tamil. But what puts it in the 'must listen' category is that it has the 'Illaiyaraja magic'. If you like good music, go for it.
According to the TIS Web site "This project is an unique attempt to present select verses from the Thiruvasakam in a musical form, synthesising ideas from both the Indian and Western classical traditions. The main objective of this project is to bring masterpieces from India's spiritual traditions, such as the Thiruvasagam, to the attention of the younger generation."
The project involves more than 200 musicians from India and Hungary, including the Budapest Symphony Orchestra conducted by Laszlo Kovacs. The English translation of the selected verses has been done by Mr. Stephen Schwartz, the Oscar award winning lyricist of Pocahontas and Prince of Egypt. The final mastering has been done by Richard King, the 2004 Grammy winner for the Best Engineered Album in the Classical category.
This is the first time such a crossover music has been attempted. An Oratorio is a musical composition with religious, serious, or philosophical text for chorus, orchestra, and soloists. And blending an ancient Indian literary work with the Western Oratorio format is not easy. But Illaiyaraja has managed to do it.
And the more you listen, the work grows on you.