The South Asian Symphony Foundation (SASF) has completed one year of its existence. Our mission is to connect India more closely with South Asia, our neighbourhood – a shared civilizational and geographical space. We are deeply intertwined with this neighbourhood because the air we breathe, the weather patterns we encounter, the resources we share, the languages we speak, and the religions we practice, are all linked together in a magical web that envelopes us as one. War and Peace impact us equally. South Asia is indeed an integer.
The South Asian Symphony Orchestra, called Chiragh or the lamp that illuminates, is the creation of The SASF. It is an Indian creation, with a heart that is South Asian. Our musicians from India and the neighbourhood as well as the diaspora of Indian and South Asian origin, play music together, break bread together, and rediscover their shared heritage as denizens of the subcontinent.
Orchestras cultivate mutual empathy, and the necessity for us to learn the art of listening to each other. Listening, as has been said elsewhere, is itself an act of love. And music is our basic human right. The effort is to demonstrate that we, as citizens can build channels of people-to-people communication and exercise cultural diplomacy. The creation of musical repertoire for orchestra performance based on the folk, classical and popular music of the region is also an important focus of these efforts. Indian musicians and musicians from the other South Asian countries are thus able to craft a shared musical identity that brings their region to the world. This creates a distinct identity for the subcontinent of India and South Asia that is rich, composite, and yet plural.
The Foundation’s flagship event, Chiragh was held at the NCPA, Mumbai, on April 26, 2019. The Vice-President of India, Shri Venkaiah Naidu, graced the occasion. Musicians from India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and some from the South Asian diaspora in the United States and Europe, under the baton of Viswa Subbaraman (Indian American conductor from Houston, U.S.) came together to perform a repertoire that featured, inter alia, the music of the region, including India, as well as western classical composers. The event began with the invocation: Maitreem Bhajata, in Sanskrit, an ode to peace and amity among all, composed by the Shankaracharya of Kanchi in 1966. One piece, Hamsafar specially commissioned for the concert included Kashmiri and Afghan musicians with traditional instruments like the Rabab, Santoor and Tanpur, as well as percussion. Another piece, Bhadke also commissioned especially for the concert, was based on a popular Hindi film song from the 1950’s. Links to the concert music can be accessed on YouTube: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IELW7jcTRM&list=PLvbI5gVL8j8_qP6c7rzcyfXiFkw_R S0-O)
The SASF plans two concerts in the next few months – one in Bengaluru in October to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and the second at the Partition Museum in Amritsar, Punjab in January 2020. The Orchestra is expanding reach to include musicians of Indian and South Asian descent from Singapore.
Diplomacy is a process that is people-centred, and at the level of ordinary citizens there is scope for every one to be citizen-diplomats, reach out across territorial borders to build bridges between peoples, especially in the field of the creative arts, music being one of them. The love of music touches the core of human existence, bridging divides, connecting diverse sets of people and nations, creating a positive momentum for human contact and communication even among adversaries. What is required is the development of a globalised vision that stresses a humanitarian agenda for the region, built on closer people to-people ties, and citizen-driven cultural diplomacy.
The South Asian Symphony Foundation welcomes your support and help to sustain its mission and carry it forward for the purpose of building a community of creative expression, mutual empathy and understanding between India and her neighbours
Currently, we are only able to accept donations from Indian residents in Indian Currency. To support the orchestra and be a part of the foundation, please find below the bank transfer details:
Account Name: The South Asian Symphony Foundation
Account Number: 50200033192152
Bank Name: HDFC Bank
Branch Name: Church Street, Bengaluru
IFSC Code: HDFC0001751
After initiating a donation, please also send us an email, so we can issue a receipt against the same. We thank you for your support.