- Oct 12, 2009Recently St-Petersburg had it's inaugural Songs of the Soul concert. I had the good fortune of being able to participate and I thought members of this group might be interested in hearing about it. The concert was on the evening of Oct 4 and it was preceded by 2 days of Joy Days just outside of St-Petersburg on the Gulf of Finland. It was really a fantastic experience. Most of my days were taken up by rehearsal for the Gandharva Loka Orchestra but during Friday and Saturday there were ongoing functions including several music groups, slide shows, presentations and meditation. Many Westerners shared stories about their experiences with Sri Chinmoy. I don't know how many people attended but I would guess about 400. There was an excellent production of the Buddha play (I enjoyed it in spite of not understanding the words). There was even a 6k race on the beach on Saturday morning. Everyone was smiling and smiling. It was a little cool and rainy, but awesome!
For me it was mostly a lot of music and it's always extra special when there is a language barrier. When you play with other musicians and it's impossible to communicate with words, music truly becomes a practical and pragmatic universal language. I put together a little group with Anton, Sacha, Nikolai, Sacha and Andrei and we played at the joy day functions as well as one song at the concert. I also became good friends with the boys from Blue-Gold Shore of the Beyond, the music group from Siberia....and all but one of them spoke about as much English as I speak Russian (that's next to none). These boys travelled 6 days by train to be there. I have a group picture and more about the week-end at www.pavaka.com.
I believe that the concert itself was attended by about 1500 people, but I'm not sure about that number. From what I understand the audience (many young people as the hall was the St-Petersburg Conservatory) was very inspired and most people stayed for the whole 2.5 hours. I've since spoken to some of my new friends and they continued to express their inspiration. One boy told me that the handful of Western visitors that made the trip had the effect of bringing New York or the Christmas Trip to Russia. It was that kind of feeling. Having gone through a fair amount of trouble getting my visa, I certainly came to appreciate how difficult it is for many Russians to get to New York or elsewhere. This project felt like we were bringing the "family" closer together. Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard on this!