Grooving with Japaka Orchestra
- This past weekend I spent grooving with the Japaka Orchestra in
Bratislava. One quick phone call was all it took - "We are giving a
concert, you want to come?" They were short of a bass player.
Remembering the fun time I had had with them in New York and the
impromptu concert last April it didn't take me long to decide.
We practiced at the Madal Bal warehouse, famous for its vast array of
tools. The drills, screws and chainsaws provided a somewhat
surrealistic backdrop to the soulful and cheerful melodies of Sri
Chinmoy and Japaka's charming, upbeat arrangements of them. We had
pizza for lunch.
The concert was scheduled in the evening. It wasn't a full house, but
on a sunny Saturday evening fifty or so souls had preferred
"meditation music in fancy arrangement" - as the poster had announced
- to more exotic pastimes or locations.
It was a joy and delight to sing and play Sri Chinmoy's songs for a
live audience. I am all admiration to the group both for their
enthusiasm and their musicality. I wouldn't go the length of calling
their arrangements "fancy"; "joyful" or "dynamic" would perhaps be
more to the point. But that may be the language barrier.
When sheets of paper were handed out among the crowd and the band
started the evergreen sing-along "Doubt is in the mind/Faith is in the
soul/Love is in the heart/Bliss is in the goal", all hearts in the
audience were won over. During the more soulful arrangements we could
feel the harmony flowing, resonating and reverberating throughout the
theatre. Fifty beaming smiles were our reward at the end of the night.
Perhaps the only person a little doubtful about our performance was
the caretaker of the hall, a red-bearded, pony-tailed and somewhat
heavily built gentleman, obviously used to a more down-to-earth type
"It was very good music for sleeping," he remarked with a twinkle in
his eye. Although he hastened to say that he understood we were of a
different breed than his usual cup of tea and that was fine.
I took it as a compliment anyway.