June 8: Playing For The Planet — World Music Against Climate Change

On Saturday, June 8, the nineteenth “Playing For The Planet” benefit concert will showcase master musicians from three different musical traditions in a rare and joyful pan-cultural evening, with all proceeds going to benefit the environmental advocacy group 350MA.org.  The lineup includes virtuoso multi-instrumentalist Lloyd Thayer; Swedish/Celtic music from Sunniva Brynnel & Yaniv Yacoby; and the brilliant young Hindustani vocalist, Samarth Nagarkar.  The music begins at 7:00 pm, at The Community Church Of Boston, 565 Boylston Street (Copley Square), Boston.  Admission is $20; $15 students & seniors.  For information, please call 781-330-8032, or email theclimatemessage@gmail.com.

“…Senders possesses a gift for assembling fascinating programs.” 
— Andrew Gilbert, The Boston Globe —

“Playing For The Planet: World Music Against Climate Change” is the nineteenth concert in an ongoing series of cross-cultural events produced by Boston-area musician and environmental activist Warren Senders.  These concerts were conceived as a way for creative musicians to contribute to the urgent struggle against global warming.   Their choice of beneficiary, 350MA.org, is focused on building global consensus on reduction of atmospheric CO2 levels — action which climatologists agree is necessary to avoid catastrophic outcomes. 


Because the climate problem recognizes no national boundaries, the artists represent musical styles from three different parts of the globe, and share key musical values: listening, honesty, creativity, and respect. And, of course, they are all committed to raising awareness of the potentially devastating effects of global warming.  It’ll be an incredible evening of powerful music — from some of the finest musicians in New England and the world.

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About The Artists

Lloyd Thayer puts the ‘multi’ in multi-instrumentalist, playing a mind-boggling assortment of stringed instruments including (but not limited to): 22-stringed Indian Chaturangui, Dobro and Weissenborn lap steel guitars, Turkish Oud, Saz and Cumbus, Ragmakamtar, Afghan Rabab and more.

Lloyd Thayer

A recovering street performer and determined songwriter, his indoor shows combine a mixture of American folk and blues with elements of Indian, Arabic, Turkish, and Southeast Asian musical ideas, sometimes all in the course of the same song!

“Thayer plays with prismatic imagination and an emotional depth that captivates. “
— Sing Out Magazine —


Accordionist/singer Sunniva Brynnel and bouzouki player Yaniv Yacoby met at the New England Conservatory, Boston. They have built a repertoire evenly divided between the folk musics of Sweden and Ireland, capturing the exquisite expression of both traditions with creativity, fidelity, and playfulness.

Sunniva Brynnel & Yaniv Yacoby

Originally from Sweden, Sunniva Brynnel is an accordionist, vocalist and composer within jazz, improvised music and folk music, coming from a lineage of seven generations of female musicians.  Her mother – a Swedish folk singer – is one of her major influences.   Since coming to the Boston area to complete a degree in Contemporary Improvisation at New England Conservatory, she has collaborated and performed with many artists, including Night Tree, Blå Dager, and Druids & Androids.

Yaniv Yacoby is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and computer scientist based in Boston. He graduated from Harvard in May of 2015, earning a B.A. in Computer Science and earned a M.M. in Contemporary Improvisation from New England Conservatory in 2016.  Yaniv has collaborated with numerous musicians in the Boston area, including pianist Chase Morrin, fiddler Eric Boodman, and ensemble Blue Thread.


Samarth Nagarkar is a Hindustani classical vocalist, known for his captivating performances and traditionally rich music.  One of the most creative khyaliyas of his generation,  Samarth was trained in the strict guru-shishya tradition at ITC Sangeet Research Academy, Kolkata, under Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar and Pandit Dinkar Kaikini.

Samarth Nagarkar

A torchbearer of his traditions, Samarth features in prominent music festivals and venues in India and abroad including The ITC Sangeet Sammelans, The United Nations, World Music Institute, Chhandayan All Night Concert, Ragas Live Festival at the Rubin Museum of Art, Kashinath Bodas Festival, The Winter Garden Festival and The International Fringe Festival.

He is a recipient of a Fellowship from the Ministry of Culture, Government of India and a President’s Award in the All India Radio National Music Competition. On June 8 he will be joined by Ramchandra Joshi (harmonium) and Naikaj Pandhya (tabla).


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About 350MA.org and the Better Future Project

Co-founded by environmentalist and author Bill McKibben, 350.org is the hub of a worldwide network of over two hundred environmental organizations, all with a common target: persuading the world’s countries to unite in an effort to reduce global levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million or less. Climatologist Dr. James Hansen says, “If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 400 ppm to at most 350 ppm.” (Dr. Hansen headed the NASA Institute for Space Studies in New York City, and is best known for his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in the 1980s that helped raise broad awareness of the global warming issue.) Activists involved in the 350 movement include Rajendra Pachauri (Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), Vandana Shiva (world-renowned environmental leader and thinker), Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1984 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and a global activist on issues pertaining to democracy, freedom and human rights), Van Jones, Bianca Jagger, Barbara Kingsolver and many more.


350MA.org is the Massachusetts Chapter of this worldwide advocacy group, and the hub for the Better Future Project, a Cambridge-based climate organizing nonprofit founded in January 2011. In spring 2012, Better Future Project staff began a series of meetings and conversations with fellow activists about the need for a grassroots climate network in Massachusetts. Those conversations grew out of many years of collaboration on 350.org actions and events, and they led to the creation of 350 Massachusetts for a Better Future as a volunteer-led, campaign-focused network.


About the Community Church of Boston

The Community Church of Boston is a free community united for the study and practice of universal religion, seeking to apply ethical ideals to individual life and the democratic and cooperative principle to all forms of social and economic life. We invite you to read on to discover more about us, join us one Sunday for a thought-provoking and joyful time, or contact the church to find out more about our community: info@communitychurchofboston.org


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Music Is A Climate Issue — Endangered Musics: Sunda

I am not a climate scientist. I’m a scientifically literate musician. Climate change scares me for dozens of reasons. And it makes me deeply and terribly sad.

With rising sea levels, many island nations will lose much of their land, or even cease to exist. Which raises the question:

What music will become extinct?

A look at the list of island nations gives you a sense of what’s at stake. A large nation, like Indonesia, will experience incredible economic impacts and the forced inland migrations of entire regional populations. Perhaps millions of people will be forced by rising sea levels to abandon their homes and their traditions. A small island nation may find its land area reduced to the point of unsustainability; its culture and population forced into refugee status.

Languages will become diluted and eventually dissipate. Cultural forms (like dance, drama, traditional storytelling, and music) will lose much of their context and setting, eventually becoming preserved by a few interested afficionadi as “museum pieces” — no longer embodied as living, breathing traditions.

There are a lot of island nations. Each one has its own music.

For example, in Indonesia, there is an ethnic group called the Sunda:

The Sundanese are of Austronesian origins who are thought to have originated in Taiwan, migrated though the Philippines, and reached Java between 1,500BCE and 1,000BCE.[2]

According to the Sundanese legend of Sangkuriang, which tells the creation of Mount Tangkuban Parahu and ancient Lake Bandung, the Sundanese have been living in the Parahyangan region of Java for at least 50,000 years.[citation needed]

Inland Sunda is mountainous and hilly, and until the 19th century, was thickly forested and sparsely populated. The Sundanese traditionally live in small and isolated hamlets, rendering control by indigenous courts difficult. The Sundanese, in contrast to the Javanese, traditionally engage in dry-field farming. These factors resulted in the Sundanese having a less rigid social hierarchy and more independent social manners.[1] In the 19th century, Dutch colonial exploitation opened much of the interior for coffee, tea, and quinine production, and the highland society took on a frontier aspect, further strengthening the individualistic Sundanese mindset.[1]

Court cultures flourished in ancient times, for example, the Sunda Kingdom, however, the Sundanese appear not to have had the resources to construct large religious monuments similar to those in Central and East Java.[1]

Wikipedia says around 27 million people speak Sunda. That’s a lot of people.

Here’s some of their music. It’s beautiful.

This music is called Kacapi Suling, a style which developed in the 1970s. The name simply refers to the instruments involved. There are two stringed instruments (kacapi) and a flute (suling):

The Sundanese zither (kacapi) often serves to represent Sundanese culture. It plays as either a solo or an ensemble instrument, associated with both villagers and aristocrats. The instrument may take the form of a boat in tembang Sunda, or the form of a board zither in kacapian.

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In a typical performance (still primarily in recordings, as kacapi-suling is rarely performed live), the kacapi player outlines a cyclic structure of a song and the suling player improvises a melody based on the original song from the tembang Sunda repertoire. Kacapian refers to a flashy style of playing a board zither, and it is known as one of the sources of Sundanese popular music. It can be accompanied by a wide variety of instruments, and can be played instrumentally or as the accompaniment to either a male or female vocalist.

Link

What will rising sea levels, an acidified ocean, and drastically increased heat do to Sunda, and to the rest of Indonesia?

Climate Change in Indonesia:

The devastating impact of global warming is already evident in Indonesia and will likely worsen due to further human-induced climate change, warns WWF.

The review from the global conservation organization, Climate Change in Indonesia – Implications for Humans and Nature, highlights that annual rainfall in the world’s fourth most populous nation is already down by 2 to 3 per cent, and the seasons are changing.

The combination of high population density and high levels of biodiversity, together with a staggering 80,000 kilometres of coastline and 17,500 islands, makes Indonesia one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change.

Shifting weather patterns have made it increasingly difficult for Indonesian farmers to decide when to plant their crops, and erratic droughts and rainfall has led to crop failures. A recent study by a local research institute said that Indonesia had lost 300,000 tonnes of crop production every year between 1992-2000, three times the annual loss in the previous decade.

Climate change in Indonesia means millions of fishermen are also facing harsher weather conditions, while dwindling fish stocks affect their income. Indonesia’s 40 million poor, including farmers and fishermen, will be the worst affected due to threats including rising sea levels, prolonged droughts and tropical cyclones, the report said.

“As rainfall decreases during critical times of the year this translates into higher drought risk, consequently a decrease in crop yields, economic instability and drastically more undernourished people,” says Fitrian Ardiansyah, Director of WWF-Indonesia’s Climate and Energy Programme. “This will undo Indonesia’s progress against poverty and food insecurity.”

WWF’s review shows that increased rainfall during already wet times of the year may lead to high flood risk, such as the Jakarta flood of February this year that killed more than 65 people and displaced nearly half a million people, with economic losses of US$450 million.

Climate change impacts are noticeable throughout the Asia-Pacific region. More frequent and severe heat waves, floods, extreme weather events and prolonged droughts will continue to lead to increased injury, illness and death. Continued warming temperatures will also increase the number of malaria and dengue fever cases and lead to an increase in other infectious diseases as a result of poor nutrition due to food production disruption.

Link.

Sunda Islands Part of the coral triangle, one of the most diverse coastal areas. Already at threat from destructive fishing and reef fish trade.

Link.

A Great Tree Has Fallen: Asad Ali Khan, R.I.P.

This Tuesday, June 14, the world of music lost a great spirit.

Ustad Asad Ali Khan, one of the few remaining performers on the ancient Indian stringed instrument called the Rudra Veena, passed away after suffering a heart attack in the early hours of the morning.

He performed an austere and sober style of music, an instrumental version of the vocal style known as Dhrupad, which dates back to the 11th century or so. The Rudra Veena, or Been, is considered to be one of the oldest instruments of Indian tradition; it has its own origin myth, which states that the instrument sprang full-blown from the forehead of a meditating Lord Shiva. It is interesting that Asad Ali Khan, whose name makes his Muslim ancestry evident, saw no religious conflict in embracing this story; ecumenicism in Indian musical traditions is alive and well.

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Jazz Photoblogging

I love photographing musicians — probably because I’m a musician myself, and it’s a wonderful challenge to capture some of the immediacy of live performance on film.

There have been two times in my life when I was really active in music photography.  Once in the mid-1980s when I was living in India, and had the chance to get pictures of many of the Subcontinent’s greatest artists in concert, in rehearsal, and in private.  And once in the mid-1970s when I was still in high school and had access to the school darkroom…and I took the Miranda SLR my father had given me to dozens of jazz concerts.

I had made a firm decision that I would not use flash; I did not wish to disturb the musicians by popping flashbulbs while they played. So I used high-speed film, underexposed and overdeveloped (a procedure known as “pushing” – I used Tri-X, pushed to ASA 1600, for all you b&w old-timers out there).

I got some good results, too. Here are a few images I’m particularly happy with:

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A Blast from the Past: Anant Manohar Joshi (1881-1967)

Here are four short performances by Pandit Anant Manohar Joshi, also called “Antubuwa.” Disciple of Balakrishnabua Ichalkaranjikar and “Bhugandharva” Ustad Rahmat Khan. Guru of Dr. S.N. Ratanjankar; father and guru of Pandit Gajananrao Joshi. Anant Manohar Joshi was born in Kinhai village, March 8, 1881. His father Manoharbuwa had learned classical styles from Raojibuwa Gogte of Ichalkaranji, and became a court musician at Aundh. He died when Anant was seven. Antubuwa became one of the top-most performers of traditional Gwalior style khyal, although he never achieved the fame of his guru-bhai, Vishnu Digambar Paluskar. “A powerful voice, daanedaar taans, and clear pronunciation of words characterised his rich and systematic style” according to Susheela Mishra (“Some Immortals of Hindustani Music”). He died in Bombay on September 12, 1967.

These short performances show Antubuwa at the end of his career. His voice is no longer flexible and his intonation is somewhat coarse, but the vigorous spirit remains.

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What music will become extinct?

Every day, more bad news on climate change.

Fortunately, we’ve recently begun to initiate the process of agreeing on a framework for the development of a concept that will allow us to frame the discussion which will impact the structuring of a procedure for developing a methodology that makes it possible to begin to finally PAY SOME ATTENTION TO A GLOBAL CRISIS!

I am not a climate scientist. I’m a scientifically literate musician. Climate change scares me for dozens of reasons. And it makes me deeply and terribly sad.

With rising sea levels, many island nations will lose much of their land, or even cease to exist. Which brings me to tonight’s question:

What music will become extinct?

more »