Anjali Orchestra

Illustration, Yvonne McGillivray

The Anjali Orchestra is a unique ensemble of  acoustic musicians weaving an intricate tapestry of sounds played on instruments from around the world.

The music is bound together by the musicians’ common interest in sacred and devotional music. Concerts have a contemplative quality, although the music can be both tranquil or dynamic, traditional or contemporary.

The orchestra is comprised of multi-instrumentalists who bring together a huge range of musical influences, particularly from World Music, but including bluegrass, classical and jazz. Musical textures and songs explore new combinations of sounds such as African & Celtic harps with Zen & Sufi flutes, Arabian oud with ukelele, Indian ragas with trombone & double bass.

Adrian Freedman, the founder and musical director of Anjali Orchestra says:

“The inspiration for this group arose from a 10th Century silk triptych that I saw many years ago hanging in a temple in Nara, the ancient capital of Japan.  It depicted a Buddha seated on a cloud, descending from Heaven, surrounded by celestial musicians playing all manner of real and imagined instruments.

It was explained to me that this image, known as Amida Raigo, was a depiction of Amida Buddha of the Pure Land, descending to Earth to receive souls … accompanied by heavenly music, fragrant scents and a shower of lotus petals. Since then I began to wonder what the music of such a celestial orchestra might sound like… thus the seed for Anjali was sown…”

 

Many years later, after meeting many musicians along the way, the orchestra was born at two amazing concerts in Totnes and Brighton in June 2010.

A sacred atmosphere of prayer, meditation and devotion is one of the key features of the Anjali Orchestra, and this is carried through every stage from initial explorations to final public performances. When the musicians gather to rehearse they do so with the shared intention of using meditation and devotional practice to attune to a deep silence from which new music emerges. The end results are just as likely to be infused with elements of joyful celebration as they are with moments of exquisite musical poise.

 

Musicians’ Biographies

Adrian Freedman (Shakuhachi / Flutes / trumpet)
Founder and musical director of the Anjali Orchestra.

Johnny Flynn (Violin / guitar / banjo / trumpet / Mandolin / voice) Johnny Flynn and The Sussex Wit are a touring and recording band that have made two albums and several EP’s over the last few years. Johnny’s training at school was as a classical musician, playing several instruments, but he began writing his own songs and performing them at the age of 16. He trained as an actor after school, and between touring with theatre companies including RSC…and with his band he has been lucky enough to see much of the world.

Asha McCarthy (Cello / Harmonium / Voice) Asha was lead cellist of the National Youth Orchestra from 2002 to 2006. Since 2010 she has been studying Hindustani music on the cello under Smt. Saskia Rao de Haas, and in 2012 she received an Indian Government scholarship to further her studies. Asha has collaborated with musicians from diverse genres such as jazz, world and folk music traditions. Asha sings and also plays piano, guitar and harmonium.

Charlotte Mabon (Voice / Ukelele) Charlotte has been singing in devotional choirs and sacred circles for the last 7 years. She uses song as a meditative practice and started channelling her own music in November 2008. She is currently recording an album of her songs called ‘Song of the Earth’. She just returned from several months in India where she took an introductory course in Indian classical music in Cochin near Rishikesh, and then spent 6 weeks studying Naad Yoga – the yoga of sound – at an ashram in Ram Jhula.

Ravi (Kora / Guitar / Percussion / Voice) Ravi, who was described by Songlines Magazine as “a walking testament to the success of multicuturalism” performs with kora (West African harp), guitar and overtone singing.  Since 1985 Ravi has released over 20 CDs, given concerts internationally, created the unique electric/stereo kora, worked with luminaries such as Baaba Maal, Nigel Kennedy & Jon Lord and created pioneering projects such as The Overtone Choir and “Neuneneu” with Brazilian legend Marlui.

David Beauchamp (Drums / Percussion) David was born and raised in New York City. He has played drums and percussion for about twenty years. He has been a spiritual seeker for almost as long, studying various methods of yoga and meditation. He has been a professional musician for the last seven years, touring with world with bands such as Jeffrey Lewis & the Junkyard, and Johnny Flynn & the Sussex Wit, and others.

Iwan Kushka (Mbira / Oud / Ukelele / Guitar / Bass / Percussion / Voice) Iwan is a well-travelled multi-instrumentalist with a special love for African music. He studied the mbira with Zimbabwean master-player Chartwell Dutiro and is a founding member of the new duo Fana, as well as the mbira orchestra Omviviolum. Iwan also plays guitar, oud (Arabic lute), ukelele, Indian harmonium, and world percussion. His music is woven with poetry, story and song of many different languages from around the world.

Martyn Phillips (Saz / Viola / Bass / Guitar) Martyn has a background of many years in music production. In the 1990s a number of his productions became hits around the world. Londonbeat’s “I’ve Been Thinking About You” topped the charts in 26 countries. Jesus Jones’ “Right Here, Right Now” topped the US charts. Other notable productions came with Erasure, Roachford, The Christians and The Beloved. More recently he has produced several best-selling albums for Deva Premal and Mitten.

Camille Marie (Celtic Harp / voice)  Camille plays devotional harp and sings, focusing on world sacred music. She travels around the world using music and sound as a form of healing. She says “The sound waves of the harp travel effortlessly through the body helping with well being and better health.” She plays for spiritual retreats and singing circles as well as children’s centres and hospitals, and also in one-on-one healing sessions.  She performs with Universal Symphonies and Forest Jewel.

Ravid Goldschmidt (Hang) Captured by the beauty of the Hang’s sound,  the percussionist Ravid left his native country, Spain, to travel to Switzerland to engage himself in the manufacture and study of this amazing percussion tuneful instrument, still unfamiliar to many people.  He has been able to introduce a new technique and become a great Hang master. Ravid moved to Barcelona in 2004 and has been holding concerts throughout Spain and Europe; he has also recorded his own music on several CDs and collaborated with other well known musicians.

Rowan Sterk (Tabla / Percussion / Voice) A Dutch multi-percussionist from Lewes. He uses a broad spectrum of sonically interesting percussion instruments from all over the globe including the tabla, water drums, frame drums, conga’s, darbuka, xylophone, gongs, drumkit, shakers, african drums, etc. At the moment Rowan’s main focus is the tabla, which he studies in India with his teacher, Pankash Suhash. He has played with a great variety of people and bands including Andy Barlow, Carrie Tree, Mezzowave, Sonic Incense, Sacred Sound Collective, Soulful Distortion (A’dam), Justin Love.

 

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