“Bharat Symphony (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam)”
Preeminent Indian classical violinist/composer Dr. L. Subramaniam has released a standout pandemic-inspired video for “Bharat Symphony (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam),” a song from a forthcoming Bharat Symphony album recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra and London Voices, soloist Kavita Krishnamurti, and more than a score of stellar featured musicians from India and beyond.
The three-and-a-half minute clip shows the London Symphony’s recording session, intercut with the contributions of the others, most notably Krishnamurti, long one of Bollywood’s top playback singers (and Subramaniam’s wife). Subramaniam’s son Ambi Subramaniam (violin) and daughter Bindu Subramaniam (vocals) are also showcased.
Other key participants include Bollywood playback singer Sonu Nigam, Bollywood legend Hema Malini, Norwegian tuba soloist Oystein Baadsvik, experimental koto player/composer Miya Masaoka, Hungarian classical cimbalom player Jeno Lisztes, famed Indian classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj, renowned Indian percussionist Tanmoy Bose, mridangam drum maestro DSR Murthy, legendary Chicago blues harmonica player/pianist Corky Siegel and jazz saxophone great Ernie Watts.
“In these times of stress and trouble all musicians are coming together,” says Subramaniam. “Music has always been one of the most important factors to spread peace and harmony in the world.”
The “Bharat Symphony (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam)” video “has many facets to it,” notes Subramaniam.
“We had shot this on simple gadgets, and the artists from around the world recorded [their parts] from home and sent them to us. Everyone understood the sentiments of it as being a valid statement today during the difficult times when everybody should unite.”
The song itself is the last part of the fourth movement of the Bharat Symphony, and is defined by Subramaniam as “universal in character, since it could be sung and played by any musician from around the world: It uses the phrase from the ancient Hindu spiritual books—the Upanishads--which were originally written in Sanskrit.”
“Bharat” is the poetic Hindi name for India, originating in the classical Sanskrit language. “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam” is a Sanskrit phrase meaning “The world is one family”: The original verse appears in the Maha Upanishad (and the religious Vedas texts) and is considered one of the most important moral values in Indian society. In fact, it is engraved in the entrance hall of the India’s parliament.
“Bharat Symphony is a tapestry of Indian culture in four movements, symbolizing the four major periods of Indian musical heritage,” continues Subramaniam, namely, the prehistoric Vedic period, the Mughal period, the British Raj period and the Post-Independence period.
The City of Chicago commissioned Subramaniam to write Bharat Symphony to celebrate the 70th year of India’s independence. It premiered at the Chicago World Music Festival in September, 2017, at Millennium Park, performed by Subramaniam, soloist Krishnamurti, and a hundred-member orchestra, before an estimated 10,000 people.
Subramaniam expects to release the full Bharat Symphony later this year. The video for “Bharat Symphony (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam)” tallied over 175,000 Facebook views in the two days following its release on Wednesday.
“Something is now much more clear--but has always been true,” says Siegel. “We are in one boat and there’s no shore: We are all connected to each other and to nature. It's both philosophical and spiritual--and absolutely practical. Subramaniam once said to me, ‘You can’t change people’s minds with words, but you might change their hearts with song.’ I can’t think of someone who can change people’s minds with their song more than Dr. L. Subramaniam and his family.”
They also epitomize the title of Subramaniam’s acclaimed 1999 album Global Fusion, Siegel adds.
“It’s the fusing into one, in the minds of many, what is already one,” Siegel explains. “So this project hits the head of the nail, brings it on home, places it right in the lap of humanity.”
Concludes Watts: “I am proud to be part of Dr. Subramaniam’s ‘the world is one’ recording and its message of world unity, especially during this time. Truly we all are one.”