Last night I enjoyed performing and lecturing at the remarkable Godrej India Culture Lab. I was amazed to see a large corporation running an experimental, interdisciplinary program with the only goal of exploring and seeing what might be possible. Many American corporations have open-ended R & D departments, of course, but they are technical in nature and ultimately the goal is produce revenue-boosting products. Once again I’m impressed with how much energy Indians invest into the arts and creative thinking. Special thanks to Sachin Nikarge and all the good folks at USIEF for initiating this event and bringing me down in such a nice fashion.
Parmesh Shahani runs the India Culture Lab. He’s an intelligent and gregarious man who travels constantly and has an insatiable intellectual curiosity. It was clear he runs a tight ship, but with a healthy dose of irreverent humor. Hi colleague Diane was my host and she showed me around and made sure I was comfortable. She was especially keen to show us the warehouse where they had hosted a large multi-media/audience-participation event the previous year. On a long afternoon over 7,000 people attended the event. Impressive, to say the least.
I started with a short performance of John Cage’s “Solo No. 58” from his opera Song Books, in Dhrupad style. The performance went well, though I’m still quite uncomfortable singing with a microphone. My voice isn’t as stable or rich when amplified, but I think the solution is just to perform more and spend more time with the mic and find the right space. (I have one at home I can practice with.) After I sang for a bit I gave a lecture on Indian/America fusion music, especially the music of Terry Riley, Michael Harrison, Shawn Mativetsky, and Reena Esmail. The audience seemed to enjoy the talk and I fielded many good questions afterwards. I always enjoy sharing my music with non-specialists. They often hear music in ways I don’t since I’m so deeply entrenched in the technical aspects of being a professional musician. All in all, it was a fabulous way to end a life-changing Fulbright experience.