For the past twenty-five years, Sri Chinmoy has been travelling the length and breadth of the globe giving concerts of meditative music, offering those who attend the chance to let the music take them on a journey of the heart. This year alone he has given concerts in locations as diverse as Bulgaria, Thailand, Norway and Mongolia. However, this month saw him play closer to his New York home, as he travelled the West Coast of America to packed audiences in the cities of San Francisco and San Diego.
Sri Chinmoy has been singing ever since he was a small boy, and composing meditative music ever since early adolescence. Whilst in the spiritual community where he lived for twenty years, he learned to play the harmonium, a portable Indian version of the organ used to accomplany soulful songs. When he came to the West however, he felt an inner call to expand his capacities and take up more and more instruments to practise. Having freed himself from the mind’s confines through meditation, he is not subject to the usual hesitations and fears about not being good enough that normally occur when an adult takes up an instrument – he just dives straight in and gets joy just by making progress. In the early seventies, he began playing the esraj, a haunting Indian bowed instrument which is often the very first instrument he plays in his concerts. It is Sri Chinmoy’s favourite instrument, and one in which he is now regarded as being amongst the foremost exponents in the world. He went on to enlarge his repertoire to include instruments such as flute (Indian and Western), violin and cello.
In the mid 1980’s, Sri Chinmoy started performing dynamic and spontaneous improvisations on the grand piano. Nowadays, he will often perform similar improvisations on synthesizer, sampler or electronic percussion instruments; often these instruments are ingenious and novel creations by his students. All of this adds up to a very special concert experience for the audience – one in which Sri Chinmoy might be singing a soulful acapello song one minute, playing one of the hundreds of different instruments he has performed on over the years the next minute, and then bringing down powerful meditative energy with his synthesiser improvisations.