Raga Rageshree is an evening raga with a romantic and sentimental mood. Above is the video of my performance of Rageshree at Jalopy Theatre in Brooklyn, New York. I was fortunate to be accompanied by Mir Naqibul Islam again, a great player and all around good guy I had the pleasure of meeting just a couple months ago when Mir came up to accompany my concerts at Wendy Redlinger’s House Concert Series and at Stone Church Arts. This particular concert in Brooklyn was part of a weekly series hosted by Brooklyn Raga Massive; a collective promoting Indian classical music and exploring fusion that has been getting a lot of great press of late.
This concert was another milestone for me because of Brooklyn Raga Massive’s excellent reputation worldwide: anytime the topic of me being from southern Vermont comes up, fellow musicians and concert organizers always say, “Well, BRM is just near there. Absolutely you must play there!” The competition to get noticed can be a little stiff and their calendar booked up months in advance, up until this year my requests for a concert were mostly unnoticed. This year was different, however, and I take it as a sign that my constant riyaz (practice), promotions and touring are gaining momentum. My concert was very well received and I look forward to becoming more a part of the Brooklyn Raga Massive scene in the years to come.
An added treat of performing at BRM’s Weekly series was staying with Mir and meeting several of the other musicians in the scene. I was quite amazed to find out that every single musician I met, I was already connected to through Indian classical music. For instance, I met a young American sitarist who studied in Delhi with Dr. Gopal Krishan Shah at Delhi University. Well, Gopalji was the one to take me to two of my first major stages in India with Suraj Nirwan back in 2016. He was gracious enough to allow me to play a short piece before him at the Moradabad Swar Deep Yagya; this was a pivotal concert for me on a prestigious platform that continues to be one of my main “credentials” when talking with concert organizers in India. (The other concert was in Deeg, Rajasthan at a Gaushala!) It’s truly a small world of Indian classical music. With such close connections spanning thousands of miles, my belief that we can work together and popularize this music is strengthened.
These days I’m back in our studio apartment in Brattleboro, Vermont, counting the days until I travel to India at the end of the year. Already I am booking concerts for 2020 over there. It seems that to start out, Kees van Boxtel and I will perform together as Sacred Groves at Himanshu Nanda’s Mystic Bamboo Baithak in Pune on January 12. Of course I will keep you updated here.
Thanks very much for your support of my music, wishing you and yours all the very best,
Joel ‘Veena’ Eisenkramer