Newsletter January / February 2019


1. India Instruments turns 25... - Invitation to our Summer Party !
2. India Instruments turns 25... - How it All Began
3. Affecting the World (2) - Krishna Das
4. Brief News – Imrat Khan, Chanting, Theatre Productions, Raga-Live-Stream
5. How to Make (Indian) Music? (17) - The Ear as Teacher
6. Workshops – March to May
7. Concerts – March to April

1. India Instruments turns 25... - Invitation to our Summer Party !
- Company info -

Everything officially started with the business registration in 1994 - now India Instruments turns 25... Time to celebrate! Therefore we invite all the world to a big summer party on Saturday, August 17th! Where? At the House of Youth round the corner from our shop in Berlin! The listed old villa in the Argentinische Allee 28 is at our disposal all day long. Its theatre hall with 80 seats and its large enchanted garden with access to a small lake offer a wonderful setting for intense musical enjoyment and carefree summer joys. Within walking distance are the Schlachtensee and the Krumme Lanke with wonderfully refreshing bathing water - popular chill-out lakes for the young international Berlin bohemians.

Haus der Jugend

Our idea: There will be live music all day long in the theatre hall, from noon until late at night, just like at big music festivals in India. Not only classical Indian raga music will be offered, but the whole spectrum of what we - the India Instruments team - and you - our friends and customers - do with Indian instruments. Kirtan to sing along to and different styles of world music will certainly be there. And maybe there will be other music genres as well. In addition to the "official" program in the hall, there might also be an open stage in the garden where things could happen spontaneously. We will invite some befriended artists, but we also encourage you to contribute your ideas and your music to make the festival as colourful and varied as possible! Just contact us if you want to join! However, we can't pay fees - we don't organise a commercial music festival, but a day of mutual encounter, exchange and inspiration.

In addition to live music we would like to offer introductory workshops for Indian instruments and Indian singing. Good opportunities to try something new without obligation and free of charge! In the garden there will be games and fun for children, so that people with children can also enjoy a nice relaxed day with us. Of course we will provide drinks and vegetarian food. And if the weather is bad, the House of Youth offers enough space inside.

The feast depends on you, our guests! Come, come, wherever you are! Share your skills, your visions and your dreams! Get in touch with us if you want to make music, offer a workshop, help with setup and dismantling or contribute in any other way! Let us know what you need in order to have an unforgettable feast! And let us know as early as possible if you want to be there, so that we can plan enough catering... ;-)

Yes, we will be celebrating in Berlin, and for many of you that is very far away. But remember: Berlin is always worth a trip! There is so much to experience and discover on all levels in this big, diverse city. Take the opportunity and combine a visit to our festival with a long weekend or a whole week in Berlin! Get moving and celebrate with us and many like-minded people!

Please send feedback, registrations, suggestions and ideas to - we look forward to hearing from you!

2. India Instruments turns 25... - How it All Began
- Background story by company founder Yogendra -

„You play good. Come to California.“ Ali Akbar Khan told me these six words in 1987, when I participated for the first time in one of his then annual workshops at Ali Akbar College of Music in Basel, Switzerland. Not only did these words shape my life decisively, they also sowed the seeds for the founding of India Instruments. They wouldn't let go of me and in 1991 I was able to realise my dream and study for the first time for two months with Ali Akbar Khan at his college near San Francisco. The money was tight - so I was happy to get a Work Scholarship: I was able to work through part of the tuition fee as an assistant at the Ali Akbar College Store. The store offered a select assortment of Indian musical instruments from leading instrument makers, including accessories, repair services, CDs and books, supervised by a small, highly motivated and highly competent team of active musicians. At the time, this concept was unique in the world and the Ali Akbar College Store supplied music lovers throughout North America. I was able to experience everyday work in the store up close - and was deeply impressed and inspired...

Back in Germany I was a speech performance coach at the theatre institute of the University of Hildesheim and a hobby sitarist with a few students. Looking for instruments for my students, I found that there was no reliable source for good sitars in Europe. I had no choice but to buy instruments for them in India. But why only for my own students? There was certainly a need elsewhere, too! And while I was at it anyway, I could as well bring some extra instruments with me. In 1994, on a study visit to Partha Chatterjee in Kolkata, I packed the first two boxes of Indian instruments for shipment to Germany with Partha's friendly support. And with the business registration back home, India Instruments had been born.

In the middle of the 90s there was neither internet nor email and in Europe there was no magazine for Indian music, no professional training for Indian music, no yoga movement and only a tiny and very scattered community of people playing and teaching Indian instruments. It was completely unthinkable to simply open a shop for Indian musical instruments somewhere and trying to make a living from it. Thus India Instruments remained a tiny little extra business in the early years, which only slowly became better known by word of mouth, built up a reputation and grew. The instruments hung in my living room, cases and packing material were stored in the basement and in the attic. The catalogue was a double-sided piece of paper. Year by year I suffered losses, which I paid from my university salary, in order to build up a basic inventory without funding or high initial debts.

In retrospect the long years of modest level development proved to be a good apprenticeship. I had enough time to aquire basic commercial knowledge, to establish reliable contacts with instrument makers and exporters in India and with Indian musicians in Europe and to test the viability of my vision on a small scale. The soil was prepared and the seeds sown. In the year 2000 the German government sponsored one-man businesses in order to fight unemployment, the digital revolution had simplified communication and administration on all levels, India Instruments had grown slowly but steadily and had earned a good reputation in the community, and the global yoga wave slowly got going. I was ready to make the leap into self-employment and quit my university job to devote myself entirely to working as a freelance sitarist and to building up India Instruments. This marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of India Instruments - which may be told on another occasion...

3. Affecting the World (2) - Krishna Das
- Feature series by Yogendra -

Many people use the sounds of Indian musical instruments to do something good to themselves and to their immediate surroundings. But some musicians are not content with that. They are committed to a more direct positive impact on their fellow human beings and the world around them. We present some of them in a loose sequence.

Krishna Das

In 1970, the 23-year-old American Jeffrey Kagel went to India in search of the meaning of life and met the spiritual master Neem Karoli Baba alias Maharaj-ji. He became his disciple, stayed with Maharaj-ji for more than two years and took on a new name: Krishna Das. Shortly after his return to the USA in 1973, Maharaj-ji died. Krishna Das lost his inner stability and centre of life and lived through two difficult decades in search of new orientation. His work as a musician and music producer gave him some consolation. He finally found his way out of the inner darkness through the practice of chanting, the incessant repetition of the names of God in the tradition of Bhakti Yoga. He had already practiced chanting during his time with Maharaj-ji.

In 1994 Krishna Das began sharing his chanting practice with others at the Jivamukti Yoga Center New York. The response was positive, the circle grew, and Krishna Das developed his own style, to which he is still faithful today: he accompanies himself on the harmonium, adds some basic Western harmonies to the traditional chants and has some additional Western instruments play along. Chants in other places were added and in 1996 his first record One Track Heart was released, which was soon followed by others. The lost seeker became one of the most important pioneers of the modern chanting wave with its mantra and kirtan music. When Krishna Das was nominated for a Grammy in 2013 and was allowed to play at the award ceremony, he was presented as "yoga's rockstar", "worldwide icon" and "best-selling chant artist of all time".

In 2014, at the peak of his success, Krishna Das founded the Kirtan Wallah Foundation. The aim of the foundation is to spread the teachings of Neem Karoli Baba. Serving God by serving humanity is at the core of his message. "Love everyone. Serve everyone. Remember God," he used to say. „Remember God" meaning the chanting practice with the repetition of the divine names. The work of the foundation seems to consist mainly of collecting donations to finance various free offers on Krishna Das' website: Podcasts in which he talks about chanting practice and his master, podcasts in which he answers questions, a blog, video chats and music videos. However, the line between missionary zeal, the stylisation of Krishna Das into a spiritual teacher, pure Krishna-Das-PR and service to humanity is largely blurred.

Convincing examples of Krishna Das' commitment to the greater good, on the other hand, are his benefit actions for a variety of different charitable projects. In recent years, he has supported a rehabilitation program for long-serving prisoners on probation, a Christian addiction relief organisation, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery for women's retreats, aid for earthquake victims in Nepal, a Tibetan monastery in New York, a Tibetan orphanage, aid organisations for autistic children and the blind, and an ecological forest and tiger conservation programme in India. In 2018, his website shows a remarkable five benefit concerts. With his commitment to spirituality, to the weak, excluded and disadvantaged, and to our biosphere, Krishna Das makes himself a real servant of humanity – true to the spirit of his master.

Krishna Das' Website.

4. Brief News – Imrat Khan, Chanting, Theatre Productions, Raga-Live-Stream
- Scene info -

Imrat Khan Imrat Khan: Master of the Surbahar (by Roland Köhler)

Imrat Khan has died on November 22nd at the age of 83 in his adopted home of St.Louis, USA. His life was dedicated to the great legacy of his father Enayat Khan and his grandfather Imdad Khan, perhaps the most important sitarists of the first half of the 20th century. Imrat Khan was not only world famous for his concerts as a sitarist, but was also THE unique performer of the bass version of the sitar, the surbahar. The duets with his older brother Vilayat Khan, with whom he moved from Bombay to Calcutta in 1952, are legendary. In Calcutta they started their world careers and represented at the highest level the highly refined style of the Imdadkhani Gharana. In the 70's and 80's Imrat Khan inspired the public worldwide by touring with his sons Nishat, Irshad, Wajahad and Shafaat. In Germany, the family ensemble gave a memorable performance in Alfred Biolek's television show Bios Bahnhof. Imrat Khan leaves behind an extraordinary wealth of recordings, released worldwide since the 60s. It was an honour for me personally to experience him and his family at home in Calcutta in the 80s. His music lives on in his sons.

Imrat Khans Website.
Imrat Khan's YouTube-channel.

Chant Chanting: New Network Site

Im vorigen Newsletter war sie angekündigt - jetzt ist sie online: Unsere neue Netzwerkseite Chanting! Beim gemeinsamen Chanten geht es um die pure Freude am Singen. Es gibt weder falsche Töne noch ein bestimmtes Ziel - du kannst einfach loslassen, entspannen und dich öffnen. Auf unserer neuen Chanting-Seite findest du regional sortiert Infos zu über 130 Mantrasingkreisen, Bhajangruppen, Chantingtreffen und Festivals, bei denen viel gechantet wird. Vielleicht gibt es ja ein Angebot ganz in deiner Nähe - schau mal rein! Wenn du als Veranstalter*in noch nicht auf der Seite vertreten bist, dann schick uns bitte Infos und Links zu deinem Angebot an - der Eintrag ist selbstverständlich kostenlos.

Chanting Netzwork Site.

Magnificat Theatre Productions with Indian Music: Magnificat, Gandhi, Malala

Magnificat: Baroque meets Ballet meets Raga in the new work by Mario Schröder, chief choreographer of the Leipzig Ballet. The core of the production are the Magnificat by J.S.Bach and the Stabat Mater by G.B.Pergolesi, performed by renowned soloists, the Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Leipzig Opera Choir, danced by the Leipzig Ballet. Stylistically and atmospherically, the baroque sound world is contrasted with music by Indigo Masala, which has its roots in the classical Indian raga tradition. Indigo Masala plays original compositions with sitar, accordion, tabla, percussion and voices - with dazzling colourful sound, grooving rhythmic complexity, exuberant joy of playing and infectious ease. The acclaimed premiere was on February 9th, further performances are scheduled until June.
Magnificat Trailer.
Info, Pictures & dates.

Gandhi: 13-year-old Charlie is fed up with her parents' divorce dispute. Suddenly her great idol Mahatma Gandhi, the hero of India's non-violent struggle for independence, appears to her. Inspired by Gandhi, she goes on a hunger strike to end her parents' conflict. But when she reports about it online and her action goes viral, everything gets out of control. The production of the Dutch puppet theatre Gnaffel in Zwolle is accompanied live by sitar and dholak. The play for children from age 10 runs from February to May.
Further info.

Malala: At the age of 11, the Pakistani Malala Yousafzai stood up against the Taliban, who wanted to close her girls' school. In 2012, she became world-famous when she survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban with serious injury. Since then, she has been campaigning worldwide for children's rights, especially the right of girls to education. At the age of 17, she received the Nobel Peace Price in 2014 for her commitment. Three years later she was appointed UN peace ambassador. The production by Atze Musiktheater (for children aged 10 and over) traces Malala's impressive life with sound collages, video projections, live music (rabab, sitar, tabla) and participative elements. The production has been running since April 2018 and currently has dates in Berlin until June.
Further info.

Ragas in Live-Stream

Concerts with classical Indian raga music at a high level are now held regularly every two weeks on Saturdays in a worldwide live stream. The concerts each last 40 minutes and take place at 20:00 local time in Delhi or at 21:00 local time in Kolkata - this corresponds to 15:30 or 16:30 Central European time. The stream costs 100 Indian Rupees, i.e. converted about 1 Euro. The concerts are organised by Chhandayan, a New York-based non-profit organization, founded in 1998 and dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of classical Indian music. Today Chhandayan organises music classes and concerts in numerous cities in the USA, Canada and India. The mastermind behind Chhandayan is tabla player Samir Chatterjee.

Live stream info.
Chhandayan Website.

5. How to Make (Indian) Music? (17) - The Ear as Teacher
- Quote by Volker Biesenbender -

Volker BiesenbenderThe series "How to Make (Indian) Music?" presents thought-provoking, inspiring or controversial quotes from artists and intellectuals.

I myself have had to experience that everything that goes at the expense of immediate listening experience, that distracts from listening and separates manual processes from the musical process and makes them independent, is ultimately a detour. Those who experience for themselves how safely one is guided by movement through inner hearing, how finger actions are often perceptibly more precise and effortless than through any exercise, will hardly understand how one meant for so long to have to row hard where it is comfortable to sail. And if all this sounds too easy to anyone, because he can only imagine playing an instrument as a laborious Sisyphean task, I would like to answer that there is no stricter teacher and no more incorruptible judge than his own ear.

The German violinist Volker Biesenbender (* 1950) studied classical Western music and intensively explored non-European musical traditions and improvisation. He toured with Yehudi Menuhin, Stéphane Grappelli, Nigel Kennedy, Jordi Savall, Titi Winterstein, L. Subramanian, George Gruntz and Burhan Öcal. In books and essays he pleads for a consistently improvising approach to music. Quote from: Biesenbender, Volker: Von der unerträglichen Leichtigkeit des Instrumentalspiels - Drei Vorträge zur Ökologie des Musizierens; Aarau 1992, p. 56.

6. Workshops – March to May
- Scene info -

Details of all workshops are available in our website's network section.

09.03. BERLIN: Dhrupad with Meghana Sardar
16.03. KIEL: Dhrupad with Meghana Sardar
29.-31.03. NORDSEE: Harmonium Beginner's Seminar with Jürgen Wade
03.-05.04. BAD MEINBERG: Nada, Nadis and Chakras with Anne Engel
06.04. DARMSTADT: Kirtan Workshop with Gaiatrees
12.-14.04. ALLGÄU: Harmonium Beginner's Seminar with Jürgen Wade
04.05. MÜNCHEN: South Indian Rhythm with Rohan Krishnamurthy & Ernst Ströer
10.-12.05. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium Beginner's Seminarwith Katyayani
10.-12.05. FULDA: Konnakol: Door Opener to Rhythm with Magnus Dauner
10.05. BERLIN: Harmonium Workshop with Petros and Visvambhar Sheth
11.05. CH - ST. GALLEN: Harmonium with Manish Vyas
12.-19.05. BAD MEINBERG: Chakras in Nada Yoga with Anne Engel
22.-26.05. POTSDAM: Sitar Intensive with Partha Chatterjee
31.05. BAD MEINBERG: Music from the Source with Maharaj Trio

7. Concerts – March to April
- Scene info -

For details, locations, times and further dates check our concert calendar.

07.03. A - INNSBRUCK: Klaus Falschlunger - Sitar
08.03. BERLIN: Meghana Sardar - Dhrupad
08.03. CH - BADEN: Gautama Buddha - Bharatanatyam Dance Drama
08.03. A - ST. FLORIAN: Klaus Falschlunger - sitar
08.03. EMSDETTEN: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
09.03. CH - BADEN: Gautama Buddha - Bharatanatyam Dance Drama
09.03. PASSAU: Klaus Falschlunger - Sitar
10.03. BERLIN: Soul Kirtan - Harmonium & Khol
12.03. GERA: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
13.03. LEIPZIG: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
14.03. GB - LONDON: Pulkit Sharma - Tabla Solo
15.03. KIEL: Meghana Sardar - Dhrupad
15.03. GB - LONDON: Shakir Khan - Sitar
15.03. F - PARIS: Monica de la Fuente - Dance
15.03. NAUHOF: Klaus Falschlunger - Sitar
15.03. GELNHAUSEN: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
16.03. GB - LONDON: Ayan Sengupta - Sitar
16.03. COLOGNE: Manish Pingle - Slide Guitar
16.03. VIERNHEIM: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
23.03. GB - LONDON: Manoj Murali Nair - Vocal
23.03. REGENSBURG: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
29.03. ANZIG: Sundaram - Kirtan
30.03. GB - LONDON: Punita Gupta - Sitar
30.03. CH - BERN: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
31.03. GB - LONDON: Jayateerth Mevundi - Vocal
31.03. GB - LONDON: Bahauddin Dagar - Rudra Veena
31.03. CH - GENÈVE: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
31.03. BERLIN: VEDA - Kirtan
31.03. BERLIN: Arjun Baba - Kirtan
05.04. ZUSMARSHAUSEN: The Love Keys - Kirtan
05.04. GRUNSTADT: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
05.04. A - LINZ: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
05.04. DARMSTADT: Prema Hara - Kirtan
06.04. DINSLAKEN: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
06.04. F - PARIS: Milind Tulankar - Jaltarang
06.04. GB - LONDON: Hariprasad Chaurasia - Bansuri
06.04. MUNICH: The Love Keys - Kirtan
06.04. A - INNSBRUCK: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
06.04. DARMSTADT: Diverse - Kirtan
07.04. WURZBURG: The Love Keys - Kirtan
07.04. GB - LONDON: T.V.Sankaranarayanan - Carnatic Vocal
09.04. GB - LONDON: Anouskha Shankar - Sitar
09.04. BAD MEINBERG: The Love Keys - Kirtan
11.04. HAMBURG: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
12.04. GB - LONDON: Tad Bharatham - Kathak & Karana
12.04. BAD LIEBENWERDA: The Love Keys - Kirtan
12.04. LUBECK: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
13.04. LEIPZIG: The Love Keys - Kirtan
13.04. SASSNITZ: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
27.04. BERLIN: The Love Keys - Kirtan

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