All the Melodies of the Universe

pavaka-SOTS-Prague“It was like he was touching all the melodies of the Universe.” Pavaka describes his first impression of Sri Chinmoy’s music when he first heard it. That was 14 years ago when he first became one of his students. Now he has just released his second CD based on some of those same melodies. He says that in his new CD he is trying to more powerfully embody what he describes as the ‘universal aspect,’ of Sri Chinmoy’s music.

“It is a very challenging project as a musician. I would say it is the most challenging thing I have ever tried to do.” He says that what he is attempting to accomplish is to take his teacher’s spiritual music and by using his understanding and abilities as a ‘regular musician’ translate that spirituality so that it might sound more familiar to western ears.

SCAN0115The result of his efforts is not only a fine new CD but also a new understanding in himself of the direction he wants to take with his life. He feels a new fulfillment in focusing almost exclusively and creatively on Sri Chinmoy’s music and says, “I am no longer interested in playing any other kind of music.”

His first CD he describes as being an almost 10 year effort to produce. Before it was finished he sent some of the recorded tracks to New York for SriChinmoy to listen to and he was very pleasantly surprised to hear later how much it was appreciated by his teacher. He was also surprised to find that children as well seemed to enjoy the eventually completed CD. He tells me he has heard many stories from parents that their kids wanted to hear it again and again.

He had performed for Sri Chinmoy on several occasions and on each he was encouraged by his teacher. It was however in June of 2007 that he made his last and his most memorable performance for his teacher. It was a brief solo concert, of what he calls his looping bass piece. At the end of which Sri Chinmoy is heard to say, “very nice, very nice.” Pavaka says that the recording of that performance is something he will always cherish. “That has meant a lot to me.” Pavaka, June 23, 2007

He has now become a regular on the Songs of the Soul concert tour. He describes however that his live performances are quite different from his recordings. The main difference being that in the recordings he has access to an ensemble of musicians, where in concert he doesn’t have the same luxury. He calls his live performances, “little bits of this and that. You don’t really get a chance to dig in.” Yet he is very inspired by the concert format which now has staged concerts in many countries across Europe and North America. He says, “it is a privilege to share Sri Chinmoy’s music that way.”

Steph-violoncelleHis own introduction to music came at the very tender age of 4 or 5 when he first took up cello lessons at his home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He tells me that he started composing his own original works almost as soon as he learned how to write music. He thinks he was about 8 or 9 when he first did this. He took great delight in his new found love of composition. He remembers asking his Mom at what age Mozart was when he first started composing. He laughs even now as he describes her answer. “He was 4 but he was a genius.”

This did little to discourage him. He continued to study the instrument for 10 years when he was then inspired to enter whole-heartedly into the world of rock music. He tells me that he decided to dedicate himself to the bass guitar which he selected because he mistakenly thought was tuned the same as a cello. He was surprised to discover that in fact it was not.

After a short time of learning the bass guitar he devoted himself to trying to create rock music that represented his own French-Canadian sensibilities. He felt there was lots of 90’s rock music that understood the mood and culture of English speakers across the spectrum but very little at all the represented his own French perspective. He says, “I performed a lot, with a lot of different groups, and in a lot of different venues. There just wasn’t any good French heavy rock so we will write it. So we did rock in fact.”

Pavaka-circa-1993ish-3He describes that of course his tastes have changed dramatically as he himself has immersed himself in his spiritual path. He still feels however that spiritual music has yet to be expressed adequately in the popular world. That in fact there is a need for spiritual music to be expressed in Pop, rock, jazz, and all other more traditional forms of music. His own hope is that on his part he can bring forward Sri Chinmoy’s consciousness into this world so that more can appreciate and be inspired by it.

Picture by Unmesh

He says that there are many of his musician friends who are concentrating solely on presenting soulful interpretations of his teacher’s music. For himself though, he is clearly inspired and focused on bringing forward his teacher’s music in a dynamic and pragmatic way. He feels there is a real need and a wish in audiences worldwide to have access to this inspiring music. He hopes as well that his music can both entertain the mind and also perhaps offer some consciousness to the heart at the same time.

He feels that of all of Sri Chinmoy’s music his keyboard compositions were his favorites. In his own way he tries to imbue his guitar playing with some of the same form and intensity that Sri Chinmoy seemed to use so instinctively well. When referring to them he calls Sri Chinmoy’s works as, “brilliant pieces of music. When he played on the organ in particular I think it was phenomenal.”

CIMG3430On a warm afternoon in August Pavaka quietly released his second CD. Most of the musicians who had helped in the recording were there to help launch a project that he had worked on painstakingly and with real devotion for many months. It was a quiet affair that can best be described as neither dramatic nor pretentious. It was simply Pavaka and friends sweetly and beautifully playing their teacher’s music.

The little concert also in a way marked a major change in the course of Pavaka’s life. He had just recently terminated his job and was now Pavaka-SOTSembarking on a new direction in his life. One in which recording and performing Sri Chinmoy’s music was taking a more center stage in his life. When he is asked whether performing live or people listening to his CD is more important he says simply, “what I am interested in is people listening to Sri Chinmoy’s music.”

He laughs now at the difficulties and challenges involved in the current CD’s creation. His first recording was well received and he thus felt a real challenge in surpassing and transcending his first effort. He received lots of input in trying to make it listenable and that the spiritual aspect of it fit in seamlessly and naturally. He is confident that he is fulfilling an inspiration that comes from within to be more involved in the musical world. His teacher on many opportunities encouraged him to take this path. Sri Chinmoy praised his first CD and as I listen to the sweet full rich sound of the new one I am sure he would appreciate this one even more.

6 thoughts on “All the Melodies of the Universe”

  1. Ah! Not only a brilliant musician but the kid gets to wear Velcro trainers. Life is so unfair. Natty waistcoat and bow-tie too! Utpal, this is a great article. I keep telling my friends what a big heart you have…

  2. In the first decade of October, we were happy to meet Pavaka as far as Saint-Petersburg, Oneness-Dream-Boat-Shore!..

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