In December 2016 Saagara – an ensemble made up of Wacław Zimpel, Girdhar Udupa, Bharghava Halambi and K Raja recorded a new album in Bangalore and played a series of concerts across India. According to critics, this extraordinary Indo-Polish music project has a chance for an international success.
Saagara’s music is traditional and organic – Western sounds are woven into the musical tradition of India in the way that they become inseparable. That is because for Wacław Zimpel this project is not a result of a shallow fascination, but of thorough studies of Indian cultural and musical tradition. Studying, however, would be nothing without actually practicing music – and this practice has been a part of Wacław Zimpel’s musical experience for years. Adjectives such as 'traditional' and 'ethnic' become greatest compliments when used to describe Saagara’s music.
The members of the ensemble: Giridhar Udupa, Bharghava Halambi, Mysore N. Karthik and K Raja are among the most eminent Indian musicians of the younger generation. Based in Bangalore, they perform in world’s major concert halls, such as the Carnegie Hall or Sydney Opera House.
Bharghava Halambi is a prominent musician from India, specializing in playing the khanjira (frame drum of the tambourine family) and the mridangam (two-sided drum, one of the oldest Indian instruments). He learned his artistry from great masters of Indian music. He is a member of the famous percussion band Layatharanga. He has performed in many prestigious concert halls, conducted workshops in India, the USA and France.
Giridhar Udupa, a master of the ghatam (clay percussion instrument resembling an ordinary pot), was born in a family with a long musical tradition. He started playing the instrument at the age of four, guided by his father. As a twelve-year-old boy he already made his first public appearances. Currently he performs alongside the greatest virtuosos and is often awarded prestigious awards. He has performed in the USA, Spain, Canada, France, Switzerland, Germany, Oman and Kuwait. Giridhar Udupa is a member of the ensemble of Indian famous vocalist Bombay Jayashri, nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song from the film Life of Pi. He is also one of the founders of the Layatharanga band.
Mysore N. Karthik is a rising star of Carnatic music and one of the most promising young musicians. He started studying to play the instrument at the age of eight with his father Mysore Nagaraj – the living legend of Indian music and the greatest violinist of contemporary India. Mysore N. Karthik has his own special way of combining the Hindu traditions with the concepts of western improvised music. He performs across India, quickly gaining recognition of the audience.
K Raja is a young master of the thavil (double-membrane percussion instrument, usually used during festivals and rituals in Hindu temples; it is played on with the stick and special thimbles). K Raja comes from a family where the tradition of playing the thavil has been cultivated for four generations. He began his musical education at a very young age, gaining notice from many masters of Indian music. He is one of the few thavil virtuosos who is versatile in various music styles, from jazz to fusion.
Wacław Zimpel is a classically trained clarinetist and composer. He is currently one of the most recognizable Polish artists in the world scene of improvised music. He draws inspiration primarily from sacred and ritual music of different cultures. He co-creates Ken Vandermark’s orchestra Resonance. He also works with Hamid Drake, Michael Zerang, Mikołaj Trzaska, Klaus Kugel, Bobby Few, Perry Robinson.
Saagara’s previous album was released in November 2015, receiving excellent reviews. After the concert tour, which took place last year in Poland and Ukraine, the ensemble, enjoying the critical acclaim, set off on another tour, which this time took them to India. The aim of the project was to strengthen the position of the band in the home country of some of its musicians.
Saagara played on 25th November at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parisath (Bangalore) at a concert accompanying the opening of the exhibition Absurd–Nonsense–Oxymoron co-organized by Culture.pl. The musicians also performed in the main hall of the prestigious National Centre for the Performing Arts in India’s largest metropolis – Mumbai. The concert was held on 26th November 2016.
Schedule of Concerts:
- 25th November 2016 - Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, Bengaluru, 6:00 pm
- 26th November 2016 - The NCPA presents: Converging Streams – The Best of World Music, Tata Theatre, Mumbaj, 7:00 pm
- 3rd December 2016 - Karunashraya - Bangalore Hospice Trust, Bengaluru, 11:00 am
- 4th December 2016 - Workshop with Wacław Zimpel, JSS Sangeetha Sabha, Jagamohan Palace, Mysore, 11:00 am
- 10th December 2016 - Dhyana Mandira, Sharada Vidyalaya, Mangalore, 6:00 pm
- 18th December 2016 - Kote Anjaneyaswamy Temple, Palace North Gate, Mysore, 6:00 pm
- 19th December 2016 - Wacław Zimpel joins Mysore Manjunath Project, Mysore University, Mysore, 6:00 pm