South Bank’s Griffith University and Park Lands played host to the Encounters: India festival from the 13th to the 19th of May this year. A friend of mine invited me to this concert in the festival on the 16th. I was aware of the festival but hadn’t checked out the program yet, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But from the moment I got there, I could tell it was going to be interesting.

Held in the Courier Mail Piazza in the South Bank Parklands, the performance was a collaboration of the Australian Art Orchestra with Indian music Guru Kaaraikkudi Mani and the Sruthi Laya Ensemble. These musicians have been playing together since 1996, working to blend Southern Indian and Western music. The results are something that you should look up, as I’m not sure my vocabulary is capable of describing it.

Musical Director Adrian Sherriff told the audience how several of the songs played were based in time signatures of 5, 7 and 9. The group members’ interactions were great to watch. Adam King on the drum kit and Suresh Vaidyanathan on the ghatam (a circular pot used in percussion) were clearly locked in some sort of silent communication as the two percussion styles blended seamlessly.

The types of instruments in this culturally combined orchestra included a Ghatan (the circular pot), mridangam (a indian drum), a flute, trombone, reeds, drums, guitar and trumpet. The combination of all these instruments playing together was unique and inspiring.

If you want to hear these sounds for yourself, check out the Australian Art Orchestra’s website http://aao.com.au/projects/program/two-oceans-into-the-fire/. You can buy their album the Chennai Sessions (Into the Fire) from there.

Chelsea