Meher Band in Concert
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On Sunday, 4th January 2015, the MEHER BAND concert at the lovely outdoor public venue in Savedi area of Ahmednagar, India was very well-attended and enthusiastically received. Jai Meher Baba!
Bobbi Bernstein (Her Highness Nightingale Music Teacher) watching the webcast from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina USA wrote to us, “This is magnificent – Easterners and Westerners singing and playing together. This is a Band for the ages, a New Humanity band. What a great start!”
Carla De Sousa reported that her parents loved hearing the concert in Buenos Aires, Argentina through webcast – especially the Spanish song “Vamos a cantar con Baba!”
The Meher Band instrumentation was: harmonium – Deepak Thade; tabla and percussion – Madhukar Dadar and his twin sons Praveen and Prakash; Iranian daf drum – Zahra Ghazi; keyboard – Debbie Nordeen; guitar – Simon Reece, Ted Judson and Janice Rieman; Persian setar, Simon; cello – Janice; charango (Argentinian mandolin) – Carla DeSousa, and spoken word – Eric Solibakke. Songs were sung in Hindi, Marathi, Farsi, Spanish and English. Everyone sang – audience included!
Ashok Ambulkar led the opening bhajan with a favorite, Bhau Kalchuri’s “Japu Tumhara Nam,” Janice led with guitar and cello in Bhau’s ghazal-song “Meherana-Meher Come,” Debbie Nordeen led with Ward Parks’ “Who Wears the Dawn Form,” Simon and Carla led all in their beautiful setting in English and Spanish of Meher Baba’s “Beloved God” prayer and their own lively “Arti del Arte” which intersperses Baba’s messages about the arts, spoken feelingly by Carla over charango tremolo, with cumulative sung verses, “bailar con Baba…cantar…pintar…filmar…zapar…Meher Baba Avatar.” Zapar = to jam!
Zahra Ghazi led the Farsi song on Rumi’s words, “Saarebana oshtoran bin” accompanying herself on daf to the background of Simon’s setar. Deepak Thade led with his setting of Bhau’s touching “Do Din Kahe,” Eric Solibakke read selected words of Meher Baba that had been read by Darwin Shaw at the 1962 East-West Gathering; Ted Judson led two classics, Bob Holt’s “Ocean of Love” and Jamie Newell’s “Ustad Dhanyavad,” which inspired grateful and lively dancing in the audience!
Madhukar Dadar (Tablaji) followed with his original bhajan, “Tu hai Khuda.” The closer was the rousing bhajan “Ala Paha Deva Ala,” which our emcee told us was first sung a cappella by Madhusudhan before Baba and Gadge Maharaj at the famous gathering at Pandharapur.
The program concluded with the beautiful music and footage of Meher Baba in Mischa Rutenberg’s “Jai Ho” music video (YouTube); Prashant Ahir and the Ahmednagar Centre bhajan mandali led all in the Master’s Prayer, Repentance Prayer and Beloved God Prayer in Marathi, and the Hindi arti, “Adi Sachetana.”
Prashant Ahir had traveled especially from Mumbai or Pune to provide marvelous anchoring. As emcee, he spoke mostly in Marathi for the majority audience, giving introductory comments for newcomers, messages of Baba and information about the performers, songs and their provenance and meanings, and song composers such as Maulana Rumi, Madhusudhan, Bhau Kalchuri and Bob Holt. This video includes only the band’s music, but another video will be posted that includes all of Prashant’s song introductions.
(It was touching to see Prashant’s father Pratap Ahir, one of the original “Poona bhajan mandali” who had contact with Baba from boyhood, in the audience. Pratap is also musically at Dhuni side each month, and among the late-night divinely intoxicated bhajan singers at Amartithi.)
At the concert, there were an estimated 350 or more people in attendance, including a busload of pilgrims and residents from Meherabad, Meherazad and Meher Nazar and Chairman Shridhar Kelkar, Trustees Jal Dastoor, Mehernath Kalchuri and Ramesh Jangale. Many were newcomers from Ahmednagar who came because of the wide publicity arranged by our Zahra and Pavan Naik in local newspapers and TV. The coverage mentioned Meher Baba, showed His photo and gave dates and place of Amartithi.
One member of the Trust Office staff who lives in the area said many of his neighbors attended, and were asking him, “Who is this – Meher Baba?” We were told Ted and the Meher Band were seen the next day on the local Marathi TV news channel. Good morning and wake up, Ahmednagar!
By Baba’s Grace, our stalwart chat team of Anna, Judy, Robin, and Patrick were able to successfully webcast the concert to the Worldwide Baba Family Meeting. As usual the internet was imperfect but appreciation was high! Joanna (Mother P4) gave a play-by-play through the text chat – with the unexpected bonus of dear Pavan Naik’s spontaneous translations to the typist of some of the Hindi and Marathi songs as they happened.
The Year was New, the moon was full, the Beloved was with us and we were with Him! Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai!