Musician and environmental activist Warren Senders from USA arrives in Hyderabad next week for a concert at Our Sacred Space. Excerpts from an interview.
How did you get inspired to take up Hindustani music?
I was a teenager who was a music lover and I came upon some recordings of Hindustani music by chance, which fascinated me completely.
Can you tell us about your gurus?
I began learning Hindustani music in the US with Kalpana Mazumder, a singer of the Indore gharana. I further trained under Shreeram G. Devasthali, a senior disciple of Pt Gajananrao Joshi of the Gwalior gharana. Devasthali was a superb vocalist and even more importantly a master teacher who was able to diagnose my problem areas and address them in his teaching. Working with him was the highest experience of musical education in my life.
As a global citizen, where do you see Indian music on the world map?
Indian musical ideas are found everywhere in the world — and their core concepts are now increasingly part of the musical vocabulary in other cultures as well. The variety of forms and ideas found in the music of the subcontinent is extraordinary.
Tell us about your interest in issues of the environment?
I have become very concerned about the issue of global warming and climate change. All the songs, the stories, the melodies and the poems are endangered. From the year 2009, I am producing semi-annual benefit concerts for 350.org (a climate-change awareness group with chapters in India), writing letters, persuading other musicians and performers to get involved in raising public consciousness of the climate crisis.
For the last six months I have been maintaining a daily hour-long vigil at a traffic intersection with a sign that says ‘Climate change is real’. I feel deeply that music is one of the ways that we can maintain links with our past. To be a musician is to take the beauty created by previous generations and make a commitment to pass it along to generations to come. If I sing a song that is three hundred years old, it puts me in communication with those who lived at that time, and it also means that I imagine a future to which my own songs and music may travel.
— The writer is a musician, creator of ‘Jaywant Guitar’ and a freelance photographer...