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Classical Californians: Varun Soni

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University of Southern California

Our first Classical Californian of the new year is Varun Soni, who is the Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life at the University of Southern California. He’s assembled an “East Meets West” program that resonates with his life experiences as an Indian-American. We’ll hear music that Ravi Shankar wrote for solo sitar and symphony orchestra; a work by composer Reena Esmail that celebrates the various religious traditions of India; a performance from Beethoven’s Fifth symphony by members of the cross-cultural West-Eastern Divan Orchestra; and music from the opera that Philip Glass wrote about Mahatma Gandhi, Satyagraha.

The first selection is the second movement from Ravi Shankar’s Concerto No. 2 for Sitar and Orchestra (“Raga-Mala”) – he’s the soloist in this performance with Zubin Mehta conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Listen to his introduction!

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Ravi Shankar: "Raga-Mala" Concerto No. 2 for Sitar and Orchestra, Mvt. 2

Then, it’s on to music by Reena Esmail, “Buddhism” from her work This Love Between Us (Prayers for Unity).

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Reena Esmail: This Love Between Us (I. Buddhism)

A brush with basketball greatness led to the next selection – the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, as played by the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, led by Daniel Barenboim.

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Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 (West-Eastern Divan Orchestra)

And his final selection is the contemplative “Evening Song” from Philip Glass’s opera Satyagraha, about the life of Mahatma Gandhi, here sung by tenor Douglas Perry.

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Philip Glass: "Evening Song" from Satyagraha

Written by:
The Classical Team
The Classical Team
Published on 01.01.2024