Music that is an absolute high point of human creativity
Mickey Lemle's film The Last Dalai Lama?' includes a sequence of Philip Glass playing and talking about his organ piece 'Mad Rush'. This was written in 1979 for the Dalai Lama's first public address in North America*. His Holiness gave the address in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City, which is where Philip Glass was filmed for the documentary. In 1965 Philip Glass worked with Ravi Shankar on the score for the film Chappaqua, and in 1989 the two great musicians collaborated again on their Passages project.
Both Philip Glass and Ravi Shanar have auspicious connections with the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. In August 1976 Pandit Shankar curated a dusk 'till dawn concert at St. John the Divine, which culminated in an extended set by the sitar maestro as dawn broke. This sublime performance was recorded and re-released on the Shankar Estate's East Meets West Music label in 2014. For me this is an album 'to die for', an opinion shared by fellow blogger Douglas Heselgrave on 'Restless and real - words and sounds from a shrinking world'. So I hand over to Douglas for the final words:
"I'm not suggesting that Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Jah or Allah tapped on his shoulder or whispered divine melodies into Shankar’s ears as he played the incredible music from dusk to dawn on August 6, 1976 that has been captured on 'A Night At St. John The Divine' but at the very least it features the expression of a man, a spirit, who was tuned in and open to hearing the delicate unfolding of the creative potential held in each moment. He was a musician who could sense tapestries of sound as they hovered, to then catch and stitch them together in a light weave for everyone to hear. I wouldn’t go as far as to suggest that the music on ‘A Night At St. John the Divine’ offers sufficient proof of the divinity of the universe, but it’s impossible not to marvel at the beauty and intricacy of the melodies and wonder how a single human could have the sensitivity to create them. The three ragas Shankar plays represent an absolute high point of human creativity. I am sure I will listen to this recording regularly for the rest of my life."
* 'Mad Rush' is included in The Last Dalai Lama? soundtrack album on Philip Glass' Orange mountain Music label. New Overgrown Path posts are available via RSS/email using the link at the top of the pager. Any copyrighted material is included for critical analysis, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).