Culture Shock: Q&A with Brooklyn Raga Massive

Join Friends of the High Line on April 22 for Culture Shock, the High Line's 2017 programming season kick-off. Culture Shock will bring the park to life with music, comedy, stories, and family activities from 1-6 PM. All events are free with RSVP and open to the public.

Leading up to the event, we'll be sitting down with performers contributing to the Culture Shock line-up. As we count down to April 22, be sure to check back here for more exclusive Q&As.

Brooklyn Raga Massive is a platform for both listeners and practitioners of Raga music. Managed by artists, Brooklyn Raga Massive is dedicated to presenting and representing Indian Classical Music in all its diversity.

For those unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe it?
BRM: Both projects presented by Brooklyn Raga Massive bridge musical cultures. In the Arun Ramamurthy Trio, the Carnatic (South Indian Classical) canon is remixed in a seamless integration of styles as the group expands on traditional and original compositions in explosive, improvisational flights of fancy. They are joined by the jubilant vibes of Afrika Meets India, an innovative convergence of classic Indian raga melody, traditional Zimbabwean mbira song, and a grooving blend of Indian and African rhythm. All together they create a true "world music" sound that represents traditions from all over the world.

Members of Brooklyn Raga Massive.

What kind of stories do you feel your work tells?
BRM: The Brooklyn Raga Massive is like a tapestry of stories; each musician on their own has pursued a certain branch, lineage, or body of repertoire that exists in Indian classical music, as well as in other world music traditions. As a collective, Brooklyn Raga Massive tells the story of what can happen when artists join forces and draw from the collective energy to bring innovative projects to a contemporary landscape. While paying reverence to tradition, as shown by the life-long practice of the individuals that make up Brooklyn Raga Massive, the collective also demystifies the core tradition of Indian music through initiatives such as the hallmark BRM weekly jam session, in which musicians from all over the city gather to experiment with new arrangements, new configurations, new ideas. At its heart, Brooklyn Raga Massive tells the story of musical artists who are steeped in tradition, who are dedicated to the preservation of Indian music, and who are also leading the way for the spirit of experimentation.

How does your work speak to the New York community?
BRM: Brooklyn Raga Massive, as an artist collective, thrives on the creative collaborations that NY communities offer. The spirit of cross-cultural dialogue and progressive thinking is embedded in the history of this city, and BRM genuinely reflects those qualities that make New York City such a unique and vibrant place for the Arts. This work speaks to the inclusive and unifying nature of cross-culture, musical creativity by showing 2 sets; the West African Mbira alongside the Bansuri Flute in Afrika Meets India, as well the South Indian Classical meeting Modern Jazz in hybrid with Violin, Bass and Drums in the Arun Ramamurthy Trio.


SUPPORT

Culture Shock is generously supported by The India Center Foundation and by Goldman Sachs Gives, at the request of R. Martin Chavez.

Public programs on the High Line are supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Council, under the leadership of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

High Line Families is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.

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