Berklee Indian Ensemble releases debut album ‘Shuruaat’

Global music collective Berklee Indian Ensemble has released its debut album ‘Shuruaat’, marking their first decade together.

Berklee Indian Ensemble is known for a cross pollination of genres, cultures and multidisciplinary art forms. This will be the first time that the Ensemble’s music will be available via streaming services worldwide.

The 10-track stand-out compilation features a total of 98 musicians from 39 countries, and also highlights the pinnacle of Indian artistry, including Grammy-winning tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, virtuosic composer-singer Shankar Mahadevan, Oscar and Grammy winning Kannada vocalist Vijay Prakash and one of Bollywood’s finest playback singers, Shreya Ghoshal.

Every track is laced with Ensemble’s diverse musical influences including jazz, progressive rock, Indian classical, Sufi and Middle Eastern flavours.

Berklee Indian Ensemble Founder/Director Annette Philip commented on the occasion, “‘Shuruaat’ (meaning new beginning in Hindi) showcases our journey thus far and the one we’re about to embark on. Our audience has been begging for this music to be available on streaming platforms for a decade.”

Continuing further, she spoke about how the album showcases the ensemble’s diversity, saying, “It is fitting that our debut album gives a glimpse into the global family of musicians who have been part of the Ensemble since 2011, alongside historic collaborations with many of our musical heroes.

“The 10 tracks on ‘Shuruaat’ showcase the depth and breadth of our 10-year journey with original music, tributes to ‘Shakti’ and ‘Remember Shakti’, as well as signature Berklee Indian Ensemble reinterpretations of Indian film music.”

In addition to the much-admired Indian musicians, alumni and students from Berklee College of Music, ‘Shuruaat’ boasts collaborations with contemporary-classical duo, Shadow and Light, and features two ‘Shakti’ tributes, as well as four original compositions.

Going down the memory lane, Shreya Ghoshal, who has worked on the track ‘Sundari Pennae’ for the album, said in a statement, “I have so many memories of my Berklee residency! Just visiting Berklee is a life-changing experience for any musician, for anybody who loves music.

“We performed so many songs together, but we had such a blast with ‘Sundari Pennae’ that we decided to record and share it with everyone who missed the live concert. The composer, D. Imman, loved the new arrangement too.”

“I remember it was the only song of the concert in 5/8 (time signature). Those fives gave me nightmares, but the song was so beautifully rearranged. I felt so honoured and happy that these wonderful Berklee Indian Ensemble musicians were playing and acknowledging this song of mine.

“And the nuances you brought were never about showing the skills you have; rather it was always about the soul and love you all put in these songs. I hope I am back in Boston someday soon, to do many such sessions, and spend more time with you. I miss you all,” she added.

‘Shuruaat’ serves as a new beginning for the Berklee Indian Ensemble, which has been churning out soulful original music, and dexterous jazz-informed renditions of India’s biggest mainstream hits.

The album includes the following tracks:

1. ‘Unnai Kaanadhu Naan’

2. ‘Sundari Pennae’

3. ‘Lady La’

4. ‘Arz-e-Niyaz’

5. ‘Pinha’

6. ‘Peace Band’

7. ‘Dua’

8. ‘Aakash’

9. ‘Jaago Piya’

10. ‘Sati’

Music composer Shankar Mahadevan also spoke about his collaboration with the ensemble for the album, saying “I’m so happy that a collaboration I did with the Berklee Indian Ensemble is releasing as part of their debut album. The song ‘Peace Band’ was composed by the legendary John McLaughlin, and I got a chance to sing this particular piece with a set of amazing musicians from Berklee.

“I thank Annette Philip, Rohith Jayaraman, and the entire team for giving me this opportunity. God bless them, and all the very best for their beautiful music releasing soon!”

‘Shuruaat’ is available to stream across audio streaming platforms.

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