Kirtan

Kirtan
  • Kirtan

Kirtan is an ancient Vedic practice of chanting sacred Sanskrit words and mantras in a group setting. This devotional chanting is typically done in a call-and-response fashion. Chanting creates rhythmic vibrations that resonate throughout the whole body, affecting mind and spirit as well. When a group chants together, a symphony of sound is created that frees up the mind, allowing one to be present, and more easily access blissful states of consciousness.

As part of his spiritual path, Ashok has been chanting and playing harmonium since 2011, studying with Indian classical musicians and Grammy nominee, Jai Uttal. He sings in the traditional Indian raga style and leads Hindu and multi-faith chants. Happiness Through Chanting is an article Ashok wrote for the Inner Tapestry magazine in 2011.

After losing his voice for a year and being told by medical experts in 2000 that he would never be able to speak again, Ashok has come a long way, diligently practicing his chanting daily. He regularly leads kirtan with his ensemble called Swan Kirtan, and hosts other kirtan artists from across the country through his spiritual center, Sadhana.

Swan Kirtan

In 2014, while meditating, Ashok was inspired to name his kirtan ensemble Swan Kirtan. The swan symbolizes grace, beauty, purity, partnership, spiritual devotion and transcendence. A truly elegant bird, the swan is associated with music, love and poetry. A swan is also the vehicle for Saraswati, the Hindu goddess symbolizing the arts. Without the “w,” Swan Kirtan becomes San Kirtan, which is the original word for Kirtan.

Swan Kirtan leads multi-faith chants with both western and eastern influences. The Swan Kirtan debut album, We Are All One, is released in the summer of 2017 .. Ashok recorded it in India with classically trained musicians. Copies or downloads are available through CD Baby or iTunes.

Bios of Swan Kirtan

Testimonials

“What a band. Beautiful Kirtan."

~ Jai Uttal

“You are the one person in the States that present genuine Indian kirtan.” - Gary Goldberg.

 

“Those slow, sweet melodies drew me into a state of meditative stillness. I watched a few other videos besides the Gayatri mantra. They are almost addictive and I can feel the strong sense of positiveness in the mind after listening to them.”

~ Shanthi

"Swan Kirtan is a gifted group of musicians, deeply passionate about what they do and capable of moving and profound musical performances. Their performance at Bates College was an engaging yet meditative experience that was evocative of the Divine. The textures in their music are vast, combining instruments from East and West and infusing devotional Kirtan chanting with influences from jazz, classical and world music. The music of Swan Kirtan and the contagious energy in their performances are most certainly informed by the depth of each musician's spiritual life. I highly recommend Swan Kirtan and plan to use their services again in the future."

~ Nicole Pelonzi, Multifaith Chaplaincy Program Coordinator, Bates College.

"You did a very beautiful set."

~ Gary Goldberg, Producer, Harvest Love Festival and Gary's Kirtan Radio Host

"Ashok's deeply grounded presence and extensive knowledge of chanting, meditation, and kirtan not only enhanced my yoga workshops at the Maine Yoga Festival, he literally opened up new channels for participants to deepen and expand their practices. Invaluable for all!"

~ Sara DiVello, best-selling author of Where in the OM Am I? (NIEA winner: Best Memoir)

“I loved it! You are all so talented.”

~ Dr. Elizabeth Monson, Harvard Divinity School

"What an uplifting experience we had last night! Thank-you, Ashok Nalamalapu and the talented musicians and all the participants in last night's Kirtan. My heart is full this morning." - Liz Jackson, Center for Balanced Living, Maine

"Ashok, thank you for serving as our emcee. Your love and devotion was felt by all. Your presence in the Kula was a great comfort to me personally. " ---- Dana Kaplan, LoveLight Festival

"Thank you for your beautiful 2-CD set which I am enjoying so much.  It is beautiful to chant to, and I love the India-style production. I can’t tell you what a difference your correct pronunciation makes to me.  It’s wonderful.  And the beautiful instrumentation is to be much admired.  The CD makes me feel like I am back in India. " - Wah

 

 

Interview by Gary Goldberg with Ashok Nalamalapu on WRPI:

https://youtu.be/igXZlbHLPC8

 

Events

Ashok often leads two or more Swan Kirtan events each month at yoga studios, temples, churches, and colleges, as well as yoga centers such as Kripalu, Ananda Ashram and the Integral Yoga Institute. He occasionally travels to lead kirtan at festivals, including Bhakti Fest in California and the Lovelight Festival in Maryland, and has also led kirtan in temples in India. See Events Here.

To find out more about hosting Swan Kirtan, Contact Ashok Here.

Swan Kirtan Musicians

A long list of talented musicians have participated in Swan Kirtan events over the years, with over 200 years of combined musical experience. The following are those who have been involved on a regular and/or recent basis.

Todd Glacy has a degree in music from the Berklee College of Music. He is a Sacred Sound Musician, multi-instrumentalist, singer, spiritual coach, workshop/event facilitator and Interfaith Chaplain who utilizes the transformative power of song and sound to bring people back to the "heart of stillness" and a remembering of the divine beings we really are. With Swan Kirtan, Todd plays bass guitar or djembe.

Namory Keita is an international teacher and performing artist. He has travelled to many countries, including Germany, Poland, France, Canada, and Portugal, to share his culture through drumming. Namory grew up in Guinea, West Africa, and has been drumming since the age of seven.

Rodney Mashia has been touching people's hearts and making them smile for decades with his soulful music. He has entertained many groups nationwide with his guitar, flute, beautiful voice, sensitive original lyrics, and vocal interpretations. Born and raised in rural Louisiana with Gospel roots, and educated in New England, Rodney's life experiences have spanned the black and white American political and musical cultures of the past five decades, all contributing to his unique style. As a flutist, he has accompanied the Hanumen, Carrie Grossman, Eddie Nataraj, Devadas and many other kirtan leaders. With Swan Kirtan, he sings and plays flute.

Randy Lindsey performs throughout the New England area with his six-string acoustic guitar. He holds a Master of Musical Arts degree and plays Jazz standards, 60s & 70s popular songs, instrumentals, originals, classical guitar pieces, and songs from musicals, operas, and foreign cultures. Along with tuning pianos, he teaches guitar, voice, and piano. Randy plays bass and acoustic guitar accompaniment for Swan Kirtan.

Aban Zirikly is a musician, music teacher and conductor. Aban began studying violin when he was ten years old in Damascus, Syria. He has been a professional music teacher, writer and performer since 1975. He taught formally in Damascus, Prague and the Czech Republic. Aban performed at numerous venues in Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. He is a well known musician in Syria and gave programs and talks on music for Syrian TV and radio. He also established and led the Syrian Chamber Orchestra. Aban is an exceptional violinist and shares his mesmerizing gift with Swan Kirtan audiences.

Rob Landry is an accomplished bassist who has played in a variety of musical acts for more than 30 years. He also plays with Bluezberry Jam band.

Kalidasa Joseph Getter plays the venu (South Indian bamboo flute), clarinet, hand drums, and more. A creative world musician, he draws on three decades of experience in Kirtan, experimental music, Jazz, world drumming traditions, Indonesian gamelan, Indian classical music, and music for theater and dance. He is a disciple of the late musician Sri T. Viswanathan. He will play flute and clarinet.

Ravi plays electric and bass guitars. Lalitha (Lisa) Desrosiers leads chorus and plays tambourine. Ravi and Lisa view it as their dharma, or sacred path, to bring the powerful practices of mantra and kirtan to others. Whether playing solo, as a duo, or accompanied by other talented musicians, their goal is to uplift and bring people to deeper states of bliss and meditation. Their kirtan is influenced by Ma Chetan Jyoti, Sadguru Sant Keshavadas, Namadeva Acharya, Devadas, Krishna Das and the divine shakti that flows through us all.

Alex Adrian is an established Boston jazz pianist, keyboardist, and composer who has now turned his devotion to writing and performing the ancient sacred Sanskrit mantras and chants of Kirtan, setting them to jazz, new age, folk, funk, latin, and R&B. Educated at Eastman School of Music and New England Conservatory of Music, Alex has been a longtime seeker of divinity and has found his connection to The Divine through this sacred call-and-response spirit music experience.

Jason Grundstrom-Whitney has played in numerous bands spanning diverse genre's. He currently plays in the recording band Tired Eyes( alternative rock), and JWhit and friends (rap). He has played with the Tom Hoffman trio(jazz), the 3 Great Jazz guitarists of Virginia Beach (jazz), David Klogus band( country), the Old Dominion Symphony Orchestra, various blues, jazz, rock, reggae bands,etc... He also plays Native American flute.

Rasa Devi Dasi of Boston is an exceptional hand cymbals/manjira and tambourine player and a devotee. She is also a kirtan singer. She has been playing music with Devadas of New York since 2011. She plays in Kirtan bands throughout the East Coast. 

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