This recital of Sufi songs is presented by the Bay Dervish Band & Friends (see below for a complete list of musicians). It includes ecstatic and devotional offerings from the 800-year-old South Asian qawwali tradition, with introductions, some translations, and one-and-a-half qawwalis in English!
Doors open at 6:30 p.m., music starts at 7:00 p.m., halfway through the program there will be a 30-minute tea break.
Part One: Bullha Ki Jaana ... ~ Man Kun-to Maula ~ Here We Come Turning ~ Chhaap Tilak ~ Masth Qalandar
Intermission & Tea
Part Two: Maula Ali Maula ~ Allah-Hu/Only You ~ Kanhaiyya, Yaad Bhi Hayy... ~ Aaj Rang Hayy e Maa
Vocals: Kiran Rana, Jeanne Rana, Divya Purohit Vyas, Ashutosh Vyas, Harsheen Kaur, Robin Gupta
Instruments: Geoffrey Ullerich, keyboards and saxophone; Nina Sharif, daf; Gary Hagerty, oud
Qawwali, the ecstatic music of the Indo-Pakistani sufi tradition, is mystical and devotional poetry set to music and sung by a group following a call-and-response format. Some qawwalis speak praise of Prophets and saints, others sing of beloved teachers, the heart's deep longing for Oneness, mystical experience, or existential confusion/amazement. Styles of qawwali range from fiery improvisation to trancelike flight to a quiet melodic and rhythmic surging. Accompaniment may come from harmoniums, drums, zithers, flutes and the hand-clapping of the chorus.
Kiran Rana has been involved with Sufism for over 40 years and is a senior teacher and guide in the Sufi Way. He has studied qawwali with Babu Meraj Ahmed Qawwal of New Delhi and raga with Sukhawat Ali Khan. Jeanne Rana is a poet and long-term member of the Sufi Way, and sings in the Threshold Choir of the First Unitarian Church of Oakland.
What can qawwali offer Western listeners and participants and students? ...
"Mostly, I can speak about what it gives me: A place to sing devotionally without needing to suppress my intensity; the opportunity to improvise and play with the melody and the rhythm; a sustained musical development and landscape from tranquil to desperate and everywhere in-between; a place to integrate my love of poetry and lyrics with musical expression; a place to find and make the spiritual associations that over time become a language describing the home of my soul. In all of these aspects I think qawwali can be a dynamic, contemporary form that does not depend on language or even cultural background, and that is why I feel that with practice, creativity, and grace we can all make qawwalis that will speak to the heart of every person, so we also see it's "light come shining, from the west unto the east." — Kiran Rana