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World Musical Mantra

stringerg1.jpgJeffrey converses with musical genius Dave Stringer who has graced the world with his remarkable talent in condensing traditional mantras and modern musical idioms into a transcendent participatory musical offering that is making the inaccessible accessible across the world.

The Los Angeles Times has declared the experience of chanting with Dave Stringer to be:

“a departure from ancient Kirtan. Stringer’s performance shaped the experience into a far more compelling musical encounter.”

stringerflyer1.jpgKirtan originated in India, and is currently experiencing a worldwide renaissance as a participatory live music experience. Stringer has been widely profiled as one of the most innovative artists of the New American Kirtan Movement in publications as diverse as Time, Billboard, Yoga Journal and In Style.

Stringer’s sound marries the transcendent mysticism of traditional Indian instruments with the exuberant, groove-oriented sensibility of American Gospel, and he is regarded as one of the most gifted singers in the genre. Stringer, who is also an accomplished composer and multi-instrumentalist, has a special ability to bring people together and inspire them to sing. His work intends to create a modern and participatory theatrical experience out of the ancient traditions of Kirtan and Yoga, open to a multiplicity of interpretations, and comprehensible to all.

Initially trained as a visual artist, filmmaker and jazz musician, Stringer had his formative experiences with chanting when film editing work brought him to the Siddha Yoga Ashram in Ganeshpuri, India in 1990. A subsequent period of residence at the ashram laid the foundation for his continuing study of the ideas, practices and music of yoga.

Since 2000, Stringer and a diverse ensemble of accompanying musicians have toured North America and Europe tirelessly, developing new venues for music, and expanding the audience for Kirtan. He has introduced chanting for the first time to many seemingly unlikely cities, and through his consistent touring, has been instrumental in the development of a number of thriving local Kirtan communities. He has also served as a volunteer teaching meditation and chanting to inmates at a number of correctional facilities in the United States.

An articulate and engaging public speaker, he probes the dilemmas of the spirit with a wry and unorthodox sense of humor. Stringer frequently works in tandem with internationally celebrated yoga teachers, creating music for workshops led by John Friend, Shiva Rea, and Gurmukh, among others. Of particular note has been his friendship and collaboration with yoga teacher Saul David Raye, with whom he has created a number of recordings.

Based in Los Angeles, Stringer has produced varied recordings with other celebrated World musicians including Azam Ali, Vas, Axiom of Choice, Rasa, Suzanne Teng, Shaman’s Dream and the Open Door Orchestra. Chant artists Donna Delory, Suzanne Sterling, and Girish went on to launch their own careers in the genre after spending time in Stringer’s performing and recording ensembles. His voice also appears on numerous soundtracks, including the blockbuster film Matrix Revolutions and the video game Myst. The CDs he has produced under his own name, “Brink”, “Japa”, “Mala” and “Divas & Devas”, are heard in yoga studios throughout the world.

Mantras are intended as a tool with which the spirit can release itself from the prison of attachments that the mind creates. It’s not unfair to say that the chanting of mantras is intended to be a completely mindless activity, since the intention of chanting is to create an ecstatic state of awareness that is beyond mind. Yoga doesn’t ask us to believe, it asks us to practice, examining our experience until we can witness the truth in the book of our own heart. No one else can read it for us, or tell us what it means. Ultimately, whether mantras are ancient wisdom or psychological metaphor or complete nonsense depends on the intention and experience of the participant.

In my conversation with Dave I discovered a deeply inspired artist whose life path naturally inspired him into his visionary musical offerings that are heard with the heart and the ears and need to be experienced to be fully appreciated.

Dave is presenting a special evening event at the upcoming International Conference on Science and Consciousness called:“ Arc of Ascent: An Evening of Kirtan”

Playing at the end of the Podcast are Dave’s musical pieces: Devakinandana Gopala from Japa, and Gunghata from Diva’s and Deva’s.

The Omni Art Salon theme music, When Angels Smile, is provided courtesy of Back To Earth

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