Berklee Indian Ensemble to Perform at Deepak Chopra Symposium

Kimberly Ashton
August 30, 2016
Dr. Deepak Chopra
Courtesy of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing

Next week musicians from the Berklee Indian Ensemble head out to California to perform at a symposium led by Deepak Chopra, the famed doctor and wellness guru, as a result of a connection between Chopra and Berklee that started last year and has continued to grow.

The collaboration first took root in December 2015, when Chopra was on campus to talk about his latest book, Super Genes, at the Berklee Performance Center. During the visit, Clint Valladares, managing director of the Berklee India Exchange (BIX), introduced Chopra to the group and its ensemble. “He was impressed by them and insisted we find a way to make [a collaboration] work,” said Jenn Perell of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing.  

“What I’m going to do now, as a result of my wonderful association here with these amazing people from Berklee and also the Berklee India Exchange, is to look at Indian music because Indian music is particularly interesting because the ragas of Indian classical music—but even the melodies of Indian music—they take into account what they call cosmic rhythms,” Chopra said in December. “But these cosmic rhythms actually are programmed in our biology as biological rhythms.”

Deepak Chopra talks in December 2015 about a potential collaboration with Berklee.

That opportunity came a month later, when Chopra asked the ensemble to join him on September 9 in Beverly Hills, California, at his annual Sages and Scientists Symposium, where "more than 40 of the world’s preeminent thinkers, philosophers, doctors, scientists, musicians, and artists journey into life’s deepest mysteries and seek answers to its biggest questions," according to his website. Other musical guests include Michael Franti and Satya Hinduja ‘04. David Mash, Berklee's senior vice president for innovation strategy and technology, is also scheduled to speak at the event. 

The Berklee Indian Ensemble will accompany Chopra for a guided meditation that “will flow into a couple of introspective pieces, slowly leading to a more celebratory feel,” said Annette Philip, who leads the ensemble and is the artistic director for BIX. The show will last about 45 minutes and will feature original student compositions as well as rearrangements of some traditional and contemporary Indian pieces, she said.

Twelve members of the ensemble, including Philip, will perform at Chopra’s event after flying straight from Bangalore, India, where they and 18 other ensemble members will have performed in the massive Bengaluru Ganesh Utsava music festival on September 6.

Rohith Jayaraman ‘15, BIX’s assistant manager, will be one of the performers making that trip to California. “We’re so happy that [Chopra] recognizes BIX’s and the Indian Ensemble’s efforts to promote social, emotional, and mental wellbeing, and wants to collaborate with us on this front,” Jayaraman said.