Spirit of Unity Concert: Fremont, CA
On June 29 2019, the Fremont Sai Center hosted the second concert of the Spirit of Unity series at the First United Methodist Church in Fremont, CA. The Spirit of Unity concert was conceived by Sri Sathya Sai Baba in 1995 at a time of social unrest and cultural tensions in India. Given the current climate of divisiveness in the U.S, Sai Center members thought that hosting a similar concert would draw people from different cultures together through music. Music has the transcendent power to connect diverse people by evoking universal emotions that cut across cultures. From this came forth the idea of a jazz-Indian classical fusion concert focused on the theme of unity.
A critical element to the success of the concert was finding accomplished diverse musicians in the Bay Area who were able and eager to intertwine elements of Indian classical music with contemporary jazz and pop/rock influences. With Divine Grace, the musicians were found! On percussion was Arvind Bhamidipati, a Bay Area native. On the saxophone was Ori Jacobson from Israel. Playing electric guitar was Will Rogers, a songwriter and a musician. And playing the acoustic guitar was Priyant Sundas, from Darjeeling, India.
Coordinating such an event took a lot of careful planning and skilled execution. Despite conflicting opinions, the team strove to work together in a unified manner, befitting the theme of the concert. At the end, it was gratifying to see a very diverse audience turn up and enjoy the concert. In fact, on the day of the show, several members of the public helped with the set up, the decor, sound and lighting, and attended to the check-in and ushering. It was uplifting to see friends and strangers work together to make this event memorable for all involved!
The concert was well received by the audience. They were very engaged in the Q&A session with the artists, clearly curious to learn more about the artists themselves, about the musical influences that shaped them, the process of composing music and the challenges of unifying elements of Indian classical and jazz music. The team received many appreciative comments from the audience. In turn, the volunteers expressed gratitude for the opportunity to work as a team on various aspects of the concert. For them, that teamwork reflected the very spirit of unity the concert tried to convey.