Dance Studio 3 at Lewis Arts complex
Opus 21: Alex Chein, Hana Mundiya, Leland Ko
Trumpet performance: Henry Whitaker
Shruthi Rajasekar: Devotee
A Carnatic and Choral Exploration of Spiritual Unity
Shruthi Rajasekar ’18, voice; Paige Kunkle ’18, voice; Maddy Kushan ’20, voice; Meredith Hooper ’20, voice; Ro van Wingerden ’20, voice
Laß uns auf dich sehen,
Laß das Licht
Deines Worts uns heller scheinen
Und dich jederzeit treu meinen.
Let us look upon You,
Let the light
of Your word shine brightly upon us
and continually bring You to mind.
(Author of Text: Anonymous, taken from the tenor aria of J.S. Bach’s Cantata BVW 6. Translation by Pamela Dellal)
man manā bhava mad-bhakto
mad yājī māḿ namaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi yuktvaivam
mām evaiṣyasi satyaḿ te
pratijāne priyo ‘si me
Always think of Me, become My devotee
Worship Me and offer your homage unto Me
Surely you will come to Me
Being completely absorbed in Me
Surely you will come to Me; to you
I promise this because you are My very dear friend
(Lines 1-4 taken from the Bhagvad Gita 9.34 and lines 5-6 taken from Bhagvad Gita 18.65; Krishna is addressing Arjuna. Translation anonymous)
Description (from Shruthi Rajasekar):
Last summer, I heard Rheinberger’s “Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden”. The setting itself is masterful, but I was particularly struck by the simple vulnerability of these words (taken from the German Bible’s Gospel of Luke). They reminded me of the sentiment behind several texts in my faith, Hinduism. As a chorister, I am not unfamiliar with Christian texts; however, this particular excerpt resonated with me in a new way. I soon came across Johann Sebastian Bach’s setting of the same text, and within that cantata, I found the beautiful words of the tenor aria. I wondered what would happen if “uns” (us) were sung by a group of people.
Meanwhile, I began to contemplate how such a Christian text could interact with a passage from Hinduism. Last semester, I had the chance to attend Gita study (conducted by Hindu chaplain Vineet Chander), and there, I first heard Bhagvad Gita 9.34’s message of absolute devotion. But it was the connection between 9.34 and 18.65 that really caught my attention; 18.65 begins with the same lines but acknowledges the beautiful friendship between the divine Krishna and his mortal devotee Arjuna.
It seemed natural to set the two in spiritual and musical dialogue with one another. I had to balance the different timbres, ranges, and musical features of Carnatic and Western classical music, but the process of writing this piece made me a better ‘devotee’… a greater believer in music’s power to bring us together.
Shruthi Rajasekar ’18 is a Minnesotan vocalist and composer who studies Carnatic (South Indian classical) music and Western classical voice. Her teachers include Smt. Nirmala Rajasekar, Thanjavur K. Murugaboopathi, Dr. Rochelle Ellis, Jerry Elsbernd and Patricia Rozario, OBE. Recently, Shruthi has been mentored in composition by J. David Moore, Abbie Betinis, Dr. Alison Kay and music graduate student Anna Pidgorna. At Princeton, she is majoring in Music with certificates in Vocal Performance & Cognitive Science. Shruthi would like to thank the singers for their musicianship and camaraderie.
Paige Kunkle ‘18 is a senior in the physics department from Princeton, NJ. When she’s not singing in one of Princeton’s choirs, she loves working with Shruthbae to come up with new and exciting publicity stunts (!!) for the Glee Club, for which she is currently co-publicity chair. Paige has also served as that choir’s president.
Maddy Kushan ’20 is a soprano from McLean, VA. Before coming to Princeton she was a chorister at the National Cathedral. She loves singing with the Glee Club, Chamber Choir, Chapel Choir and Contrapunctus.
Rosamond van Wingerden ’20 is a sophomore from Amstelveen, the Netherlands, planning to study comp lit and music. On campus, she sings in the Glee Club, Chamber Choir, Contrapunctus XIV, and the Tigressions. She’s also interested in ancient Greek music and opera composition. Besides singing, she likes hiking and cycling.
Meredith Hooper ’20 is hoping to concentrate in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering with a certificate in Musical Performance. She has been singing for almost as long as she can remember, starting with the choirs of the Virginia Consort before joining the Princeton Glee Club.
Sunday, October 8 4:00 pm — 5:00 pm
Dance Studio 3 (Tower Dance Studio)