Agam in Tamil refers to the interior landscape. The MSO commission enables the exploration of interiority from a range of viewpoints bringing the mythological, ancient and the contemporary together. All the music has been created in collaboration with the very talented composer Alex Turley.
New Homes is a stunning Veena Concerto originally composed by Hari Sivanesan for an MSO-Sangam exchange in February 2022. The Veena is an ancient 7 stringed lute and this is the first time that a Concerto with a contemporary theme has been written for the instrument.
The theme inside the musical composition explores Sivanesan’s homeland of Sri Lanka, via oral interviews with individuals set to poetry, that explores the civil war, its aftermath and the creation of refugees and migrants who are unable or unwilling to return home.
The work also explores what it means to create new homes in South East Victoria, the newness, the learning, the struggles and hope; juxtaposing that against reminiscing the fragmented memories, the smells, tastes, the comforts and the fears of a home long gone and creating new homes.
Becoming brings an incredible visual and soundscape of contemporary dance, music and theatre from the perspective of a migrant girl child growing up in the turbulent suburbs of Melbourne trying to find a way to belong while being pulled between two cultures.
Her grandmother (paati) arrives in Melbourne and reminds her to look inward to find strength and to hold on to their ancestress, a female poet from the 8th century named Andal. Andal’s songs and poetry have been handed down from mother to daughter, grandmother to granddaughter for generations across the millennia. She is one of the only female “saints” of the ancient Vaishnavite traditions whose poetry remains with us today.
Becoming brings together ancient poetry written by Andal, with contemporary poetry and dance by Priya Srinivasan with powerful movement from classical and contemporary Indian dance traditions. It is set to beautiful music with haunting ragas by the renowned Carnatic vocalist and composer Uthra Vijay, with rhythmic structures created by percussionist/ mridangam maestro Sridhar Chari. The work explores new ways of understanding music from a non-western context and ways of moving through fragmentation to becoming whole.
The Way Forward takes the powerful mythological character of Hanuman, known to be the figure of resistance, strength, innovation and love, as a force to reimagine our contemporary pluralistic society. He brings different fractured tribes of humans and creatures together and they build bridges.
Through episodes where he finds his inner strength, his flight across oceans, his tail being set on fire, and his commitment to bringing tribes together, we are shown his interventions and his capacity to outcreate the realities he faces. He offers an example for us to look at the past as inspiration to find the way forward.
Taking 16th century lyrics, Hari Sivanesan’s composition traverses multiple genres; evocative bhajan, bhangra, R&B and classical genres, framed by a percussive mélange, to create a rich soundscape. Priya Srinivasan reimagines the story through the choreographed movements of Kalaripayattu, Sri Lankan Kandian dance, and contemporary urban and classical Indian dance in a visually stunning experimental performance.