SHAKTI with John Bergamo
In 1977, my musical mentor, John Bergamo
was asked to perform with SHAKTI in Canada, as there were visa issues
with one of the traveling Indian musicians,
specifically T.S. Murugesh,
who had replaced Vikku for the final tour
Vikku Vinayakram (unable to tour)
John asked me if I knew the music and shook his head
in remembering the difficulty of it.
He recorded the 3 albums onto a 2 track machine
(i.e., some of you will have to GOOGLE that)
so that he could hear and learn the composition and the konnakol
I remember that he told SHAKTI that if he could have
3 rehearsals that he would do the performance after having
studying the recordings
they agreed, and flew him out,
but his only rehearsal was at the soundcheck.
Solo orders were discussed and they did the performance
- in the moment, at the moment every moment
which John Bergamo ALWAYS excelled at bringing himself,
his spirit, his training and his hard work to the table
he played a cassette recording of the concert for me and his playing
was full of surprises, morsing solos, where drum solos were expected etc.,
and nailing the pieces
He played ghatam, kanjira, and morsing...........
and is remembered and spoken of fondly by L. Shankar
Fast forward 39 years
I have been rehearsing with L. Shankar now for a few weeks
working on 2 very different non related musical projects
- music from his solo albums and new compositions
mostly his non classical music
and a multi media project,
featuring his original compositions,
guitars and a world of percussion
He called me in July and asked if I was available for a performance 10/29/SA/16
to perform a concert of traditional Carnatic Music with him at Wesleyan University
in Connecticut as his original accompanist was unable to perform due to an injury
When I explained to him that his fans would be expecting an Indian musician
"I am not worried about you.
You studied with
Pandit Taranath Rao,
and Swapan Chaudhuri
and I will teach you the compositions" .................
His classical compositions by the way are not typical
they are difficult to learn, assimilate and make 2nd nature
with only comes from doing it, then doing it again and again and again
It was just like going back to school.
Pieces were recited again and again and recorded
Learned, practiced, dissected, worked on,
rehearsed and recorded and listened back to
worked on independently,
and together and with a metronome at all times
the most difficult piece in 9 and 1/4 beats = 37/16
Rehearsals went anywhere from 3 hours to 8 hours per day the last
few weeks in order to prepare for the performance.
Almost 40 years later that John was asked to do SHAKTI
I was asked to do this
(the only westerner ever invited to play
classical music of India with L. SHANKAR)
It is only because of Bergamo's great giving sprit
and INTENTION which
gave me the training as well as studying with
Pandit Tarnath Rao,
and with John Bergamo that this was possible for me to jump in willingly
as far as I know it is the only time he has used a western
percussionist to work with him in an Indian classical duo setting,
which is a tremendous honor for me, my teachers and mi familia
An amazing opportunity,
blessings and LOTS OF HARD WORK to learn
Thanks to mi familia,
and 40 years of making music every day of my life
that allowed me to do this
standing on the shoulders and in the shadows of the giants who came before me ..........
PERCUSSION OF INDIA REVIEW
"I know Christopher Garcia ... he is an angel from above. We have been working over 3 years touring and everything else, and many times we rehearse, all the time, as music is not my profession.
Music is my passion, Music is my LIFE, see…..We are always rehearsing so many times, and Chris used to come, he is one of the busiest percussions on earth, he is incredible, he also plays South Indian percussion, clay ghatam, kanjira and everything else......”
L. SHANKAR - composer, violinist, vocalist
"Garcia’s drumming cut through, complemented, and grounded the reverberating echoes of SHANKARS
masterful slides on the violin throughout the hall. Highlights included Garcia’s percussion solo in the fifth
composition, in which he built upon various rhythms for several uninterrupted minutes…..”
"Christopher Garcia is a critically acclaimed percussionist, composer, performer, ethnomusicologist, and multi-instrumentalist ……he is known in different circles for various reasons: either as a composer or performer either on drum set, percussion instruments of North and South India, marimba, or instruments of indigenous Mexico/Mesoamerica….. he had the privilege of receiving a full scholarship at California Institute of the Arts where he studied tabla with Pandit Taranath Rao, Leonice Shinneman, and Swapan Chaudhuri, and tabla , ghatam and kanjira with John Bergamo. In 1976, his mentor John Bergamo was asked to perform with Shakti in Canada and 40 years later Christopher was honored to be the first Westerner to be invited by L. Shankar (aka Shenkar) to perform Indian classical music with him. His compositions for woodwind quintet, pedal harp, classical guitar, pipa, piano, and percussion of India and Mesoamerica continue to be performed in the Americas and Europe."
“Garcia revels in playing the new and unexpected…..his musical vocabulary
not only spans centuries and cultures it's also spontaneous."
GERMANYS INTERNATIONAL BROADCASTER
"Christopher Garcia, a multi-faceted percussionist, added an eclectic array of musical instruments
from India, Mexico and other places creating an imaginative array of sounds along with the movement."
"We hear a variety of world percussion, including instruments from India, and MesoAmerica.
They sing and throb to the pulse of a single person, Christopher Garcia. He produces an extraordinary
array of sound and rhythms, effortlessly weaving in and out of familiar Indian patterns to those of Mesoamerica”
INDIAS PREMIER MAGAZINE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS .