Bali Spirit Festival 2010: Culture, Sanctity, Harmony!
The BaliSpirit Festival 2009 (http://music.techsparks.com/?p=3) was one of the most unusual and creative
celebrations of yoga, dance and world music that I attended last year, and I am delighted to be back again this year for the third edition (www.BaliSpiritFestival.com)!
The event this time is spread across two venues in Ubud: one for yoga, the other for music. The festival will also donate to local health awareness
programmes; $17,000 in 2008 went to the Bumi Sehat clinic, and $17,000 in 2009 to the Pelangi Community School.
It was terrific to attend the opening meeting on March 31, and connect with the wonderful musicians I had met last year and discover new groups as
well. Many of the bands are planning cross-genre collaborations, and quite a few have been confirmed for this week. There is a promising mix of
performances from Asia, Australia, Middle East, Europe, Africa and North America, though the Latin component could have been stronger.
Bali is becoming a stronger source of light for the world thanks to such global collaboration and commitment, according to the attendees. Indeed, the
opening ceremony had strong influences of Bali Hindu traditions with constant greetings of Om Swasti Astu and Om Shanti. There were rainshowers
in the afternoon, regarded as cleansing rains bringing blessings in the coming week.
A welcoming dance by local children set the stage for the opening ceremony, followed by official ministerial welcomes. The Legong Dance by Bulantrisna
Djelantik and Cudamani showcased brilliant costume designs and intricate mythological choreography.
The tone for the evening – and indeed for the entire festival – was set by two superb fusion performances. Ten djembes and ten bamboo gamelan pieces
were featured in a high-energy contemporary African+Indonesian fusion set by Nyoman Windha ensemble. The call-and-response interactions and loud
whoops of joy by the drummers drew hearty applause from the audience.
The stage for the next performance was also a classic Balinese blend of stone platforms, temple design and two trees framing the set. The six vocalists
and four instrumentalists of Nyanyian Dharma (Soul Power Bali Mantra Group) delivered an astonishing interpretation of Balinese Hindu chants with
the backing of electric guitars, drums and keyboards.
Unforgettable images from their set were of the soaring vocals of the female singers on their knees, vocalist extraordinaire Ayu Lakshmi walking into
the audience with incense sticks and lotus flowers, and a breathtaking rendition of the sacred sanskrit Gayatri Mantra in a fusion format.
A balanced blend of tradition with modernity, East with West, rain with smoke: this is the essence of the BaliSpirit Festival.
I spoke with Ayu Lakshmi after her set; she said she had just returned from a series of performances in India, and would be playing again in Bali later
in the week. I also caught up with musician and composer Nyoman Windha; his ensemble is working on a CD album. We look forward to the next four
days at the festival for more cosmic performances as well!
Written by : Madanmohan Rao