The Berklee Indian Ensemble presents: “Shuruaat” – Clinton Cerejo meets Berklee

Student blogger Anahita Bahri is a hand percussionist and pianist studying Music Business and Electronic Production & Design at Berklee. She is also a regular blogger for The Huffington Post, and a media relations assistant at Berklee. She hails from Chandigarh, India and graduates in 2015.

Have you checked out the latest tearjerker from Google India, trending on YouTube with over 5.7 million views  - after just one week online – and counting? The mastermind behind the emotional music bringing many to tears is Clinton Cerejo, a multi-instrumentalist, vocal and music arranger, composer, and producer of over 2,000 commercial jingles. Cerejo has made a mark on many major musical works in Bollywood and has worked extensively with world-renowned artists including A. R. Rahman, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, and Kailash Kher.

Clinton Cerejo joins the Berklee Indian Ensemble at the Berklee Performance Center on November 26.

As a student in the Berklee Indian Ensemble, I have a lot to be thankful for as we approach Thanksgiving: Cerejo joins the Berklee Indian Ensemble at the Berklee Performance Center stage for Shuruaat – Clinton Cerejo Meets Berklee, Shuruaat (meaning “beginning”) features an expansive repertoire from a Carnatic Thillana to Indo-jazz experiments. 

In addition to Cerejo’s visit, a variety of students will debut original compositions at the concert. Rohith Jayaraman, a vocalist and Music Therapy student hailing from San Jose, California, presents “Rasikapriya Thillana,” an Indian classical piece. A Thillana is a rhythmic piece in Carnatic music that doesn’t incorporate lyrics until the third verse. Jayaraman and his mother wrote this piece together for his songwriting debut. Jayaraman’s family friend wrote the lyrics for the Thillana on nature, whereas traditional Thillanas are usually devotional.

“It’s really exciting because we’ve never done a purely classical piece in the Indian Ensemble before,” says Jayaraman. “When it comes to the Thillana, I would say to approach it very open-mindedly because it’s not something that you’ve heard before or often. It’s very, very traditional. The instrumentation is very traditional and there’s just a lot of notes that are close together so it sounds dissonant but pretty cool, hopefully.”

New Delhi’s Sashank Navaladi is the architect behind “Sajna.” Navaladi is a sarod player and Electronic Production and Design student at Berklee who got into music composition around two years ago. Navaladi listens to a lot of fusion and independent artists like Kaavish, a Pakistani band, which he says heavily influenced the composition. “I’m really into Sufi poetry and came across the great Bulleh Shah’s “Ghoonghat Hole Na Luk Sauna.” I ended up composing a tune for it, which was just an experiment at first. I had a tune in mind but was just looking for lyrics,” explained Navaladi.

Lucknow vocalist and Electronic Production and Design student Dhruv Goel will also feature an original composition at the concert. Before Berklee, Goel scored music for documentaries and toured around India with his band, Jester. Goel’s composition, “Pinha” is a song based on a ghazal (type of poem) written by Fatima Wasiya Jaisi. “It is, at its core, a song about hope and feeds off Ms. Jaisi’s own journey of finding her identity,” said Goel. “The concert brings together different genres and diverse sounds of contemporary India into one tightly knit show which will delight all music lovers alike!”

Student performers Dhruv Goel, Sashank Navaladi, and Rohith Jayaraman.

Founded in 2011 by Indian Berklee alumna and current faculty member, Annette Philip, the Berklee Indian Ensemble started with just 18 members. The ensemble is now one of the largest and most diverse ensembles at the college, performing a variety of styles including Indian classical, Quwali, folk, Indian rock, and Indo-jazz music.

“Shuruaat” also marks the start of Berklee’s India Exchange, a new initiative co-founded by Annette Philip (music director and executive producer) and Clint Valladares (artist relations and strategy), and a platform for cultural conversation, through the composition, collaboration, and performance of original Indian music.

Join us in Boston or online on Tuesday, November 26th as we take a musical journey with renowned producer, arranger, and vocalist Clinton Cerejo at the Berklee Performance Center (BPC). Tickets are available at the BPC Box Office or online. For sneak peeks visit the ensemble’s YouTube channel.

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