Behind Winter Solstice: From Within

Since prehistory, winter solstice has found a place amongst the most sacred of occasions. From ancient Incan fasts to midwinter feasts held thousands of years ago at the historic Stonehenge, the astronomical event has been honoured by cultures and communities across the globe.

While the celebrations take shape in infinite ways, the common threads of hope, renewal, and reflection bind them together as from this night on, dreary dark days are soon to wane, and the sun returns with her promise of golden days.

This year, at Winter Solstice: From Within, we celebrate the celestial occasion with
Baluji Shrivastav OBE and an ensemble of visually impaired artists. Through the resplendent sounds of the surbahar, tabla, and other melodic South Asian instruments, they welcome us to dive into their imagination and experience how they create music magic in their minds.

For Baluji, the Winter Solstice drew him to the famed story of Lord Hanuman and the sun.

As the story goes, a mischievous and hungry Hanuman mistakes the sun's lustre for the most tempting ripe fruit. Leaping across the sky in pursuit, his adventure is interrupted by the thunderbolt of the King of the Gods, Indra, rendering him unconscious.
Yet, this legendary fable takes a turn as Hanuman is bestowed with divine gifts of power and protection. 

It is this tale of childlike innocence, the radiant sun, and his own journey with visually impairment that serves as the inspiration for Baluji's unique interpretation of the Winter Solstice.

Blinded at 8 months old, it was music that helped Baluji interpret the world around him. He showed an innate gift for melody and rhythm, imitating Indian music legends such as Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi as early as one years old. 

Though his pursuit of music was not without the struggles of marginalising attitudes, Baluji pushed past those boundaries to make music accessible for himself and other visually impaired artists. Through his work, Baluji proves that there is no limit to creativity.

Joining Baluji is Japanese violist Takashi Kikuchi. Takashi has dazzled with his musicianship, playing across the world and at prestigious spaces such as The Victoria and Albert Museum, and the closing ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic Games. Tabla maestro Yousuf Ali Khan, vocalist Linda Shanson, and brilliant projection artist Dimitris Menexopoulos will join to bring this evening to life with magic.

Away from all the Christmas frenzy, the artists invite us to join as a community in reflection, solace and inspiration as we search from within.
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