Song Offerings of Rabindranath Tagore
You have made me endless,
such is your pleasure.
You empty this frail vessel
again and again,
always filling it with fresh life.
Our Gitanjali is a two-hour show that takes audiences on a spiritual journey via the music and poetry of legendary Bengali polymath Rabindranath Tagore. In 1912, Tagore published a book of devotional poems called Gitanjali, and the work was so impactful in Europe that he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. However, Western readers of Tagore don’t always know that many of the poems in Gitanjali were originally lyrics of songs that Tagore composed, songs which are still known and beloved in Bengal today.
Our Gitanjali presents English translations of several poems from Gitanjali paired with the songs sung in the original Bengali and improvisations in the songs’ corresponding ragas, intertwining Tagore’s exquisite verses with the music that brings the poetry its full emotional resonance. In this show, vocals and narration by Subhajit Sengupta and Swarnali Banerjee, both originally from Kolkata, India, are accompanied by sweeping strings and accordion harmonies. Over the course of the show, the performers share stories and personal experiences that illustrate the enduring power and relevance of Tagore’s creation.
The performers in this show are also members of a Chicago-based Bengali folk band Ochin Pakhi.