Chicago Folklore Ensemble, 2023
Chicago Folklore Ensemble’s album Praner Alap (“Meeting of Hearts”) contains a selection of songs from Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry collection Gitanjali (Song Offerings). Praner Alap is the fruit of a collaboration between dear friends from around the world, joining their wide array of artistic backgrounds to explore the depth of Tagore’s music and poetry.
Listen to the album:
- Amare Tumi Oshesh Korechho
- Ami Hethay
- Kolahol To Baron Holo
- Megher Pore Megh
- Ei To Tomar Prem
- Jagote Anandajoggye
- He Mor Debota
- Peyechhi Chhuti
- Jibono Jokhono Shukaye Jay
- Tumi Kemon Kore Gan Koro
- Kolahol To Baron Holo (instrumental)
Subhajit Sengupta – vocals
Swarnali Banerjee – vocals, recitation, manjira (11)
Lucia Thomas – violin, oud (1), Hindustani 5-string violin (4, 12), dotara (6), khamok (6), manjira (6)
Sam Hyson – accordion, violin (1, 12), guitar (1)
Molly Greening – cello
Dhananjay Kunte – tabla (2, 3, 7, 10, 12)
Soumyajyoti Ghosh – bansuri (1, 6, 7)
Justin Peterson – upright bass (6, 11)
Nate Torrence – khol (6), frame drum (10)
Mehtab Kirtan Singh – tabla (11)
Shamim Aqil – dhol (11)
Max Bessesen – saxophone (3)
Gene (Zhenya) Nemirovsky, audio engineering and production
Lucia Thomas, assistant audio engineer
Lucie Van Der Elst, booklet design
Lyrics translated from Bengali into English by Lucia Thomas, except for the song “Jibono Jokhono Shukaye Jay,” which is Tagore’s original translation.
The story behind the album:
In 1912, Bengali polymath Rabindranath Tagore published his own English translations of his devotional poetry in a collection entitled Gitanjali (Song Offerings). The work cemented his reputation as a world-class poet and led to him being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. Unbeknownst to most of his Western readers, many of the poems in the original Bengali version of Gitanjali (published in 1910) were lyrics of songs that Tagore had composed – songs Bengalis today still know and love.
When vocalists Subhajit Sengupta and Swarnali Banerjee immigrated to the United States from West Bengal, they shared these songs with friends they met in Chicago, including instrumentalists Lucia Thomas, Sam Hyson, and Molly Greening. This group of friends worked together to create innovative arrangements of Tagore’s songs that combine the emotional sensibilities of various musical styles. They collaborated with musicians and artists from around the world to record this album and produce an accompanying booklet with new translations by Lucia Thomas and original artwork inspired by each song.