Adelaide Festival Centre presents, AHIMSA: Meditations on Gandhi


Australia | India  Adelaide Premiere

During times of social and political unrest, the great Mahatma Gandhi’s example of peaceful protest now seems more important and relevant than ever. Along with thousands of fellow Indians rallying against European rule, his great Salt March of 1930 led directly to the granting of Indian independence and has become a testament to the power of civil disobedience.

In this heartfelt tribute celebrating the 150th anniversary of Gandhi’s birth, Ahimsa features original pieces from one of Australia’s finest jazz composers Sandy Evans, inspired by the freedom fighter’s writings and philosophy of non-violence. Mixing Indian classical with contemporary jazz, Gandhi’s words are translated into Sanskrit by Chris Whiteman and Vasudevacharya to form the foundation of these captivating compositions.

Joining Sandy on stage are inspirational artist Sarangan Sriranganathan on sitar and highly esteemed and versatile tabla player Bobby Singh in an innovative pairing with the inventor of the airsticks (or ”˜electronic drums’) Alon Ilsar. Supported by double bass player Brett Hirst, don’t miss this entrancing evening of intercultural musicianship.

Musical Director, Composer, Tenor & Soprano Saxophone Sandy Evans

Sitar/Vocals Sarangan Sriranganathan

Tabla Bobby Singh

Double Bass Brett Hirst

Airsticks/Drums Alon Ilsar

Sandy Evans (Musical Director, Composer, Tenor & Soprano Saxophone)

Dr Sandy Evans OAM is an internationally renowned composer and saxophonist with a passion for improvisation and new music. She has played with and written for some of the most important groups in Australian jazz since the early 1980s, toured extensively in Australia, Europe, Canada and Asia, and been featured on over 40 albums. She leads the Sandy Evans Trio and Sextet, and co-leads Clarion Fracture Zone and GEST8. She is a member of Mara!, The Catholics, the Australian Art Orchestra (AAO), Ten Part Invention, austraLYSIS, Friends of Kim Sanders, Atma Blu, Waratah, Andrew Robson’s Tallis project, Ben Walsh’s Orkestra of the Underground and SNAP. She has performed with many leading jazz musicians including Andrea Keller, Paul Grabowsky, Silke Eberhard, Ingrid Jensen, Judy Bailey, Han Bennink and Terri Lyne Carrington. In 2018 she toured Germany and Sweden. She was a featured soloist in Lloyd Swanton’s widely acclaimed Ambon project.

Sandy has an extensive composition portfolio and has received many commissions from leading jazz, improvising and new music ensembles. Recent commissions include a suite in honour of legendary Australian saxophonist the late Bernie McGann, and a CD RockPoolMirror based on photographs by Tall Poppies’ Belinda Webster. Wesleyan University Press released Sandy’s composition Testimony, a major work about the life and music of Charlie Parker with poetry by the Pulitzer Prize winning American poet Yusef Komunyakaa, in the US in 2013. Sandy composed Kali and The Time of Change, the title track of The Sirens’ debut CD.

Sandy has a keen interest in Indian classical music. She collaborates regularly with Sydney-based Indian musicians Sarangan Sriranganathan and Bobby Singh and recently released the CD Kapture, a tribute to South African freedom fighter Ahmed Kathrada.

Her CD Cosmic Waves, featuring South Indian mridangam virtuoso Guru Kaaraikkudi Mani and Sruthi Laya, is released in India on Underscore Records. In 2014 she was awarded a PhD from Macquarie University for practice-based research in Carnatic Jazz Intercultural music. She began collaborating with Aneesh Pradhan and Shubha Mudgal during a Churchill Fellowship visit to India.

Sandy is an experienced teacher and inaugurated a Jazz Improvisation Course for Young Women run annually by SIMA. She is Lecturer in Jazz at UNSW and an Adjunct Lecturer in the Composition and Jazz Units at the Sydney Conservatorium. She appears in the Australian jazz documentaries eyond el Rocco and Dr Jazz.


Sarangan Sriranganathan (Sitar/Vocals)

Sarangan Sriranganathan is an extraordinary artist whose music evokes ultimate peacefulness and eternal joy. Perfection of tone and execution come as spontaneously to Sarangan as the free and unfettered flow of his ideas. His performances have earned global accolades at some of the world’s most famous venues and music festivals, such as the Queen Elizabeth Halls, Sydney Opera House, Womad Music Festival, Woodford Folk Festival and the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Bobby Singh (Tabla)

ARIA Award winner Bobby Singh was born in England and spent much of his youth in India studying tabla. He is well known for his work with artists like Circle of Rhythm, Rasa Duende, Jeff Lang, Slava Grigoriyan, DHA and the electronic/fusion group The Bird.

Brett Hirst (Double Bass)

Brett Hirst is one of Australia’s most in-demand bass players and has performed and recorded with such outstanding Australian and international artists as Mike Nock, Mark Isaacs, Lior, Katie Noonan, James Morrison and Vince Jones

Alon Ilsar (Airsticks/Drums)

Alon Ilsar is a drummer, composer, sound designer and instrument designer. He is co-designer of a new interface for electronic percussionists called the AirSticks, using the instrument in projects such as The Hour, The Sticks, Tuka, Kirin J Callinan, Kind of Silence (UK), Velize (US), Cephalon (US), Aether (US), Voyager (US), Bondi Dreaming, Silent Spring, Drumonair, Monotreme (US) and Brian Campeau. He has been heavily involved in theatre and film. Alon has a PhD from the University of Technology. He recently completed a one-year artist residency at Brooklyn College’s PIMA in New York.

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