- Ayyam-i-Ha is a Baha’i festival that is joyously celebrated in countries and territories all over the world. It is a time of hospitality, generosity, and caring for the needy. This year Ayyam-i-Ha runs from February 26-29.
Parties would be dead without it, all dancing would cease, long journeys would feel even longer and the members of glee would no longer be able to express how they feel. Yes, music is pretty essential to everything we do in life. It’s almost impossible to go even one day without hearing it on the radio, from buskers in the street, from a builder whistling while he works. But why? Why does music form such an important part of our society? In the Kitab-i-Aqdas Baha’u’llah wrote:
We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high…
We could glean, then, that the reason music is so powerful, whether we are conscious of it or not, is that it has an effect on our soul, and that ultimately its purpose is to uplift us.
‘Uplifted’ is how a group of friends felt while sitting in a cafe in East London when they decided to organise an open mic night where people could jam and play uplifting music together. They decided to call it Carmel Nights and five years later, Carmel Nights has become an annual concert hosted by the Waterman’s Theatre, Ealing and this year’s recent event attracted over 200 audience members. Even though over the last five years some of the specifics of the event have changed and developed, the purpose of Carmel Nights has remained the same: to bring people together to be elevated by live music.
This year’s concert, Rekindle: 2013 featured four acts; all hand picked musicians whose music would enrich and inspire the crowd. First up was Rosanna Lea, a London-based singer and song-writer. Her songs touch on topics ranging from family ties to the search for meaning in each of our lives and the need for each of us to all work towards peace. The second act was Asian-fusion band Flux. Playing a completely instrumental set, Flux used a variety of instruments ranging from double bass and bansuri to synths. After the interval singer-songwriter Eliza Shadadd took to the stage. With Scottish and Sudanese roots, her music was influenced heavily by folk, jazz and blues and her intricate fingerpicking and honest vocals mesmerised the audience. To finish off the event came Brina, bringing the reggae vibe to the evening. Brina and her band made a loud and powerful contribution, which had the whole room singing and dancing along.
Interspersed between acts was the hilarious, and severely underrated Danny Braunstein, as the emcee for the night, who used the flame that would be rekindled in everyone due to the music, as an excuse to point out the fire exits either side of the stage.
The evening attracted people from all over London as well as other places. Orla Harney from Ireland heard about it through a close friend: “I was fairly amazed by the standard, it was unbelievable that people can make that kind of music”. Junior Seri was visiting from France: “I absolutely loved it. It was mind blowing. I felt like they were all doing the same thing, they were all sharing what was in their hearts…music is the way of getting closer to our true nature, sharing something that we cannot share with words.” Lua Rahmani also from Ireland: “It truly was an uplifting event”.
It is heartening to see that the wonderful art of music, has found a space in Carmel Nights to be its true self: a ladder for the soul.
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