Transcending Borders One Note at a Time
A N D T H E
Transcending Borders One Note at a Time
The HUM Ensemble was founded in 2009 by Sandeep Das who, after spending many years as a member of the Silk Road Ensemble, was inspired by Yo-Yo Ma's vision and sought to carry it on through his own musical work.
Meaning literally "we" in Hindi, in English the acronym HUM stands for (H)armony and (U)niversality through (M)usic. The ensemble promotes cross-cultural exchange by bringing together outstanding artists from diverse music traditions to share ideas, create new compositions, and exemplify the ideal of a global community.
Today, HUM is an organization in its own right and, in addition to its performance activities, provides financial assistance to specially-abled children with an aptitude for the arts. Since its inception it has significantly impacted the lives of seven visually-impaired, specially-abled artists. You can learn more about the social cause of the organization here.
As an ensemble, HUM has performed extensively in India and the U.S. and currently tours five major projects: Delhi to Damascus, East Meets West, Taal Mudra, and Soul Yatra in addition to various forms of traditional Indian Classical Music. General information about each of these projects can be found below, and additional booking information can be requested through our contact form.
Delhi to Damascus
A Dynamic Collaboration Between Syrian and North Indian Traditional Music
Delhi to Damascus is a celebration of the historical and cultural ties between India and Syria that date back to nearly 130 BCE, when both countries were integral members of the legendary Silk Road. This connection facilitated a vibrant cultural, linguistic and musical exchange that can be witnessed to this day in their common Sufi music tradition and the ancient Indo-Iranian and Indo-European Sanskrit language, which originated in Syria and eventually traveled to India to become the language of the Hindu Vedas.
This shared heritage is what inspired Tabla maestro Sandeep Das to initiate the Delhi to Damascus project, a unique initiative that is the first of its kind. For this collaboration he brought in Syrian Oud master Issam Rafea, Indian Vocalist/Sarangi player Suhail Yusuf Khan, and Sitarist Rajib Karmakar.
From deep-rooted explorations of the Indian Raag Kirwani to masterful Arabic Maqams and the asymmetrical 14-beat rhythm cycle Dhamar, the Delhi to Damascus repertoire takes the listener on a mesmerizing journey of exquisite poetry and lyrical exposition along the winding Roads of Delhi (India) to Damascus (Syria)– transporting the audience to a time and period gone long ago.
It paints a lush picture of human spirit transcending all borders for surviving and thriving and evokes images of merchants with their caravans traveling through desert sand to trade in the bustling bazaars of Damascus or Jaisalmer. It is symbolic of music being the universal language of love and human connection, and it is a reflection of our common history and the power of embracing unity over divisiveness. More than just a performance of music, Delhi to Damascus is a spiritual journey that enchants the audience into a harmonic trance and a world of vivid sound, color and beauty.
"[The Delhi to Damascus theme] questions the role of music, culture, and art in our lives and in our current scenario– how we must popularize these things to foster connections among individuals and communities to shape a world perspective through musical compositions."
East Meets West
Sandeep Das & Mike Block (Cello/Vocals) are a groundbreaking, cross-genre duo that originally met as members of Yo-Yo Ma’s Grammy Award-winning Silk Road Ensemble. By drawing from their respective traditions and folk songs such as "Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram" and "Where the Soul Never Dies", the pair has crafted a one of a kind program that frequently tours and gives residencies at universities and schools throughout the world.
East Meets West is available as a Tabla and Cello duo or as a trio with other HUM Ensemble instrumentalists.
A Tale of Two Cities
The subtle dialogue and rhythmic interplay between musician and dancer is an art form that has been cultivated and refined in India for thousands of years. Showcasing the elegant Odissi and fiery Kathak styles coupled with the pulsating rhythms of the Tabla, these performances have dazzled audiences across the globe with an enchanting visual display of mastery and melody.
Performances of Taal Mudra typically include 1-2 dancers, Tabla, and one or more instrumentalists depending on the program.
A Confluence of Indian
Rhythm & Dance
Dynamic and novel, Soul Yatra is a unique collaboration that spans the three lush cultural traditions of India (Tabla/Sandeep Das), China (Erhu/Shaw Pong Liu), and Europe/America (Cello/Mike Block). The upbeat repertoire of the trio dances jovially through traditional tunes, reimaginations of folk songs, and a colorful collection of original compositions and arrangements inspired by the musicians' journeys across the globe.