Musician and Founder of the Inner Vision Orchestra
The heightening excitement of the Rio 2016 Paralympics is currently rippling through our social circles and at Breathe this is no exception. Blogger and current Breathe intern Lena Mistry recently caught up with seasoned Breathe Regularly performer Baluji Shrivastav (OBE) who played alongside Coldplay at the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics as a part of the British Para-orchestra.
Awarded the OBE in June 2016 for services to music, Baluji is the founder of the Inner Vision Orchestra of 14 blind and visually impaired musicians. As a blind musician who excels in playing the sitar and tabla among other traditional Indian musical instruments he describes being part of something as prestigious as the closing ceremony as “Wonderful, global, cosmic – and the most incredible and humbling experience.”
Baluji has been performing since he was three years old having been sent to live at Ajmer Blind School after being blinded as a baby. Since this very young age, music has always been a part of how he communicates with the world. His love and dedication to music led him to set up the Baluji Music Foundation, a charity that carries the motto sharing the joy of music. Its purpose is to encourage disabled people to get involved with music.
As a musician he loves to collaborate with other musicians too, “So long as they have an open mind, and musical sensitivity.” So who are his favourite collaborations? “Pop musicians like Stevie Wonder, Classical musicians like Charles Hazelwood, dancers, film makers, actors, poets even painters,” he says, “Because they share in how I relate to the world through their art. My main discipline is Indian Classical music, and this has given me the insight to relate to other genres. Indian music in particular comes out of a system of chanting and a philosophy of the power of sound. Some music is energising, some calming, it is the most abstract of all the arts and directly affects the nervous system of the body.”
Internationally acclaimed Soprano Victoria Oruwari, who features on one of the Inner Vision Orchestra’s tracks Love is Blind, was also invited to be a part of this year’s events too, having sung the National Anthem at the ceremony held at Stoke Mandeville for the lighting of the heritage flame for the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
Performing for Breathe Arts Health Research again later this month, on September 21 at Guy’s Hospital as a part of National Eye Health Week, Baluji says “It is always special to play for people in a healing environment and it is uplifting to meet the wide range of people in the hospital and listen to their feedback after the performance.”