"Kabir says..." a message for our time


‘Kabir says…’ is an art song I composed in 2015, a setting of a poem by Kabir (translated by American scholar Bob Hays). After being introduced to Bob in Minneapolis, he sent me his translations of poetry by the 15th century Indian mystic Kabir.

Having chosen a poem I set it to music for voice and piano which was premiered in London in 2016. A new version for voice and harp was given its world premiere by Eleanor Turner and Caroline Trutz in a ‘concert window’ during the current Covid Pandemic (2020). The timing of this performance gave me a deeper perspective on Kabir's message.

Bob’s version of the poem I chose focuses on an inner experience Kabir was describing. It makes the point that the divine is to be found within the seeker’s own body and mind, revealed as light, as sound, a wave of bliss, a knowing or more expanded consciousness.

In this time of great change these are the things many are finding space in the heart to tune into more and more.

Kabir extemporised his poems in a market place where people would travel from afar to hear his words. It occurred to me arriving at the concert that the setting of the church was also in a market place, making a poetic connection with Kabir. I love how his poem has travelled from one market place to another, from one continent to another, through six centuries, to be presented to an audience in this present time. It feels an honour to have collaborated with him and Bob, the musicians, and to see how Kabir’s words are still relevant to today, especially in this extraordinary time we are living through.

Listen to a Live Stream Performance of the Concert

The world premiere of “Kabir says…” for Harp & Voice was given by Eleanor Turner and Caroline Trutz at the Church of St Peter & St Paul, Uppingham, England, on 9 September 2020. 5.30 pm with a second concert at 7.30 pm.The concert, “Music & Solace” (Meditations for Harp & Voice), included works by Taverner, Hildegard von Bingen, Ayanna Witter-Johnson and Trutz.

Eleanor is currently Head of harp at the Royal Birmingham Conservatiore and both she and Caroline perform and broadcast internationally.

The world premiere of the original version was given by Katerina Mina (soprano) and Andrea Benecke (piano) in St Sepulchre’s Church London on 25 February 2016, followed by a German premiere in Munich.
Watch London performance on Youtube

Soprano Bhawani Moenssad and pianist Symeon Ioannidis recorded the song at the Berlin State Opera Rooms.

There is also a version for unaccompanied choir.

Read more about the music 'Kabir says...'