Ila Paliwal: ILA – The Earth Symphony

The Namesake

Listening Post 288. Mother Nature showers humanity with gifts but she gave Ila Paliwal a little more—her name. “Ila” is Sanskrit for “Earth” and on her second album Paliwal, a classically trained Indian vocalist, songwriter and producer, celebrates her namesake planet and channels her reverence into protecting the environment and embracing diversity. Like the heavenly body it honors, the album is lush, from Paliwal’s soulful voice (in Hindi, Bengali and Sanskrit) to layers of Indian and Western orchestration. Born in Agra and now based in New York, she has lived on four continents, all of which are represented on ILA – The Earth Symphony; her collaborators number more than 150 and include London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, South Africa’s Soweto Gospel Choir, Bengaluru’s Raveolution Strings, plus Grammy-winning artists Ricky Kej (composer) and Wouter Kellerman (flute). Befitting its eco-friendly purpose, ILA showcases an epic example of recycling, transforming Vande Mataram (I Bow to Thee, Mother), an anthem to Mother India and regarded as the country’s national song, into an homage to “affectionate, abundant, fresh-as-sandalwood” Mother Earth (video 1). The album surveys every aspect of creation, beginning with wind, water, sky, fire and earth, in the luxuriant Shiva (The Protector of Five Elements, video 2). The world dances gently to Ta Dheem (The Waltz of Nature, video 3) and vigorously to Jhoolein (The Swing of Life, video 4). In Badara (The Rain) percussion heralds thunder and lightning while strings announce after-shower greenery (video 5). For all her artistry, Paliwal could not have foreseen how timely her album, released in August 2020, would be. Or could she? The year 2019 closed out the hottest decade in human history, the sudden pandemic highlighted the dangers of human encroachment on nature and widespread lockdowns dramatically, though temporarily, reminded us what clean air looks like. Could ILA be whispering to Ila? (Padmasheel Productions)

Ila Paliwal: ILA – The Earth Symphony
Ila Paliwal: Vocals
Music: Ricky Kej
Lyrics: Jyoti Venkatraman, I.P. Singh
Additional music and lyrics: Ila Paliwal

Ricky Kej: Keyboards, synth
Dominic D’Cruz: Bass
Rakesh Bhardwaj: Percussions
Prashant Trivedi: Pakhawaj
Fateh Ali: Sitar
Ehsan Ali: Sarangi
Varijashree Venugopal: Bansuri
Annanda Prasanna Pattanaik: Bansuri
Wouter Kellerman: Flute
Mohit Sharma: Jai Tharang
Vaniel Veigas, Chaithra H.G.: Santoor
Lonnie Park: Guitar, backing vocals
Pallavi Arun, Varijashree Venugopal, Siddhartha Belmannu: Choral vocals

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Voxaphonic Choir
Raveolution Strings: Indian Strings section
Soweto Gospel Choir

Related post. Ila Paliwal: Navaratna, Listening Post 77, December 12, 2016
https://worldlisteningpost.com/2016/12/12/ila-paliwal-navaratna/

 

Vande Mataram / Mother, To Thee I Bow
Original lyrics: Bankim Chandra Chatterjee/Original music: Hemanta Mukherjee, Jadunath Bhattacharya/First sung by Rabindranath Tagore

(From the lyrics in Bengali and Sanskrit)
Mother, to thee I bow/Mother, to thee I bow

Affectionate, abundant, fresh as sandalwood
With moon-like calm/I bow to thee, Mother
Whose radiant light gives delight/Whose flowering and blossoming trees are splendorous
Ever-smiling, pleasant speaking/Who gives happiness and blessing

I bow to thee, Mother/I bow to thee, Mother

Thy million lovely, diverse and remarkable sounds/Thy million arms that sustain all actions
Make my weakness into strength/O, the one who gives many powers
I bow to thee, savior/The one who halts my enemies

I bow to thee, Mother/I bow to thee, Mother

Thou art wisdom, Thou art law/Thou art the heart, Thou art the purpose
Thou art the vital energy in the body/Grant me strength in my arms
Grant me devotion in my heart/Thy image is housed in temple after temple

I bow to thee, Mother/I bow to thee, Mother

Thou art Durga, whose ten arms are endowed/O, Lotus, the one who resides on a lotus leaf
Words and wisdom giver, I bow to thee/I bow to the one who is lotus-like, spotless, unequaled
Affectionate, abundant mother/Serene, austere, smiling and adorned
O, the one who maintains the Earth/Mother

Mother, to thee I bow/Mother, to thee I bow
Mother, to thee I bow/Mother, to thee I bow

 

Shiva / The Protector of Five Elements

(From the Hindi lyrics)
He who holds the bow and the river Ganga (Ganges)
He who holds the damar (drum) in his hands and the fire in his body

He who holds the trident in his hands and wears a necklace of skulls
He who is three-eyed and has a blue throat

He is the protector of the five elements and the savior of three worlds
Wind, Water, Sky, Fire and Earth/They are all the embodiment of Shiva

You are the embodiment of five elements and the image of Nature
Everyone dances your Tandav dance

He who holds the bow and river Ganga
He who holds the damaru (drum) in his hands and fire in his body

 

Ta Dheem / The Waltz of Nature

(From the Hindi lyrics)
The waltz/
The waltz
Listen to the tune of the Waltz/
The whole universe is singing this tune
Either this tune/Or the other tune
We are playing a melody

The whole universe is singing this melody/let this melody become our anthem
We have played and grew up in your presence/We have fulfilled our dreams from your waterfalls
The universe is filled with your fragrance and rainbows/In the evening the whole universe sings along with the birds

The waltz/Listen to the tune of the Waltz
The whole universe is singing this tune
Either this tune/Or the other tune
We are playing a melody

The whole universe is singing this melody/let this melody become our anthem
We see the stars from the planet earth/You are the reason we are able to sunbathe

This is your love only and not favor/And we know it
That is why in the whole universe/you are considered mother

The waltz/The waltz
Listen to the tune of the waltz/The whole universe is singing this melody
Either this tune/Or the other tune
We are playing a melody

The whole universe is singing this melody
Let this melody become our anthem

 

Jhoolein / The Swing of Life

(From the Hindi lyrics)
We have learnt from ancient texts and stories/From the caves of knowledge
We get beautiful fragrance from the soil/This fragrance then becomes our breath

The flow of the river/Brings flowers and abundance of color
Let’s swing, let’s swing/The swing of life

Let’s not forget/Let’s not forget Mother Nature
Let’s not forget

It’s quite straightforward/Please listen carefully
We get shade from trees

Look carefully, everything is in front of you/The lost path to your home is right in front of you
We get beautiful fragrance from the soil/This fragrance then becomes our breath

The flow of the river/Brings flowers and abundance of color
Let’s swing, let’s swing/The swing of life

Let’s not forget/Let’s not forget Mother Nature
The rhythm is ancient but the tune is timeless/The streams are the same and so are the forests

They are welcoming you with open arms/Why are you running away
There is a fragrance in the soil/This fragrance becomes a part of our breath
The flow of the river/Brings abundance and color to our lives

Let’s swing, let’s swing/The swing of life
Let’s not forget/Let’s not forget Mother Nature

Dance as much as you can/Celebrate
This world is yours/Why are you so uptight?

Spread your wings/Soar as high as you can
Let’s swing, let’s swing/The swing of life
Let’s not forget/Let’s not forget Mother Nature

 

Badara / The Rain

(From the Hindi lyrics)
Look at the dark clouds that have gathered/They are rumbling and making a loud sound

Lightning is flashing in our eyes/Thunder is in our ears

Look at the dark clouds that have gathered
There is greenery everywhere/I see lively faces everywhere

Look at the dark clouds that have gathered/They are rumbling and making a loud sound

 


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