Shanti – soprano, amplified piano, cello, 6 women's voices

Natasha Zajac, soprano; Kate Jensik, vc; Paul Fowler, pno; Colin Polnitsky, djembe; Adrienne Lovell, Nicole Asel, Elizabeth Sullivan, Kristi Merola, Adriana Lomysh, Keri Behan, voices.

Also available for women's choir and ensemble.
ASCAP Young Composer Award, commissioned by Natasha Zajac.

From Natasha Zajac –

“Shanti,” meaning “peace” in Sanskrit, uses a devotional chant to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, who represents the energy of abundance. “Abundance is usually thought of as simple prosperity, but it is far more. Any form of abundance is the core meaning. Thus it can be friends as wealth, good health as wealth, and so on. The highest state of abundance is love. It is the pinnacle of every good and abundant thing. This specific mantra serves as an aid in the peaceful and harmonious transition to new and positive energy states” (Thomas Ashley-Farrand, Healing Mantras, pg. 145, Random House, 1999).

Om to she who is the great goddess
Vishnu’s constant, serene consort
To Lakshmi, I worship.

I came across this mantra in a center for Siddha yoga meditation while participating in a day-long retreat with my Swiss cousin Yasmine, who was studying at the center. Chanting this mantra with her was one of the single most incredible spiritual experiences of my life. That was the last moment I spent with Yasmine before she was murdered in 1993. This mantra has stayed with me and continues to be an inspiration.

I asked Paul Fowler to set “Shanti” for voice, cello, djembe drum, and six women’s voices because I wanted to include as many incredible people in the first performance as I could manage. The piece is programmatic, relating my life’s experiences with the mantra. Paul divided the piece into seven sections, each holding a letter of Yasmine’s name and describing a specific occurrence in my life:

Y – invocation to the goddess (voice)
A – the pain of Yasmine’s death (cello solo)
S – seeking a path (drum entrance)
M – epiphany (drum solo)
I – finding a path (women)
N – peace (cello solo)
E – offering thanks (voice)

score excerpt