Surabhi Ensemble is a global music and dance collective representing different cultures. The group was founded by Indian veena artist Saraswathi Ranganathan in 2010 and is based in Chicago. The ensemble began with the intention of producing cross-cultural music influenced by Indian raga. It has grown to include Arab Maqam music from North Africa, the Middle East as well as Spanish flamenco, with Andalusia, Spain (Al-Andalus in Arabic) being the natural end point to the journey of the many cultures represented within the Surabhi Ensemble.
The mission of the Surabhi Ensemble is to demonstrate the connections between cultures and to teach a positive message of togetherness in creating, performing, and demonstrating new works of music and dance. Members of the group work in many settings such as schools, hospitals, theaters, concert halls, festivals, refugee organizations, neighborhood parks, and cultural centers to bring this positive message of cultural unity and outreach.
The artists in the Surabhi Ensemble are dynamic individuals who have traveled the world to study, teach, perform and to gather materials in an effort to create new music with a diverse and rich palette. The group has taken extra time and care to absorb and integrate the rhythms, melodies, and musical structures of the various cultures represented. Some of this work has now been recorded and released on the self-titled debut from the Surabhi Ensemble. In addition to Saraswathi Ranganathan on veena, the ensemble features Ronnie Malley (Arab oud and vocals), Carlo Basile (Spanish guitar), Dhananjay Kunte (tabla), Ganapathi Ranganathan (Mridangam), Bob Garrett (percussion), Kinnari Vora (Indian folk, classical, and modern dance) and Marisela Tapia (Spanish flamenco and Arab dance). The ensemble has also enjoyed collaborating with many guest artists including Mamadou Tama (African “talking” drums), Greg Nergaard (bass), Kinan Abou-afach (cello), Chihsuan Yang (violin and erhu), and Morikeba Kouyate (kora).
Surabhi has enjoyed many positive reviews of its work and currently has an ongoing residency at the prestigious Instituto Cervantes Chicago. To quote the words of Teresa Hernando, the Cultural Program Coordinator of the Instituto Cervantes, "Surabhi Ensemble is a perfect combination of musicians and storytellers, blending wonderful music with humor and memoir." The current CD release was made possible by a recent grant from the City of Chicago. The group is excited to be presenting their CD release concert on Saturday, October 7th, 2017 at 7PM CST the Instituto Cervantes, 31 W. Ohio Street, Chicago.