Ascension - Niguma Vol. 2
2017 / Sangeeta Kaur Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
The albums Ascension - Niguma Vol. 2 and Niguma Vol. 1 (2016) are the music for Sangeeta Kaur’s recently-staged and choreographed production of Niguma: The Mantra Project, the first-ever Mantra Opera. Kaur is a Vietnamese/American trained opera singer, mantra singer and producer, and is the jury-voted winner of the 2016 Global Peace Song Awards in the “Opera/ Classical Music” category. She is a sound artist who is inspired to bring healing and awakening through music and yoga. Kaur earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Opera Performance from California State University/Long Beach and a Masters Degree in Vocal Performance from The Boston Conservatory of Music. She performs a blend of classical and sacred music and has performed throughout the US, Europe, Asia and Australia. Her voice is clear, beautifully nuanced and very expressive. Kaur’s calling is to bring her gifts and training as a singer and producer and merge them with powerful, meaningful messages that can benefit the world in positive and uplifting ways.
The opera was inspired by Lady Niguma, one of the most important and influential yoginis and teachers of the late 10th century in India. She founded the school of Buddhist practice called the Shangpa Kagyu Lineage and devoted her life to spiritual activity, helping others achieve realization, inner freedom, and even Buddhahood. The opera tells the story of a young girl named Manda and her enchanting journey of awakening. The production features dancers as well as singers, aerialists and aerial choreography, and the instrumentation includes keyboard, harmonium, electric guitar, harp, percussion and a string quartet. The music featured on this album is a powerful and fascinating mix of new age and world music, traditional opera, and so much more - a truly unique endeavor. I didn’t hear Vol. 1 of the project, but I hope to remedy that situation soon.
Sangeeta Kaur first learned of Lady Niguma’s story from one of her Tibetan Buddhist teachers in 2009 and, for several years, envisioned staging her story. She wrote, produced and starred in the first production of this opera in November 2016. After seeing the results and hearing the positive reaction from both the audience and the performers, she understood that something magical was happening. She is now moving forward with her new company, Empower With Art Productions, to bring timeless ancient teachings, magical and mystical stories to the stage combined with fine arts such as modern dance, ballet and musical theater with cutting-edge visuals and music performed by world-class artists.
Whether or not you follow Buddhist or yoga spiritual practices, and whether or not you appreciate opera, this album is a wonderful listening experience! The music and story should be accessible to most listeners as much of it is very contemporary even though the inspiration is ancient. I’m very excited and impressed with Ascension - Niguma Vol. 2 and hope to see a live production at some point. The album is available from Amazon and iTunes. Very highly recommended!
October 17, 2017