INDO-WESTERN FUSION WITH A TWIST OF JAZZ, Sands Around Infinity “captivates” as it blends familiar Western musical language with exotic colors and moods distinctive to music from India. “Ethereal, lilting, breathtakingly virtuosic” with “mastery beyond description,” this unique chamber ensemble weaves it’s magic through enchantingly ornamented vocal melodies, virtuosic cello lines, and a strong rhythmic jazzy bass. Throughout is dedication to the principles of Truth, Goodness, Beauty, or Sathyam, Sivam, Sundaram.
Sands Around Infinity draws in and uplifts audience members of all ages with lush harmonies, improvisational spontaneity, and heartfelt depth of expression. Sophisticated arrangements of traditional bhajan songs of India are the core of the trio’s varied repertoire. The rapport between the musicians and the group’s engaging manner of demystifying the Indian elements heard in the music contribute to making concerts remarkably accessible and appealing to both non-Indian and Indian audiences. “I recall the first time that I heard Sands Around Infinity. With no idea of what I was going to hear, I was immediately taken with the beauty of their music. The combination of spiritual color and jazz structure was captivating. I arranged two concerts for these gentlemen, the first for an older audience and the second for college students. Both were resounding successes. If you haven’t seen this group perform, you need to!” according to Kenneth Cox, Vocal Dept. Chair & Opera Director, Denver University Lamont School of Music
The extensive musical training all three members received while studying and living in India is artfully synthesized with their strong foundations in Western classical music and jazz. “Within their first notes it is clear that this music is an authentic expression of the identity of this unique family of musicians, Westerners who have lived for years on the Indian subcontinent and imbibed deeply from these musical traditions,” said Dr. Sarah Morelli, Ethnomusicology Professor, Denver University
Since 2011, Sands Around Infinity has concertized for enthusiastic audiences throughout the USA, in Germany and India. In addition to performing, the group’s workshops for all ages encourage fun exploring the creative process while stimulating the musical imagination. Veteran educator and Fulbright Senior Scholar Dr. Paul Erhard has conducted over 200 workshops, and taught master classes at Indiana University, Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music, Peabody Conservatory, and other leading music schools in USA and throughout Europe.
Dr. Paul Erhard, double bass, is professor in the College of Music, University of Colorado (CU) in Boulder, where he has taught since 1986. Paul has pioneered musical and expressive dimensions of playing the double bass in Indian Classical music since 1999, and has studied both North and South Indian classical music with master Indian musicians in India and USA. In 2002, he spent 6 months studying Carnatic vocal music in India on a “Senior Performing Arts Fellowship” from the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS). As a 2013-2015 Fulbright scholar, Paul’s research project “Training the Musical Mind” involved interviews with 35 of India’s most eminent Carnatic and Hindustani classical vocalists and instrumentalists. Paul formed the Indo-American Fusion trio Atmic Vision in 2004 with two of India’s foremost classical musicians, bansuri flutist Annada Prasanna Pattanaik and tabla drummer Muthu Kumar. With critically acclaimed tours in 2005, ’07 and ’08, Atmic Vision has performed 43 concerts in 10 states and Paris, and given 50+ Indian music workshops for 9000+ students.
As a soloist, Paul performs throughout the USA, Europe and Asia. Paul performed Nino Rota’s Divertimento Concertante double bass concerto with the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra in Bellingham WA in February, 2015, and will be performing the Rota again with the Longmont Symphony and Grand Junction Symphony in Colorado. He has adjudicated many prestigious double bass competitions in the USA and Europe and been a frequent guest artist at double bass conferences in USA, Europe and South America. Paul received a Bachelors of Music from Eastman School of Music as a student of James VanDemark, and Masters and Doctoral degrees from Juilliard as a student of Homer Mensch. For more information visit Paul at his CU Double Bass Studio website.
Jeffrey Erhard, lead vocals, harmonium and percussion, grew up with Indian music, language, and culture during his years as a student in Southern India. Studying Hindi and Sanskrit, Jeffrey developed fluency in pronunciation and inflection of Indian languages, which was refined in daily bhajan singing and Veda chanting. Immersed in both Hindustani (North Indian) and Carnatic (South Indian) classical music traditions, Jeffrey lived in the world of raga (pitch), tala (rhythm), and bhava (expression). He learned to sing the complicated intricacies of Indian vocal ornaments. Having absorbed elements of Indian rhythm, Jeffrey’s percussion playing adds a vibrant dimension to Sands Around Infinity. As the lead vocalist in Sands Around Infinity, Jeffrey draws upon a musical wealth of over 300 memorized bhajan songs and hours of memorized Sanskrit Vedic chants.
Returning to the USA to pursue an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Colorado (CU), Jeffrey joined the CU Collegiate Chorale and University Choir in the CU College of Music. Singing in these groups during his undergraduate and graduate years, and studying Western classical voice with CU College of Music professor Jeffrey Gemmell, Jeffrey developed new dimensions of tone production and expression in his singing. In October 2014, Jeffrey sang the US National Anthem (solo) and recited a Vedic chant with his brother Robbie at the White House as the invocation for a multicultural conference. Jeffrey graduated with Honors in December 2014 with his Masters in Mechanical Engineering (Product Design) from CU, having been on the Dean’s list throughout his years of study at CU. In January 2015, Jeffrey was invited to the inaugural function of the Maharudra Yagna at the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago to chant a Veda invocation and sing bhajans.
Robert Erhard, cellist, grew up with Indian music, language, and culture during his years as a student in Southern India. In India, Robert studied Hindi and Sanskrit and was very active singing bhajans and chanting Vedas. This immersion in the world of Indian music laid a strong foundation of musical understanding that Robert draws upon in his cello playing. In May 2015, Robert graduated with highest honors with a Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance from the University of Colorado College of Music, where he studied with cellists Judith Glyde and Thomas Heinrich. At CU, he performed in the College of Music’s chamber music program headed by the world-renowned Grammy-winning Takács String Quartet. From his sophomore year, he was a member of CU’s Early Music Ensemble, receiving training in baroque music from Dr. Elizabeth Farr. Robert was assistant principal cello for the 2015 Boulder Bach Festival, and will be featured as a soloist as the festival’s “Featured Young Artist” for 2015-16.
Robert is the undergraduate winner of the 2015 CU Honors Concerto Competition, and will be performing the Schumann Cello Concerto with the CU Symphony Orchestra in 2015-2016. He was selected the 2012 “Outstanding Freshman”, 2014 “Outstanding Junior” and the 2015 “Outstanding Graduate” by the faculty at the CU College of Music. In October 2014, Robert recited a Vedic chant (with his brother) and performed as a cello/double bass duo with his father at the White House for a multicultural conference. Beginning in Fall 2015, Robert will be pursuing his masters as a teaching assistant at Eastman School of Music under cello professor Alan Harris.