This arrangement intertwines “America the Beautiful” with a melody in Raag Desh (from the Hindustani classical tradition of India). Desh means ‘country’ in Hindi (the reason why South Asians often refer to themselves as ‘desi’ – meaning ‘of the country’. It implies a unity that precedes Partition, and acknowledges that there was a time where India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were not divided into separate countries, as they are now.)
The “America the Beautiful” of India is called Vande Mataram. Just like America the Beautiful, it also celebrates these beautiful, varied landscapes, in a vast country filled with so many natural treasures. Vande Mataram is, unsurprisingly, in Raag Desh.
For immigrants, the love of country is often as much for America as for their country of origin, and I hope this arrangement evokes a sense of multi-national pride, especially among the ever-growing population of South Asians living in America.
Forthcoming: July 2021
The melody that intertwines with America the Beautiful in this variation is in Raag Desh. Many beautiful renditions of the raag can be found online by Indian classical artists.
This particular melody comes from the second movement of Reena’s Piano Trio:
Virtual premiere will take place in July 2021. View the America/Beautiful project site here.
Article about the Project:
Min Kwon Speaks on the Dream of America – San Francisco Classical Voice
Five Questions to Min Kwon (pianist America/Beautiful) – I Care If You Listen