Classically trained Paul Avgerinos is up again for a Best New Age Album Grammy with ‘Grace’ next month.
“My goal has always been to make music that is spiritually uplifting and healing, both for myself and everyone else,” says composer-producer Paul Avgerinos who is hailed by All Music Guide as one of the “Giants of New Age Ambience”.
“When I was young, I studied all kinds of music including the classics, developing my musical vocabulary and skills. I went to Peabody Conservatory (of Music) as a full scholarship student in bass violin and graduated in 1981 with a solid base of musical skills.”
By then, the 58-year-old had already performed as a bassist with Isaac Stern, Baryshnikov and many other classical artistes. After graduation, Avgerinos served as principal bass of several major symphony orchestras around the world, and gave solo recitals as well. He also toured as a bassist with Charles Aznavour, Liza Minelli, and jazz legend Buddy Rich.
With his own recording studio in Redding, Connecticut, Avgerinos has produced albums and worked with artistes, including Jewel, Willie Nelson, and Run DMC. He has also scored for movies, commercials, television and cable projects.
The 2016 Grammy-nominated ‘Grace’ is Avgerinos’ 22nd album. It is a return to his Spacemusic roots. Explains Avgerinos: “According to Stephen Hill, co-founder of a radio show called Hearts of Space, that started playing my music back in 1987, the term is used to describe music that evokes a feeling of contemplative spaciousness. This style has been a recurring focus for me over the last 30 years.”
It is a marked change from Avgerinos’ 2015 Grammy nominated album, Bhakti, which boasts his compositions performed by musicians of classical Eastern and Western instruments, underscored by sweet vocals. The album features premiere artistes including Neel Murgai on sitar.
“Grace and Bhakti are very different musically although they both have my constant theme of spiritual love and devotion.
“Bhakti is very rhythmic and structured with vocals sung in English and Sanskrit. Grace is very expansive and contemplative with no drums, bass or percussion, well suited to a massage, Reiki treatment or other holistic practice.
“Grace is the daughter of my most popular albums, Love and Bliss that date from 2009 and 2011 respectively.
“I endeavored to combine the very best aspects of both parent albums as we hope that our child will combine the parents’ best qualities and go on to out shine them both.”
Avgerinos is always focused on the harmony of pure divine love. “Love is pure and simple, never contained by any artificial words or boundaries.”
The power of music to heal is undeniable. Avgerinos says he remembers the day he realised that 43 years ago “as clearly as this very moment”.
“Saddened and disheartened by my parent’s divorce, I sat alone in our darkened porch with my eyes closed, drawing a horse hair bow sticky with tree rosin across the string of a bass violin, my cheekbone pressed against the neck of the instrument so that the deep resonant vibrations poured directly into my skull, my whole being vibrating with the majestic powerful perfection of sound.
“I had clearly heard the voice of God in one simple pure note. I had discovered the power of music to heal, bless, forgive and lead us to love, our true and highest nature. Thus, I began my life’s work of making healing, uplifting music.”
Avgerinos was brought up in the Greek Orthodox Church, but joined Bhakti yoga guru Sri Chinmoy’s ashram at the age of 16.
“I had many deep spiritual experiences when I was very young and needed the guidance of a spiritual master to help me to understand the meaning and depth of my experiences, guiding me on the path of spiritual awakening.
“It was hard for my parents to understand and they were understandably worried and concerned.
“As they saw the good fruits of spiritual focus and discipline, they relaxed more around my life choices.”
The upcoming 58th Grammy Awards sees many independent albums nominated, including Grace, Bhakti Without Borders (by Madi Das), and Asia Beauty (by Ron Korb)
“Indie artists will continue to gather more listeners and support as the democratic aspects of streaming and online music distribution make it easier than ever to reach new listeners in a very specific genre.
“This is a very auspicious development for artistes like me since I am able to reach more people than ever before with my gentle healing peaceful music and that is the entire reason why I have been releasing albums for the last 30 years.”
The Grammys ceremony will be held in Los Angeles on February 15 (in the US).