The Beyond Foundation and Beyond Music project have released fascinating musical productions that bring together various world cultures. Regula Curti, founder of the two projects discusses her musical background and endeavors with World Music Central.
Can you give our readers a brief history on how you started singing and composing music?
I was born into a Swiss family. Over generations we have been practicing music and singing. Traditional folk songs were delivered to me by Grandmother and Mother. I got a broad music education from playing viola to singing and also entrepreneurial skills. In 1999 I received a Master in Music Therapy and Expressive Arts. Improvisation and finding new ways of expression on various instruments were helping to go beyond my classical music education. I started to compose and write my own lyrics. Some melodies I contributed to the Beyond albums were flowing through me at night. I would wake up and sing a melody in my phone and go back to sleep.
What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?
My music is based on a simple melody. As a child I used to play one note for hours and hours to find the right sound and vibration. Our Beyond music is transcendental, soul nourishing and uplifting. My “Credo” in making music: “Less is more”!
Who can you cite as your main musical influences?
I personally met Lord Yehudi Menuhin, one of the greatest violinist of our times. He was the first to introduce Indian music to the West. West meets East is an inspirational album by him and Ravi Shankar, the great Indian sitar player. He was encouraging me to use my voice to heal. – The Beatles have been an important influence in my life. I am fascinated by their Indian connection to Yogi Maharishi Mahesh and their studies in Transcendental Meditation at his ashram in Rishikesh, Northern India. I often spend time with my Swamiji at Mother Ganges. In India I get inspired more than elsewhere for my music projects.
Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.
It was amazing how people took our first album Beyond as something that helped them. I started with Dechen Shak-Dagsay, a Tibetan voice, to search for corresponding prayers and mantras in Buddhism and Christianity. During work in progress we both realized how important our music could become for a larger audience. As Tina Turner became a close friend to me I ask her to collaborate. She just finished her last tour in 2009 as a rock singer when I asked her to join the Beyond music project. She strongly felt ready to contribute her spiritual side, her chanting practice and her story of growth and development as a human being to the people. Beyond – Buddhist and Christian Prayers was awarded with Platinum. Children Beyond followed and it is used worldwide as calming and enhancing music for children.
Love Within Beyond is very popular for Yoga. In the first three albums I was involved in composing and arranging. The fourth double-album Awakening Beyond was the most difficult because of the Arabic music and the new harmonies. I needed a skilled producer and composer. I was fortunate to meet Kareem Roustom, a Syrian-American composer, who just finished a composition for Daniel Barenboim and his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.
What led you to record Awakening Beyond?
The world gets more and more divided. We are all feeling the depression. The first thing we think of prayer, something beyond presidents and preachers. Awakening Beyond embraces faith and traditions and offers an elegant musical variety to heal a troubled world. We are women of six different backgrounds and cultures; the US, Israel, Syria, Nepal, Switzerland and India raising our voices to find an unitary resonance meant to lift us out of our everyday trials, towards something greater.
Our album, Awakening Beyond, is the latest in our ongoing efforts to increase dialogue, respect and engagement via education and creative projects. I feel strongly that it’s time for us to move beyond the division, into a greater spiritual connection and mutual recognition. Music is the most universal language to unite us all. Music can built bridges between You and Me, Us and Them.
How did you connect with the vocalists featured in the album?
I believe in a divine plan. All the singers and musicians I worked with have been brought to me in a mystical way. If I look back it makes me smile with gratitude to all those wonderful stories of being connected to the Beyond collaborators at the right place and time. We all share the same vision that the essence, which unites us, is pure love.
Why did you select these specific artists?
I looked into their history of family-traditions and the delivery of songs and prayers over generations. The sound of their voices had to be deeply rooted in the culture they have been born into. I was looking for an authentic vibrational sound.
If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with for future projects, whom would that be?
Idan Raichel, Manfred Eicher, Sting, Caetano Veloso and Peter Gabriel.
You are one of the cofounders of the Beyond Foundation. What’s the purpose of the nonprofit?
Beyond Foundation, established in 2007 by husband Beat Curti and myself. It is a registered nonprofit organization supporting causes that unite cultures in the world through music to create cross culture understanding, awareness, dialog and respect. We were very fortunate in our entrepreneurial activities and want to give back.
What’s the scope of the foundation; local, regional or worldwide?
We started in the German part of Europe and expand now worldwide.
Can you tell us about some specific outcomes delivered by Beyond Foundation?
Many music productions over the years have been made possible through the foundation. In addition to cross-cultural music productions we support the preservation of the world’s heritage from Switzerland to Bhutan and across the globe by contributing to projects that bring traditional music to contemporary relevance.
Do you have any upcoming musical or foundation projects to share with us?
In 2018 the Beyond Foundation will go “beyond the beyond” in establishing an online platform to encourage musicians worldwide to create innovative, cross-cultural music beyond borders. Beyondmusic.org will become a global exchange place for like-minded musicians to meet and collaborate. We invite musicians from any genre to join, to inspire each other and to develop new Beyond music together. Beyond MUSIC projects will continue our legacy and passion in celebrating the universal power of music and creating a world team spirit of togetherness and compassion.