A lifetime dedicated to music: Baluji Shrivastav

Musician Baluji Shrivastav  has recently been made an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours list for services to Music.

The Indian-origin instrumentalist has a long and illustrious career, including performances with Stevie Wonder in Hyde Park and Coldplay at the London Paralympics closing ceremony.

Baluji Shrivastav

Baluji Shrivastav

Baluji is also founder of the Inner Vision Orchestra, the UK’s only blind orchestra – an initiative supported by the GLFB – and the Baluji Music Foundation.

Blind since eight months old, Baluji’s courageous attitude to life is reflected in his approach to music. In his recent interview with the GLFB team, Baluji spoke passionately about his personal mission to develop the potential of visually impaired people so that they can contribute to society, become independent, and lead full and happy lives.

On being awarded an OBE
I am totally thrilled and humbled to receive an OBE. It is a validation of a lifetime dedicated to music. It is a precious recognition and affirmation of the work of the Inner Vision Orchestra to demonstrate the power of music to transform lives.

One of the aims of the Inner Vision Orchestra is to give a platform to visually impaired people to increase awareness of their work and talents and in so doing, create access to as many opportunities as they deserve. We may not be able to see, but we want to be seen, and to be heard!

On the role of musicians with sight loss in the music industry
This is an area which merits more research. I commissioned a piece of research, ‘Blind to the Facts’, 20 years ago to examine what difficulties musicians themselves said they experienced.

The Inner Vision Orchestra was formed as a result of the lack of sufficient performing opportunities identified in the report. Musicians with sight loss can be easily marginalised which means missing out on networking – an essential feature of the music business.

I would like to commission research into the UK music industry, to discover how many people with sight loss are employed, and what their roles within it are, how they are recruited, and what opportunities could be further developed and how.

On where his heart lies, musically
I was brought up with classical Indian music – a bottomless treasure chest of melody, rhythm and improvisation that enables me to respond and interact with other kinds of music.

Music is a universal language, and the power of a musician to communicate is not only affected by knowledge of technique, and the ability to listen to others, but on the ability to connect that knowledge with the fundamental emotions of human experience.

On Inner Vision Orchestra’s work
The Arts Council, Welsh Arts Council, GLFB and Islington Community Chest have supported the Inner Vision Orchestra in our 2012, 2013 and 2014 tours, which enabled us to play in some of the best venues in the UK, perform on BBC TV and Radio, and entertain many people. We published a report for venues and promoters to offer guidance on hosting blind performers.

Inner Vision Orchestra

Inner Vision Orchestra

In 2015, together with Dr David Baker from the Institute of Education (IOE), and supported by Arts Council England and British Council, we toured seven regions of India, recording and performing,  and researching  sightless musicians from different regional musical traditions.

It is going to be published as part of the IOE’s continuing research into visually impaired musicians’ lives, which Baluji Music Foundation is also supporting. We hope to bring some of these blind musicians and dancers to play with the Inner Vision Orchestra in the UK.

We are also working on a film about the Inner Vision Orchestra called ‘Colours of Sound’ (working title) set to be completed by the end of the year.

On his latest projects
I am planning a tour of my composition ‘Sitar-Guitar Suites’, trying to fund the Urdu opera I have composed with Italian Golden Globe Award winning film composer Dario Marianelli.

I’m also hoping to record a new classical album with the great tabla player Zakir Hussein for ARC Music Productions International, along with writing  ‘My Life and A Chair’ for Park Theatre.

I’m working on more Inner Vision Orchestra music workshops across London with music and dance for visually impaired people, and organising more performances as well. I have plans to set up an Inner Vision Youth Orchestra, and possibly an agency to find work for musicians with sight loss.

You can help GLFB continue our vital work for visually impaired children and adults in the local community by making a regular online donation, or by leaving a legacy gift in your Will, which will help us safeguard services for future generations.

Thank you! for donating over £13,000 on Geranium Day

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated to our annual Geranium for the Blind public collection.

A fantastic £13,106.78 was dropped into our volunteers’ buckets and collections tins across towns and stations in London.

Geranium Day 2016 volunteer collectors in and around greater London, helping raise vital funds for local services.

Geranium Day 2016 volunteer collectors in and around greater London, helping raise vital funds for local services.

Thanks to your generosity we will be able to reach a greater number of people in need of specialist care and assistance.

For example, your donations could help cover the cost of mobility training for 262 people with severe sight loss. That’s 262 people’s lives you will have helped changed for the better.

Mobility training plays a crucial part in reducing isolation and helping ensure blind people, like Chris, are not cut off from daily life.

Helping change lives – Chris’ story

Chris (not his real name) is one of the people whose life was transformed through mobility classes provided by a GLFB-funded member charity.

Chris said: “When I lost my sight five years ago, I was devastated. I felt that everything I knew, everything I had learnt, was about to be taken from me. I soon learnt that losing my sight also meant losing my independence – my ability to go about daily life unaided.  

Thanks to the help I received from my local blind welfare charity I have learnt to navigate my way around through regular mobility training classes. But it is more than just being able to go outside or walk from my bedroom to the kitchen.

It means the world to me to know that every time I get out of bed or step outside my front door that I am not at risk of injury and that I am able to go about daily life without the constant fear and worry I used to experience when I first lost my sight. I want to thank you for supporting the GLFB, it means a lot to sight impaired people like me.” 

 

GLFB’s Supporter Update – Read It Now!

It’s been another huge few months for the GLFB and our local member charities.
GLFB-Newsletter-Spring-2016

The latest issue of the Supporter Update illustrates how your donations are enabling the GLFB to empower teens like Allan who has been partially sighted from a young age.

Sight loss can happen to anyone at any time, and we want to ensure that we are able to be there to provide vital assistance when needed.

With the number of people in the UK with a visual impairment expected to increase to 2.25 million over the next four years, the need for donations to help fund our work is ever increasing.

Please consider sending a gift today so that we are able to reach more people like Allan in need of specialist support. Our warmest thanks in advance for any contribution you are able to make.

If you would like to know more about the impact of your donations in the local community, please contact us.

 

We are fundraising in your area on Friday 20 May 2016

Please stop and drop!

Staff and volunteers from the Greater London Fund for the Blind will be collecting in and

Geranium Day collection

Andrew and Tommy collecting vital donations to help fund services for people living with sight loss.

around London to raise vital income to help fund services for visually impaired people.

We have also teamed up with our nine member charities to make sure everyone who would like to donate their loose change – or better still, spare notes! – are able to do so.

Our team of collectors will be stationed across Greater London with their buckets and collection boxes throughout the day on Friday 20th May.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So if you see one of our collectors please stop, say hi! and drop your donation into their buckets and collection boxes!

GLFB street collection in your area on Friday 15th May. Please donate generously

Please help us make a difference to people’s lives by donating to our Geranium Day for the Blind campaign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A big thank you from all of us in advance for your kind donations.

Raj Bhayani, Head of Appeals and Digital Marketing