Later Works

Sohal went on to write Three Songs from Gitanjali which was commissioned by the Spitalfields Festival. The first performance was given at the 2004 festival by Sally Silver, this time singing in Bengali, and the Dante String Quartet. Unusually for a contemporary music piece, the work was encored by public demand.

A constructive working relationship with the ‘cellist Rohan de Saram and pianist Ananda Sukarlan led to more chamber works.

Then Sohal was commissioned by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to write a piece to celebrate the 70th birthday of maestro Zubin Mehta. For this occasion, he produced a large piece called The Divine Song for narrator and orchestra. This was based on text at the heart of the Bhagavad Gita (chapter 2). In 2010, Mehta himself launched the work with three performances in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem with Itay Tiran as the narrator. In these performances, the language of narration was Hebrew.  The work was received enthusiastically by audiences for whom it obviously had great resonance. The piece was recorded and broadcast by Mezzo Television. There were two further performances in January 2011, this time given by the Staatskapelle, Berlin, with Stefan Kurt as the narrator, again with Zubin Mehta conductor. This time the narration was in German.

Around this time Sohal met the Chinese harmonica virtuoso, Jia-yi He, and they became great friends. Jia-yi played Sohal’s Reflection for harmonica and piano in Singapore and Taiwan. Sohal made another version for him, at his request, for strings, piano and harmonica. Sohal wrote Shades VIII for solo harmonica for him which he played in New York and Hangzou, China.

In 2011, Sohal received a second commission for the BBC Proms. Returning to his love of large-scale orchestral forces, he produced The Cosmic Dance, which explores the creation of the universe as described in the Rig Veda from a time the predates the Big Bang. The work was premiered by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, conducted by Peter Oundjian, to a packed Royal Albert Hall, and got a tremendous reception from the audience.

Estate of Naresh Sohal
c/o Janet Swinney