During the evening of the summer solstice on Saturday, a group of Baton Rouge locals gathered in a dimly-lit room at The Red Shoes on 2303 Government St. for an immersive concert of worldly sounds.
The concert, referred to as a gong bath, featured a harmonious medley of Tibetan singing bowls, gongs, bar chimes, frosted crystal bowls, wind chimes, optically-clear crystal bowls, a rain stick, a crystal pyramid, a root chakra handle bowl and ghanta bell. All of which were played by a total of two performers, Olivia Sophia and Daniel Leonard, who don’t use their last names when performing, of Calming Tones.
Upon arrival, attendees were invited to lay on the floor with pillows and blankets. The lights were then dimmed, and the seven individual Chakra points were identified. Chakra refers to spiritual centers in the body, according to Indian beliefs.
The reason for identifying them, Daniel said, is so the audience can connect the tones of each crystal bowl to the Chakra point they represent. Each bowl is tuned to a particular frequency and the harmonious blending of these frequencies in concert stimulate a sense of peace.
“We wanted to bring that [Chakras] up to help harmonize the body,” Daniel said. “We’re always striving towards a balance.”
Once the music began to play, the audience was completely speechless for the next hour and a half. The senses are narrowed down to two-- sound and touch. When experienced from the floor, the vibrations of each and every instrument pulsate throughout the room -- the soothing hum of the song bowls, the soft tinkling of the chimes, the strong presence of the gongs.
The energized composition of sounds was inspired by the rising sun and the seasonal Monsoon rains, according to Olivia.
“Summer and spring are more invigorating,” Olivia said. “So we like to reflect this quality in the music.”
Although the performers stay situated at the front of the room throughout the duration of the concert, the music comes from every direction. Each and every sound is not just heard, but felt throughout the body. The audience is left in awe of the sheer volume of sound these instruments are able to produce. It is as if you don’t want to open your eyes because at that point, the magic is ruined.
At the end of the gong bath, the audience collectively let out an “ohm” and were prompted to share their experience. Almost unanimously, a sense of relaxation and released stress was felt by members of the audience. Some described the experience as receiving a massage. Many felt that they were temporarily unaware of the time passing by.
This achieved sense of healing and relief is the primary goal of Calming Tones. The duo perform at yoga workshops, weddings and individual sessions with the same intentions -- to increase positivity, promote stress relief, encourage relaxation and to energize.
“There is so much stress going on in the world today that we have to have some point where we can be in the moment,” Olivia said. “Not worrying about that past, not worrying about the future, but being in the moment.”