Creston librarian discussing Indian music as library’s next living book

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Aaron Francis is the chief librarian at the Creston and District Public LIbrary.

Aaron Francis is the chief librarian at the Creston and District Public LIbrary.

The Creston and District Public Library’s living book for May is Morning Majesty: An Introduction to Indian Classical Music with chief librarian Aaron Francis.

Musical style and variety are as diverse as the people on the planet — a planet that Francis has travelled widely, gaining an understanding and appreciation for its melodies and rhythms. In his journeys and studies, Francis encountered Kambhoji, a majestic classical musical mode that is currently very popular on the Indian landscape. Francis is eager to share his love of Indian music, opening the door for the uninitiated.

Kambhoji has been described by Indian classical performing artist Charulatha Mani as “regal; majestic like a temple elephant adorned with precious finery.” It is hailed by critics as superb in its regal attire, its royal gait and sublime moods, enriching in charms, heart soothing and sensuous.

Francis’s studies and analysis opened his eyes to how Kambhoji performers creatively manipulate a small number of musical elements to create a rich and ever-changing complexity. General principles used to develop this particular performance apply, to a greater or lesser extent, to classical Indian music in general, and understanding these principles naturally leads to greater appreciation of the music. In his presentation, Francis will try to lay bare the core elements of a typical performance through listening, analysis, and discussion.

In addition to serving as chief librarian, Francis has had a rich and varied romance with the music of the world, both as a student and as a performer. In 2008, he completed a master’s degree in ethnomusicology from the University of BC. His thesis examined improvisational strategies for the Korean shawm (taepyeongso). He has studied at the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts, the National Center for Namdo Performing Arts and the Pandit Jasraj School of Music, and with numerous private instructors in Korea, India and Canada.

He has performed in bluegrass bands, Indonesian gamelan ensembles, Korean percussion groups, Ghanaian drumming groups, sacred harp choirs and as a soloist. His musical ambitions now rest solely on his younger son Max’s shoulders, as he is too busy running the library to practice anymore.

The Creston library’s Living Books speaker series is a way for community members to learn from each other. Living books are real people, your friends and neighbours, volunteering to share aspects of their own story. Through living books, the library seeks to encourage the sharing of knowledge and passion between people. Each month, the library hosts a get-together where a member of your community shares their personal experiences. Topics are varied, from art to travel to local history to coping with loss, and everything in between. Attendees of the speaker series learn more about the people in their community and their diverse backgrounds and expertise.

Hear Francis’s story of musical adventure at 1:30 p.m. May 25 at the library (531 16th Ave. S.). Admission is free. For more information on the Living Books speaker series, including upcoming living books or how to become a living book, contact Gail at 250-428-4141 or