The duo of Sitgetana Esther Palleja and Canadian Marc Cinanni unveil their first album in Sitges 

By Bàrbara Scuderi

[This article first appeared in Catalan in L’Eco de Sitges]

Mantranima album release Sitges
Original article in “L’Eco de Sitges.”

Mantranima’s first album is many things. A sensory experience, an ode to Indian music, and the harmonic brilliance of vocal coach Esther Pallejà and musician Marc Cinanni over the drone of a harmonium.

After almost three years of performing at festivals in Cataluña and the South of France—as well as in various locations across Sitges, Sant Pere de Ribes, Barcelona and Tarragona—Mantranima is  releasing their first album titled The Barcelona Kirtan Project.

Arranged by Cinanni, pianist and composer, the album contains 8 songs including popular mantras such as Om Tare Tu Tare, Om Mani Padme Hum, Ganesha Sharanam, and Sri Ram, as well as the song “Ama,” which is dedicated to their daughter.

Partners in life and in music, Marc’s and Esther’s spiritual connection flows freely through the harmony of their voices into a universe of meditation, relaxation and “Disconnection or connection, depending on how you see it,” says Pallejà. 

Indian music and Mediterranean flavors flow smoothly throughout the album.

The symbolism of Mantranima’s songs unveils itself as a musical experience which is both physical and sensory. Through repetition, the Sanskrit words and sounds of their songs are an ode to balance, freedom, and deep reflection.

The album includes the participation of producer and percussionist Roger Gascon, who plays sitar, tabla, and other instruments on the CD. Esther Umbert’s cello also complements Pallejà’s and Cinanni’s vocal harmonies, creating melodies that blend into an ambient soundscape.

The Barcelona Kirtan Project album by Mantranima
The Barcelona Kirtan Project, 2017.

The presentation of the album will take place the 1st of October at 7pm at Chiringuito de la Marina d’Aiguadolç. “More than a concert, it will be a party. We’ll play some of the songs live, and we’re very happy to present the album Sitges” adds Pallejà. This will be the first presentation before the album’s official release in Barcelona in the upcoming months.  

“With the album, we’re offering a proposal to chant for yourself, with others, or to connect to a more peaceful place.” —Esther Pallejà

Esther Pallejà has lived in Sitges for 18 years, where she works as a voice coach and is also a teacher in Barcelona. She studied at Institut del Teatre de Barcelona and although she doesn’t work as an actress anymore, she has performed in different companies in Spain, Europe, and Latin America.

Marc Cinanni, a Canadian of Italian origin, has lived in Sitges since 2013. Born into a family of musicians, he received Royal Conservatory piano training but has evolved into a multi-instrumentalist. His visit to Sri Vasudeva’s Ashram in 2010 awoke his spirituality and led him to play the harmonium, a wind instrument with keyboard from India.

Mantranima’s connection is strong, both artistically and as partners. Today, we live this unity through the intensity of their first album. 

The Barcelona Kirtan Project is available for purchase and download here.

Esther recently met one of our inspirations, devotional music master Krishna Das. Here’s her story on how it all happened one afternoon in Barcelona.

I must have been 3 years old when my dad teased me that he would buy me a drink—the one that I wouldn’t stop bugging him about—during a Carlos Cano concert in Barcelona. The deal was that in order for me to get that drink, I’d need to go say hi to Carlos in person.

Back then I was an outgoing little girl that had no idea about being on stages, famous people, or how people were supposed to act at a concert. So I wasted no time, went over to Carlos, and asked him straight up:

“Hi, my dad told me to come and ask if you can buy me a drink. Can you?”

Carlos laughed, took me on his shoulders, and off we went to the bar as my parents looked on astonished.

A workshop with Krishna Das, aka “the boss”

Last Monday, Marc and I went to a Krishna Das concert here in Barcelona. Then I attended a kirtan workshop where a small group of us got to know the legend a little better.

Marc teased me, saying:

“Why don’t you get a photo with ‘the boss’ while you’re there?”

The truth is that I couldn’t get that out of my head. So when the workshop was over, and my heart started to beat a little faster, I knew that I needed to tdo it. And I did. 🙂

Esther & Krishna Das.
Esther & Krishna Das.

But unlike the brave little girl I used to be, I flushed, and stuttered, and felt both self-conscious and incredibly awkward. It made me wonder whether I’ve learned anything at all over the past 37 years.

However, it was a good picture.

Love, Esther