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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Arnold

"Ashokan Farewell" - Played at the base of an "ancestor" tree in the Amazon Rainforest!

This past March I went on a two-week immersion in the Amazon Rainforest. I brought my backpacking violin along and recorded one of my favorite pieces of all time - Jay Ungar's "Ashokan Farewell" - in one of the most remote places on earth, the Amazon headwaters in Ecuador.

I've probably played this piece more than any other in my life. It was a favorite of my grandfather, George Arnold, who used to ask me to play it for him whenever we would visit. I felt honored to play this piece at the base of a sacred "kapok" tree, which the Achua people of the rainforest believe to be where their ancestors' spirits go when they die.

This is quite possibly the first time this piece has ever been recorded (or even played!) in the Amazon Rainforest. Violins don't do so well in this climate, after all! Luckily, I had my Magic Fluke "Cricket" backpacking violin and a carbon fiber bow with me, both of which withstood the trek and the weather admirably.

I feel so grateful to be able to play this soulful piece of music in this sacred place. Hearing the wildlife singing around me as I played, with the thunder rumbling in the distance, at the foot of one of the biggest trees I've ever seen... was breathtaking.

I hope you enjoy this recording and get a sense of how special a place the Amazon headwaters is.

PS - If you're a musician or other kind of artist and you want to experience an Amazon Rainforest immersion like the one I went on, please reach out to me via my website I will be leading a group of 8-11 creatives for an 11-day journey to the Amazon headwaters in Ecuador in March of 2023. We will go on hikes through the forest to visit sacred waterfalls, commune with ancient trees, share our gifts with the indigenous peoples of the forest, and (if you want to) participate in shamanic rituals. It will be a life-changing experience.

Joseph Arnold Violinist, Alexander Technique teacher, Founder of the Soulforce Arts Academy -- Sign up for my bodacious mailing list and blog to learn more about my upcoming book tentatively entitled, "Soulforce Arts: The Vital Role of Musicians & Artists in a World That's Lost Its Mind."

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