Who We Are

Get to Know the teachers at Kiirtan Academy
Dr. Jyoshna  La Trobe 
My name is Jyoshna and I have loved music all my life. Kiirtan provides me with an avenue of developing a direct connection with the divine, a deep and loving relationship with the my deepest inner self. I listened to a wonderful variety of music when I was young thanks to my parents who had very different tastes, such as Tchaikovsky, Chopin,  Rachmaninov, French composers as well as Joan Baez, Buffy Saint Marie, Maori music and so much more.  

I began writing love and devotional songs and chants in New Zealand when I was a teenager, and it has continued throughout my life. I also see it as a way of documenting my life's journey as a spiritualist, kiirtaniya, singer/songwriter, woman, mother, neo - humanist and fighter for the rights of minorities and indigenous people's. The albums I have recorded form a musical diary of my life, including 'Touched by the Sea', Sounds of Silence, 'Longing', 'Magnificence', Unity Hours I, II and III, Avarta Kiirtan I,III and III, etc. In this process I have been able to collaborate with many wonderful musicians all over the world, including Amitabha (Erik) who is teaching at the Kiirtan Academy also.  
When I decided that my musical career would be in ethnomusicology I   completed my Master of Arts at Auckland University then a PhD at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) in London, my topics being the Music Culture of Rarh and later the ancient Kiirtan Tradition of Rarh.  As an ethnomusicologist I find that I can help create bridges of understanding between people of different musical backgrounds. With the support of the Janet Topp Fargion at British Library World Music Archives I have collated and housed my own audio visual collection called the Rarhi Bangla Kiirtan Collection (C1211). In London I met Amitabha, we became friends and started playing kiirtan and recording together.

At present I am living at Ananda Bharatii in Ireland where I lead kiirtan every day, teach in the Kiirtan Academy and work in Sunrise Kindy where my daughter Isabel goes, l (she's nearly three years old). I am part of the Mount Shannon Arts Committee that runs events and a festival each year. It is here at Ananda Bharatii that I went through my greatest struggles and my greatest joys (Isabel was born here) and in August of 2020 I was motivated to instigate the Kiirtan Academy, inspired by P.R Sarkar, who has said, "now the time to manifest the glory of kiirtan". 

Amitabha and I are looking forward to sharing with you, all that which nourishes us and inspires us to, in turn, inspire the new  generation of kiirtanyas. I also love to share my research and experiences of the ancient Rarhi kiirtan tradition, as a singer/songwriter, and with my guru Shrii Shrii Anandamurtiji. Thank you for joining us. I am excited to be with you as we expand our knowledge, and understanding of kiirtan, play and laugh together in the blissful kiirtan flow. 
My name is Erik Azzopardi (Amitabha). 
My love for the piano lead me to pursue performance and music studies at undergraduate level at the University of Malta. I continued my my studies post-graduately at Trinity College of Music in London in 2004 and then made London my new home. As a pianist, I have worked freelance as a classical musician, as well as in employment in two private schools in London. 

For the last three years I took up weekly vocal lessons privately with a number of professional singers, and have been a member of the London Symphony Chorus for the last 4 years. Singing with this choir has taught me a lot about general musicianship and has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. 

In education, I have enjoyed working in a range of settings, as a very busy piano teacher, as group activity and workshop leader with children and adults in a number of Ananda Marga projects in London and in Malta, as well as other private employers. 

About six years ago I wrote my first children's show and since then I wrote a couple of ballet shows that were performed in London, as well as a number of songs for voice and piano. I have known Jyoshna for over 15 years and have worked with her closely on a number of projects. As a margii, I discovered kiirtan at a young age through my parents, and have been leading kiirtan since the age of 15. Kiirtan is something that I am very passionate about. 

During my years in London, it was my great joy to run introductory Ananda Marga retreats and would regularly give kiirtan workshops to total beginners. I found it extremely rewarding to see people discover kiirtan for the first time and to help them explore it. I look forward to sharing my love of music and kiirtan with you all.
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