ED Blog

Grammy winner shares passion for environmental engagement—and wows SFU Surrey

July 30, 2018

On the eve of Surrey’s recent Fusion Festival, SFU’s Surrey campus mezzanine was transformed into an international stage for a preview of one of the Fest’s cultural highlights—an appearance by Indian composer and conservationist Rick Kej, together with a collection of acclaimed international musicians, who were joined by the newly formed Surrey City Orchestra.  

Kej, a Grammy award-winning composer, brought a fleet of musicians from Ghana, Vietnam and New York. A highlight was the appearance of Indian legend Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, a Grammy winning guitarist known for his pristine pure guitar style—and for having passed the sound on to former Beatle George Harrison.

More than 100 guests on the Mezz, and many students who watched from the gallery, were treated to a moving, hour-long set showcasing Kej’s commitment to and passion for environmental sustainability. 

Through his music, accompanying videos and narration between songs, Kej urged the audience to rally for the environment, recognize the effects of climate change and take action to alter lifestyles and activities that put the environment at risk. Kej has made this plea world-wide, including at the 2015 U.N. summit on climate change. 

How was it possible to bring such an internationally recognized suite of musicians to Surrey? The idea was presented to SFU and the City of Surrey by Vivek Savkur, president of the B.C.-India Network. A member of the SFU India Advisory Council, Savkur secured support from Gold Key Insurance to sponsor the musicians’ accommodation. Air Canada provided flights, while TD Bank and other sponsors came on board to help make the event happen.

During his SFU Surrey performance, Kej pointed to SFU’s mandate of Engaging the World, and how he and his musicians were involved in the very same goal when it comes to environmental sustainability. (He similarly shared his message during his Fusion Fest performance, drawing an overflow crowd to the SFU Celebration Stage.)

What a night! I was so proud of our SFU team, led by Nav Chima and Sandy Moro, who worked diligently to help pull this event together. It was great to partner with the city of Surrey and all the sponsors to help put on such a memorable show. There have been so many great events on the Mezz; Ricky Kej and Friends will go down as one of these truly amazing experiences. 

And beyond that experience remains Ricky Kej's message. As we continue to engage with each other and our communities, let’s be sure that we take it to heart.

Steve Dooley
Executive Director, SFU's Surrey Campus