Steve was born in New Delhi, India, in 1963. He grew up in North London, learning violin from age 7, and studied Maths at Manchester university. Steve’s career is a tapestry woven of three main threads: music, psychology and spirituality, and economics, but music and psycho-spiritual development have proven to be his calling. Since the 1990’s Steve has been immersed in the writings of Integral Philosopher, Ken Wilber, and he composes Integral music, in particular, a large scale Integral oratorio, ‘Blue Pearl’: a One World Oratorio’, for choir, solo singers and orchestra (click here for more info). Steve also runs workshops in Integral Meditation (click here for current workshops).
He started his working life as a freelance violinist based in London, playing with a number of top ensembles, including the London Symphony Orchestra, Kent Opera, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the English Chamber Orchestra, the Kreisler String Orchestra, the Contemporary Chamber Orchestra, Serenata, and the Adderbury Ensemble.
He took time out to travel round the world, during which time he decided to try another avenue, economics. He took the Masters degree in Economics at the London School Of Economics (a well known training ground for musicians, such as (Sir) Mick Jagger!), and went on to have a successful career at London Economics (www.londoneconomics.co.uk), a consultancy specialising in micro-economic advise to industry and the public sector, whch included working with Professor Nick (now Lord) Stern, who subsequently authored the 2006 “Stern Review” on climate change.
A personal crisis during this time led Steve into psychotherapy, and thence to training as a Psychosynthesis counsellor at the Psychosynthesis and Education Trust (www.psychosynthesistrust.org.uk). He combined work as a counsellor with playing music again – now combining drumming (including the west African djembe) and singing with his violin playing in the Carnival Band from 1999 to 2017 (www.carnivalband.com). The Carnival Band are best known for their UK Christmas tours with English folk legend, Maddy Prior. Steve made the difficult decision to leave this fantastic group in order to pursue new musical avenues, including Integral music (see below). Steve worked for many years as musician/song writer/actor with Bamboozle Theatre, a company working with children with special needs (www.bamboozletheatre.co.uk). After moving from London to Devon in 2003, Steve formed his own band, Blue Jewel. He had been writing songs since 1993, and Blue Jewel was a vehicle for his own songs and arrangements (he also wrote for Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band). Blue Jewel recorded two albums and was very successful in the Devon folk scene before the band split up in 2013. Steve and two colleagues formed a ceilidh band, Blue Jewel Ceilidh Band (www.bluejewel.info) which is one of the most sought after bands in the region. In 2015 Steve formed a folk duo with Mike Cosgrave, Cosgrave & Banks (www.cosgraveandbanks.com).
Psychosynthesis led Steve to Ken Wilber’s writing (www.kenwilber.com), where he found, for the first time, something he had been seeking for years: a way of understanding, and integrating psychology and spirituality which made sense to a person rooted in rationality, a revelation that Wilber’s work has brought to many thousands of people around the globe. Steve’s personal development journey has included several years of psychodynamic therapy, men’s work, and meditation within the Buddhist tradition, including many meditation retreats, with the Triatna Buddhist Community, and at Gaia House in Devon, with teachers including Rob Burbea, Chris Cullen, Martine Bachelor, Stephen Batchelor, Christina Feldman, Charles Genoud and Yanai Postelnik. He has been on the one week intensive in Mindful Self-Compassion with Chris Germer and Kristin Neff. He has been meditating since 1990, and his desire to make sense of the spiritual path, and how it fits with both psychology and the rational-scientific worldview has occupied him since that time, informed all the while by the extraordinary synthesis provided by Wilber’s Integral approach. Steve worked for leadership consultancy, Inner Leadership, applying both Psychosynthesis and the Integral model to organisational leadership. Steve attended the first Integral Ecology conference, in Boulder, 2003. He presented at the Integral European Conferences in Hungary in May 2018, online in May 2020. The IEC conferences are the foremost gathering of Integral thought leaders adn practitioners in the world. Steve has taught counselling, has co-led Men’s Rites of Passage intensives, and now runs Integral workshops and retreats (click here for more info).
In 2009, Steve’s music writing branched out into classical, with a string quartet written for his father, who is an amateur cellist. Steve had been aware for a while of the possibilities for ‘Integral music’. He had bought CDs by American singer-song writer Stuart Davis, who had dedicated an album to Wilber. In 2013, Steve began writing Integral music, diving in at the deep end with an ambitious ‘Integral Oratorio‘, ‘Blue Pearl: a One World Oratorio’ . Steve completed this major work in 2019, and the world premiere will be in London on 14th May 2022 (click here for more info). Music is a superb medium for expressing Integral perspectives, and Steve is very excited about how this new Integral Oratorio can give an audience direct, vivid tastes of Integral experiences. Integral music is profoundly ‘psychoactive’ – a word Ken uses to describe the effect of reading about integral: it activates Integral experiences and perspectives within you. Ken has listened to the oratorio, and loves it (click here to read his comments).
© Steve Banks 2020