Hasu Patel, a disciple of sitar legend Ustad Vilayat Khan Saheb is one of the few distinguished female artists performing today Classical Music on sitar, the most popular string instrument of India. As a performer, composer, and a teacher, she has dedicated her life to preserving and propagating in its pristine purity the fascinating, highly evolved Classical Music of ancient India.
Born in the culturally rich city of Baroda, India, she began her musical studies in early childhood. Her father was her mentor who instilled the love and discipline needed to become a musician. At the age of 1″, she made her first public appearance. And after many years of rigorous training under her illustrious Gurus Prof. N.B. Kikani and Ustad Anwar Khan Saheb”, she became the first woman to receive a music degree with Gold medal in the 75 years history of the Faculty of Fine Arts Baroda”, India. She has received many awards” scholarships and fellowships including at the age of 21, the first prize winner in the State of Gujarat for the stringed instrument competition held by All India Radio.
Shortly thereafter, she emigrated to the United States, and has pursued music ceaselessly for over two decades. Hasu plays the sitar in a very special style known as ‘Gayaki Ang’ (Singing Style)”, where the sitar replicates fluidity and subtle nuances of the human voice which she learned from her Guru Ustad Vilayat Khan Saheb of Imdad Khani Gharana, whose innovative technique of Gayaki Ang is his most significant contribution to music inheritance.
She has performed the Classical Music of India known as ‘Raga Sangeet’ (scientific” precise, subtle and aesthetic system of melodic notes accompanied with rhythm of tremendous vitality on Tabla”, a pair of two drums) at various Performing Art Centers” Music Conferences, World/Jazz/Country music festivals such as Woodstock’s 30th anniversary and Chicago Jazz festival, universities, radio, television stations, churches, temples, and meditation centers around the country. She has conducted duets with Western Classical and Jazz musicians, many residences, workshops, lecture demonstrations in schools and colleges, and has offered her unique talent to terminally ill patients in hospitals as a music therapy. She has also performed as a musician in Indian Classical dance ensembles.
Hasu is affiliated with Ohio Arts Council (Ohio Artists on Tour 2003-2004), Greater Columbus Arts Council”, Mid-America Arts Alliance and International Alliance of Women in Music. Hasu teaches sitar, tabla, and vocal music to many area students at her Sursangam School of Music as well as credit hours course at Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College of Ohio.
Ferhan Najeeb Qureshi has been a student of tabla and traditional Pakistani/Indian music for many years.
He is a senior disciple of the tabla maestro Ustad Abdul Sattar Tari Khan. Ustad Tari Khan learned tabla from Miyan Shuakat Hussain Khan the most celebrated tabla nawaz (performer) in Pakistan’s musical history.
Prior to studying with Ustad Tari Khan Ferhan took his initial lessons in Hindustani music theory and practice with Surrinder Mann Singh (a senior disciple of the late Ustad Allah Rakha).
Ferhan studies the Punjab gharana of classical tabla which both of his teachers represent. Primarily performing the tabla lehara (tabla solo) Ferhan Qureshi has also accompanied numerous distinguished classical artists both in the United States and in Pakistan.
Ferhan has also had the honor of accompanying Ustad Ali Akbar Khan for many years during Khansahib’s vocal and instrumental classes at the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael (California).
Although his primary focus is classical and traditional music over the years Ferhan has also collaborated and/or performed with numerous organizations and artists in modern applications of the tabla including the Dhamaal Artist Collective (for which he is a founding member) The Lines Ballet Non-Stop Bhangra and Dj Cheb I Sabaah among others.
Dr. Jyotsna Srikanth started learning Carnatic music from her mother Smt. Rathna Srikantiah from the age of five. She then learned violin under Late Sri R.R Keshavamurthy the legendary seven stringed violinist. She gave her first performance at the age of nine. She is an all rounder who has given numerous Carnatic solo concerts jugalbandhi concerts jazz – fusion concerts apart from accompanying most of the stalwarts in Carnatic Music. Her violin playing has a nice blend of bhava [musical expression and emotion] & technique. She has been featured in all major festivals in India globally. She has received many awards & titles at National & International levels.
She is also an accomplished western classical violinist too. Jyotsna has played violin for nearly 2 commercial Indian films. She has composed music for teleserials dance ballets & albums.
She is a medical doctor a post graduate in Pathology. She is now into music completely & is presently based in London. Her workshops on Indian/Western violin techniques & Indian/Western Music – comparisons have been well received.
She has a fusion band of her own which performs contemporary Indian music. In her release with Times Music called Fusion Dreams she played violin in eight different styles.
Life (Earthnbeat, 2007)
Fusion Dreams (2008)
Insight (Fountain Music, 2008)
Carnatic Jazz (Swathi Sanskriti, 2011)
Chants for Children (Theme Musik, 2011)
Carnatic Lounge (Times Music, 2011)
Call of Bangalore (Riverboat, 2013)
The prolific Indian slide guitar maestro Debashish Bhattacharya loves to collaborate with other musicians. He has released exquisite solo albums as well as remarkable collaborations with jazz and world music artists. On this occasion, Debashish and his brother Subhasis (tabla) team up with two acclaimed jazz musicians, Norwegian saxophone player Anders Lønne Grønseth and innovative American guitar player Kenny Wessel.
The East West fusion works perfectly, especially when the two totally different guitar styles interact with each other. Debashish uses his habitual mesmerizing resophonic guitars while Kenny Wessel uses the electric guitar and the interplay is exquisite.
Anders Lønne Grønseth’s saxophone also blends well with the guitars and tabla, especially when he uses the softer form of playing the sax, when it feels more like a whisper.
The lineup includes Debashish Bhattacharya on chaturangui and National resophonic guitars; Anders Lønne Grønseth on tenor and soprano saxophones; Kenny Wessel on electric guitar; and Subhasis Bhattacharya on tabla and percussion.
Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, son of the legendary Ustad Alla Rakha, has built a reputation as one of the finest tabla players in Indian classical music.
Zakir Hussain was born March 9 March, 1951 in Mumbai, India. He began performing as a child prodigy at age 8. In constant demand as an accompanist, he has performed with most of India’s greatest musicians and dancers. While he has few equals as a traditional tabla player, he has also been an innovator, bridging the Hindustani and Carnatic traditions by performing with both North and South Indian masters and presenting percussion concerts both as a soloist and with other drummers.
In addition to his dedication to the Indian classical music tradition, Zakir has been a pioneer in introducing the tabla to wider audiences in the West through his collaborations with jazz and rock musicians, and with percussionists from Latin America, Africa and Europe. As a member of the East-West fusion group Shakti, he won critical acclaim for his virtuosity.
Zakir’s father, Alla Rakha passed away in February of 2000, but his legacy continues with the Masters of Percussion tours that feature Zakir and two of his brothers (Fazal and Taufiq Qureshi).
Zakir Hussain’s 1986 ECM album Making Music was a major statement in the world music arena, with Jan Garbarek, John McLaughlin and bansuri flute genius Hariprasad Chaurasia as contributors.
Zakir Hussain has composed and performed music for various films. He arranged the opening music for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Hussain has also played on several ECM albums with violinist L. Shankar: Who’s to Know, Song for Everyone, Nobody Told Me, M.R.C.S., and Pancha Nadai Pallavi.
He played with Tabla Beat Science whose high-volume clash of cultures incorporated an ever-shifting cast of percussionists and DJs around a core of Zakir, sarangi player Ustad Sultan Khan and bassist Bill Laswell. Zakir Hussain has also collaborated on music for ballet with Yo-Yo Ma.
In 2007, Zakir was chosen by the government of India to compose an anthem, “Jai Hind,” to celebrate India’s 60th year of independence.
Zakir has been the recipient of many awards and titles, including Padma Bhushan (2002); Padma Shri (1988); the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1991); the 1999 National Heritage Fellowship, this country’s highest honor for achievement in the traditional arts; and Grammy Awards for Best World Music Album for Planet Drum (1992) and Global Drum Project (2009) with Mickey Hart, Sikiru Adepoju and Giovanni Hidalgo.
Salar Nader, of Afghan origin, was born in 1981 in Hamburg, Germany and migrated to the United States at the age of three . It was in his early months of life when his mother and father noticed his passion for the tabla. No matter where Salar was, he had to bring along his personal tabla set that his father bought for him when he was 6 months old.
At the age of 7, Salar attended his first tabla class in Berkeley, California. The instructor of the class, Ustad Zakir Hussain, who is now Salar’s guru, is a world renowned master of the tabla.
Sooner than expected, Salar was making public appearances on nationwide television screens including; “Nowrooz” festival TV, Nima TV and Jaam-e-Jaam TV. One of his memorable appearances was with Ustad Mawaash (notable Afghan vocalist), when Salar was only 11 years old.
As time progressed Salar became more and more devoted to his tabla training and has since played internationally with renowned masters such as Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, world famous sarangi virtuoso Ustad Sultan Khan, Rob Wasserman, Pandit Chtresh Das and participated at the famous Monterey Music Festival at 18.
With a deep passion for Afghan classical music traditions but also Indian Kathak dance and music, he also enjoyed collaborating with the Dj Cheb i Sabbah and Fareed Haque Group, improvising on an Indian jazz fusion style of music.
He has performed with Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, Ustad Mawaash, Rahul Sharma, Ahmad Wali, Homayun Sakhi, Fareed Haque Group, Ustad Shujaat khan, Ustad Rashid khan, Kala Ramnath, Ghulam Ali Khan and Riffat Sultana. He has also performed with ensembles such as the Rumi Ensemble (Shahram Nazeri and Hafez Nazeri), Rumination (Farzin Farhadi, Cheb I Sabbah) and Niyaz.
Live In Osnabruck, with Tehran Symphony Orchestra and Hassan Riahi (Dreyer Gaido, 2007)
Sabir Khan, born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan (India), belongs to the Sikar gharana (school) of music that has introduced several influential figures to Indian classical music.
He is the ninth generation in his family to take up the sarangi and is considered to be one of the finest players of the younger generation. He began studying music when he was six years old with his grandfather, Ustad Gulab Khan, a renowned sarangi player and vocalist.
Soon afterwards, he began training with his father, the acclaimed sarangi player and vocalist Ustad Sultan Khan, and his late uncle Ustad Nasir Khan. With a technique displaying tonal, melodic and rhythmic prowess, he is proving a worthy successor to his proud lineage.
The Sultan of Sarangi, with Ustad Sultan Khan (Dreams Entertainment, 1988)
The Legacy, with Ustad Sultan Khan (Worldwide Records, 2011)
Anita Katakkar is a Canadian percussionist who specializes in tabla. Her ancestry is Indian and Scottish. She grew up listening to Indian music through her grandmother.
Anita studied tabla with Ritesh Das in Canada and later in India with Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri. She spent 10 years as a member of the Toronto Tabla Ensemble.
In 2009 Anita formed Rakkatak in Toronto. It started as a solo project with Anita on her tabla, a laptop, and a sequencer to create a decidedly personal mix of classical Indian music and electronica. Rakkatak became a band with the addition of bassist Oriana Barbato and sitarist Rex Van der Spuy. Rakkatak’s style changed, concentrating on a less electronic form of Indian fusion.
In addition to her Rakkatak work, Anita teaches tabla, collaborates with yoga instructors and frequently DJs for Yoga classes in Toronto-area studios. She created music to link breath to movement with her Yoga Trax project.
Rakkatak (2010) Open (2014)
Small Pieces (Rakkatak RA017, 2017)
As announced in these columns recently, Nadopasana, a Muscat (Oman) based voluntary organization devoted to Indian classical music, staged a double concert on Saturday, the 25th March 2017. It featured two young and promising stars of the Carnatic genre. The morning session was a vocal concert by Nandini Neelakantan, while the evening session featured the vocal recital of Vignesh Ishwar.
M S Ananthakrishnan accompanied both artistes on the violin. All three artistes flew in from India, while the percussion accompaniment was provided by local artistes. The ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) very generously sponsored the travel of the visiting artistes. The whole thing was made possible by the encouragement and enthusiasm of HE Mr. Indra Mani Pandey, the Ambassador of India to Oman.
Both Nandini and Vignesh are in their twenties. At the end of their concerts, I felt in the depths of my heart that Carnatic Music as a cultural treasure and tradition was safe for the next many centuries, if these two youngsters were to be seen as yardsticks. This was not a parade of memorized kritis and swaraprastharams, not a mere show of virtuosity and voice range, but a true reflection of commitment to an art form born out of choice, even of passion for the music. Both of them revealed an understanding of the nuances of music which belied their age.
GN Balasubramaniam, who is considered by most authorities as a watershed phenomenon in the world of Carnatic music, was 18 when he gave his first concert on stage. These youngsters are not much older, and yet were able to hold the audience at the Krishna Temple, Muscat, spellbound throughout their concert – be it heavy kritis or thukkadas. A scintillating Kalyani by Nandini, and a superlative Todi by Vignesh spoke the same message – a complete understanding of the raga Lakshana, and a manodharma in doing niraval and swarams that was nothing short of awesome.
Even in the selection of items for the evening, as well, both showed a maturity that was way beyond what many of us “senior” rasikas expected from such youngsters (see below for details). The pieces chosen were not populist keertanas aimed at pleasing the masses. Yet, impress they did: Nandini’s Theerada Vilayattu Pillai, the ultimate expression of a father’s love for his daughter written by Bharathiyar, the Tamil Maha Kavi, left many in the audience with a lump in their throats, such was her bhava.
The Bageshri piece Sagara sayana vibho would have had its composer, the legendary MD Ramanathan, clucking away contentedly from his divine abode for sure. Between her and Ananthakrishnan, they showed their mastery of the Sruti Bedham technique, by transcending briefly from Kalyani to Suddha Dahnayasi during the alapana – not an easy feat by any standards. Nandagopal, elder brother of Nandini and her first source of inspiration and introduction to music, was in his usual brilliant elements, something that the Muscat audience have come to expect of him. The applause after his thani laid to rest any questions about who was the darling of the local crowd!
Vignesh, for his part, made full use of his voice, showing flashes of brigas at breakneck speed, without in any way compromising melodic content. He also demonstrated his depth of understanding of the maestros. His concert was laced liberally with anecdotes about the composers and the great masters who had popularized the kritis he sang. He demonstrated how Madurai Mani Iyer or GNB would have handled the swaras for the ever-so-pleasing Kapi Narayani (sarasa sama dana) – after himself giving an excellent account of kalpana swaras. It prompted this reviewer to sit and listen to the kriti sung by various artistes after returning home, and realize how little I had observed of them in all these years! His humility in underscoring the contributions of the great stalwarts in Carnatic music reflected how and where he viewed himself in the broad sense of the Carnatic tradition – a sterling quality which he would do very well to nurture and adhere to. Vignesh’s elaborate Todi (Koluvamaragade by Sri Thyagaraja) was followed by a short tani by Srinivasan. Srinivasan’s style a mellow, soft and suave one rendered an able support through the concert.
Both Nandini and Vignesh exhibited another quality which is often overlooked as a success factor – the art of team work. Both of them ensured their accompanists were always in the limelight, by repeatedly showing appreciation for their efforts.
Not that Ananthakrishnan would have gone unnoticed otherwise. With his astute anticipation of the vocalist’s moves, and the ability to explore the higher octaves with the single finger technique, he showed how he has established himself as the scion of the Parur family of violinists. That he seamlessly shifted pitch from accompanying a female to a male voice within the space of a few hours, spoke volumes about his oneness with his instrument. Of especial note were his repartees to Nandini’s Jayanthasri (Marukelara) and Vignesh’s Poorvikalyani (Deva deva jagadeeswara).
Summing up the two concerts of the day, everyone agreed that this trend of multiple concerts could well see Muscat transforming itself into a Cleveland or a second Chennai – something that would be very welcome to the growing Carnatic music fan following in Oman! Nadopasana, an abecedarian just the other day, is indeed making great strides in its very first year.
Morning Concert: MJ Nandini (Vocal) – MS Ananthakrishnan (Violin) – N Nandagopal (Mridangam)