Tag Archives: sitar

‘Music can definitely pave the way to a peaceful, happy world’ – Sitar Artist Nikhil Patwardhan

 Nikhil Patwardhan has released six albums of Indian classical music – and is also an electrical engineer. He shares his unusual story in this interview, covering his musical journey, inner spiritual calling, and message to the audience.

Nikhil has played across India and overseas, in the US, UK, Dubai, Japan, Kenya and Zambia. Born to Shri Kumar Shrimangalmurti Patwardhan and Srimathi Madhura Kumar Patwardhan, Nikhil started his musical journey at the tender age of four. His grandmother, Srimathi Sarojinidevi Patwardhan and his grandfather, Shri Shrimangalmurti Patwardhan were also deeply into Hindustani classical music.

Nikhil’s projects include the musical trio, ‘When Wood Sings,’ based on instruments such as sitar, flute and tabla. I caught two recent performances in Bangalore by Nikhil, along with tabla players Partho Banerjee (at Lahe Lahe) and Shailesh Shenoy (at Jus’ Trufs).

Tell us about your musical background, and how your family influenced your choice of music as a career.

Although sitar and Indian classical music have been in my family for three generations, I really took to the sitar after hearing a concert recording of Pandit Nikhil Banerjee. To this day, my grandmother Mrs. Sarojinidevi Patwardhan, my parents and Pandit Nikhil Banerjee remain as the leading influences in my musical career. Inspiration is everywhere: even a bird singing in the morning can provide great music fuel to the soul.

I have a master’s in electrical engineering from Clemson University in the US and have worked for 12 years in semiconductors. I have been playing sitar and Indian classical music for over 30 years now.

At the age of eight, I gave my first public performance at Balgandharva, Pune. I became a Balodyaan AIR artiste at the age of nine. At the age of twelve, I won the prestigious Centre for Cultural Resources and Training scholarship from the government of India.

At the age of fifteen, I started receiving training from Pandit Parthapratim Chatterjee, who is an exponent of the Maihar Gharana from Kolkata and a disciple of Pandit Nikhil Banerjee and Ustad Ali Akbar Khansahib.

I am balancing both worlds, the world of a techie and the world of a musician!

 

Nikhil Patwardhan and Shailesh Shenoy – Photo by Madanmohan Rao

 

How does your composition process work – individually, or along with other musicians? Do you also compose while on the road?

It works through both ways – primarily through individual creation and then a lot of continuous listening and collaboration with other great musicians.

I very much compose on the road as well. In my day job, I have to drive for a couple of hours every day – so my car always turns into a music studio where I listen to and also record some compositions I think of.

Currently I am not into music full-time and doing both a day job and music. I feel that the day job and music complement each other extremely well.

What are the challenges you face as a musician and composer?

Like yoga, our music is intense, complete and with a lot of depth, as it has evolved through so many thousands of years. So it becomes difficult for the general public to understand and extract the goodness that this music has to offer. Hence, the challenge I face is to get more people interested in our oldest form of Indian classical music. However, over the years I am seeing a very positive comeback of people, especially the younger generation, wanting more of this pure and divine music.

What have been some audience reactions you get at your performances?

I feel I am really blessed to have some amazing and appreciative audiences across India and all over the globe. My biggest highlights have been when people from the audience have come up to me after the concert in tears, and told me that the music really went to their hearts and they did not want me to stop playing.

Do you also teach workshops for students/musicians?

Yes, I have several students. I have taught workshops both overseas and in India. I make it a point to give a short lecture demonstration before every concert so people can understand what they should listen to in this music.

How has the music industry changed over the years in terms of tech trends, and how has it affected you?

The virtual and real worlds have been swapped. We all live in the virtual world and the real world is only to meet our physical needs. I think this is an incredible evolution as this allows someone sitting with an online connection in the remotest corner of the world to listen to Indian classical music. Sound technology has also helped immensely in bringing out the finest and subtlest of the sounds of the sitar.

 


Nikhil Patwardhan and Partho Banerjee – Photo by Madanmohan Rao

 

How would you describe your musical journey so far?

It has been a fantastic journey so far and every second of it has taught me to respect my music and reap the joy out of it. Juggling between two lives (techie and musician) definitely is very difficult to manage but music to me is the very oasis that powers my life. I think a music-centric life is very rich, and it not only gives happiness to you but also brings so many people together.

I think my albums show the degree of growth and maturity in my music over the years. I have slowly learned how to explore the depth of a raaga and the rhythm and not only the breadth. I think learning is a continuous process and all you have to see is if you as a whole are growing with respect to your own past.

Where do you see yourself 10 or 15 years from today? What are some ‘dream projects’ or visions you are working towards?

I see myself as a performer and a teacher in the next 15 years or so. In today’s life where everything is supposed to happen in the blink of an eye, Indian classical music can always bring peace and harmony to our mind and bodies and slow us down. One of my dream projects is to work on a music therapy album which I would consider my ‘magnum opus.’

 

 

What are your thoughts on the rise of ‘fusion’ music, and how to bring about ‘fusion without confusion?’

I think it is a great idea to blend different genres so that people who like both genres can enjoy both aspects of the music. Fusion is an excellent way to bring the musically uninitiated to start liking music.

However, it should not sound like ‘con’-fusion. A good musician always knows when and where to put the right notes in the listener’s ear, just like a good cook knows how to put the right ingredients in the right dish. However, I think if one stays true to oneself, only then will the real colour of his or her music come out, so trying to imitate without understanding the depth of the music will lead to a dilution of both genres of music.

What is your vision of what music can bring to our troubled world?

My vision is to use this music to bring peace all over the globe just as the yoga movement is trying to bring good health to all. All this turmoil for power is totally unnecessary and music can definitely pave the way to a peaceful, happy world.

What advice do you have for aspiring musicians out there?

Stay true to yourself. If you like rock, play and perform rock, if you like jazz, play and perform jazz. Feel each note, feel each vibration. Each one of us has a beautiful and unique way of expressing ourselves, if it comes straight from the heart. I also advise aspiring musicians to get a good education that will give a means of livelihood and also do music. This will prevent them from compromising with their music and stay true to their music.

As a Chinese proverb goes, ‘If you have two coins, with one coin buy food to eat and with the other coin buy a rose.’ The food will give you life and the rose will give you a purpose to live that life.

 

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Sitar Maestro Nishat Khan to Perform in New York City

Nishat Khan – Photo by Bharat Tiwari

Ustad Nishat Khan, one of India’s finest sitar players, is set to perform on Sunday, October 8, 2017 at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City. He will be joined by Nitin Mitta on tabla.

Nishat is the son and disciple of Ustad Imrat Khan, and nephew of the late Ustad Vilayat Khan and a member of one of the oldest and most prestigious musical families and schools in India – the Imdadkani Ganara of Etawah.

Nishat has mastered not only the North Indian classical form, but has also worked with music as diverse as Gregorian chant, Western classical music, jazz and flamenco. He has collaborated with some of the world’s leading performers and composers such as Philip Glass, John McLaughlin, Paco Peña and Evelyn Glennie. Nishat Khan’s discography includes Meeting of Angels, Heart of Fire, Rag Bhimpalasi / Rag Tilak Kamod, and Raga Miyan Ki Malhar / Raga Dhanasri.

Nitin Mitta is one of the most sought after tabla players in the music world and has quickly established a reputation as an artist with technical virtuosity. He is an acclaimed accompanist who has performed with some of India’s most celebrated musicians including Pandit Jasraj, Pandits Rajan and Sajan Mishra, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Ustad Nishat Khan, Ustad Shahid Parvez and Pandit Nayan Ghosh.

Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center
129 West 67 Street, New York, New York 10023
Box office: (212) 501-3330
Tickets at www.worldmusicinstitute.org

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Acclaimed Sitarist Roopa Panesar to Perform Today in New Jersey

Roopa Panesar

Roopa Panesar, one of the rising sitar players in the classical Indian music world is set to perform Saturday September 16, 2017 at Sharp Theater in New Jersey. Her lineup for this concert includes Pirashanna Thevaraiah on percussion and Nitin Mitta on tabla.

Sharp Theater
505 Ramapo Valley Road – Mahwah, NJ 07430
Phone: (201) 684-7844

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Artist profiles: Hasu Patel

Hasu Patel

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.

Discography:

Gayaki Sitar (1997)

website: www.hasupatel.com

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Artist Profiles: Anupama Bhagwat

Anupama Bhagwat

Sitar player Anupama Bhagwat is one of the leading sitar disciples of the world-renowned Pandit Shri Bimalendu Mukherjee. Her sensitivity and erudition has taken her to the highest echelons of the modern genre, while remaining true to tradition. She has imbibed the vigor that is a hallmark of her Gharana: scintillating fast taans, mastery of the meditative alaap and brilliant fluency of melody (raag bhava), all the while maintaining her technical virtuosity.

Anupama was born in 1974 in a musically inclined family in Bhilai, India. She began her musical training in Bhilai with Shri R. N. Verma at the age of nine, having received her uncle’s sitar as a gift. At the age of thirteen, she commenced her tutelage with Pandit Shri Bimalendu Mukherjee, a doyen of the famous Imdadkhani Gharana. Under her Guruji’s guidance, Anupama acquired the finesse and technical nuances of the Gayaki style, while bringing out its lyrical beauty with the emotive cadences of the sitar. During this time, Anupama was conferred the title Surmani, by Sur Sringar Sansad, Bombay (1995); she won First Position in the All India Radio Music Competition (1994), as well as a HRD Scholarship from the Government of India (1993-1996).

Now as an established artist, besides her concert appearances worldwide, Anupama conducts sitar workshops and lecture-demonstrations.

Anupama obtained her Masters in music from Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwavidyalaya (Khairagarh), India.

Discography:

Confluence (Felmay Records, 2009)

Website /www.anupamabhagwat.com

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Artist Profiles: Krishna Bhatt

Krishna Bhatt

Pandit Krishna Bhatt was born into a family of musicians, poets and Sanskrit scholars who for five generations upheld their tradition in Rajasthan. Krishna was introduced to the musical traditions of Senia school by his father, who was a distinguished sitarist of his time, the late Pt. Shashi Mohan Bhatt.

In his teens, Krishna’s musical grooming was further enhanced by many years of study under the tutelage of his Guru Pt. Ravi Shankar, and legendary musicians Pt. Nikhil Banerjee and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, who had a strong impact on Krishna’s musical growth.

While developing his own individual style, Krishna’s music was greatly influenced by twentieth century stalwarts such as the vocalists Amir Khan, Bade Gulam Ali Khan, Abdul Karim Khan, Begum Akhtar, Shobha Gurtu as well as renowned folk singers of Rajasthan. Krishna’s repertoire in performance includes a wide variety of rare and old traditional compositions from these masters of music.

Krishna Bhatt has performed in major festivals on three continents. In India, his concerts include appearances in the prestigious Saptak Music Festival in Ahmedabad, Haridas Sangeet Sammelan in Bombay and the Desert Festival in Jaiselmer. His performances in Europe include concerts in Berlin, London, Paris, Brussels, Luxembourg, and appearances at the Venice Bienale, Lugano Music Festival, Zurich’s Reitberg Museum, Guitarra International in Cordoba, [wiki:Spain] and I Suoni Del Tempo in Cesena, Italy.

In the United States, his performances include concerts at the Herbst Theater and the Great American Music Hall, San Francisco; Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York.

Partial Discography:

Bouquet of Sentiments (Gurukul Music)

Raga Chandni Kedar / Raga Kafi (Playasound, 1994)

No Man’s Land, with Terry Riley (Plainisphare, 1996)

Kirwani: Essence of a Raag (Amiata, 1997)

Dancing in the Light of the Full Moon (Amiata, 1998)

Wonder & Desire

Rasa, with Jody Stecher (Rooster Records, 1981)

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Artist Profiles: Abhik Mukherjee

Abhik Mukherjee
Abhik Mukherjee

Abhik Mukherjee, born in Kolkata, is a sitar player of the Etawah-Imdadkhani gharana (school). He started his sitar training at the age of six by his father, Sri Tarit Mukherjee, and Sri Bimal Chatterjee, while at the same time receiving vocal instruction from Sri Kaylan Bose. He has since received training from Pandit Arvind Parikh and Pandit Kashinath Mukherjee, themselves disciples of the renowned Ustad Vilayat Khan.

Abhik Mukherjee is a gold medalist in musicology from Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, and has also received a scholarship from the Ministry of Culture, India.

Abhik’s first public concert was at the age of 9 at the Governor’s House, Kolkata. Since then, he has performed in ten countries on four continents.
Abhik currently lives in New York City and is a founding member of Brooklyn Raga Massive, an Indian classical music artists’ collective.

Discography:

Waves of Emotion
Brooklyn Raga Massive Compilation Vol 1
Liberation

Website: abhikmukherjee.com

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Indian Maestros Zakir Hussain and Niladri Kumar at Duke Performances October 8

Zakir Hussain
Zakir Hussain

Indian classical music masters Zakir Hussain and Niladri Kumar are set to perform at Duke University’s Page Auditorium on Saturday, October 8th.

Zakir Hussain is one of the great maestros of the Indian tabla. He’s an acclaimed performer of indian classical music and world music fusion as well. He will play with prestigious sitar player Niladri Kumar, an eclectic musician who performs classical Indian music as well as pop, rock, and electronic music.

for more details go to: dukeperformances.duke.edu

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Elegant Intimacy and Brilliance

Ravi Shankar – Ravi Shankar In Hollywood (East Meets West Music, 2016)

Like doling out single pieces of candy to a greedy child, the world music community is treated to another precious goody from the audio archives amassed over the years by the revered Ravi Shankar. On tap this year is the double CD set Ravi Shankar In Hollywood, set to hit the music marketplace on September 30th on the East Meets West Music label, although pre-orders are available.

I imagine since his death in December of 2012, there’s been a bum’s rush to sift through the collection of recorded music by the famed sitarist to scrounge out all the recordings that were passed over for release. It was bound to happen.

Shankar fans have reaped the rewards with box sets like Ravi Shankar: 6 Classic Albums Box Set (2013), Music of India Box Set (2013) and Genesis of a Genius – Excerpts from Seven Classic Albums double CD set (2015).

The East Meets West Music label has released its own collected tracks on Living Room Sessions Part 2 (2013) with Tanmoy Bose, Kenji Ota and Barry Phillips, Nine Decades – Vol. 4 – A Night at St. John the Divine (2014) and Ravi & Anoushka Shankar Live in Bangalore (2015) in the form of a two CD set and DVD. With so many releases it’s like the master never left.

Ravi Shankar - Ravi Shankar In Hollywood (East Meets West Music, 2016)
Ravi Shankar – Ravi Shankar In Hollywood (East Meets West Music, 2016)

Ravi Shankar in Hollywood stands out from some of the other releases in that it was recorded in 1972 in Mr. Shankar’s home on Highland Avenue as a private concert for invited guests. It was a rare morning concert with the likes of George Harrison in attendance. It was also the impetus for the Concert for Bangladesh intended to benefit those suffering in the wake of Cyclone Bhola in East Pakistan, those areas that would become Bangladesh. The recording of Ravi Shankar in Hollywood is precious indeed, not only for the concern Mr. Shankar expressed for those suffering to just the right ears of those with the means to do something, but also the elegant intimacy and brilliance of the recording.

Joined by tabla player Alla Rakha and tanpura player Kamala Chakravarty, Ravi Shankar in Hollywood leads listeners through the elegant lines and rippling waves of unfolding ragas “Hollywood Raga Vibhas” and the almost hour long “Hollywood Raga Parameshwari” on disc one.

Disc two offers up two more equally hypnotic tracks by way of “Hollywood Dhun” and “Hollywood Raga Sindhi Bhairavi.” The music of Ravi Shankar in Hollywood is indelibly gloriously Ravi Shankar.

Sukanva Shankar, Mr. Shankar’s widow offers her comments for the liner notes and best sums up the influence of her late husband’s music, “What is core to the raga is its Prana or life and its power to be heard and to be propagated, to instill its emotional message in the heart of as many musicians and listeners as possible. Time will tell the validity of a new raga creation, by its acceptance, popularity and longevity. No matter how beautiful the raga, if you are only one who can perform it, it is not considered to of any consequence. Raviji’s ragas can be found in many artist repertoires – that tells you the intensity and emotional effect of his music and his creations.”

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