Tag Archives: India

Artist Profiles: Ali Akbar Khan

Ali Akbar Khan

Maestro Ali Akbar Khan was a master of the sarod and founder and teacher at the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, California.

Born in 1922 in East Bengal (now Bangladesh), his family traced their gharana (ancestral tradition) to Mian Tansen, the 16th century musical marvel and court musician to Emperor Akbar. Ali Akbar Khan’s father, the late Padma Vibhusan Acharya Dr. Allauddin Khan, was acknowledged as a leading figure in North Indian music in the 20th century.

Ali Akbar Khan, also known as Khansahib, began his studies in music at the age of three. He studied vocal music from his father and drums from his uncle, Fakir Aftabuddin. His father also trained him on several other instruments, but decided finally that had to concentrate on the sarod and on vocal.

For over twenty years, he trained and practiced 18 hours a day. After that, his father continued to teach Khansahib until he was over 100 years old, and left behind such a wealth of material that Khansahib feels he is still learning new things from it. Since his father’s death in 1972, Khansahib has continued his father’s tradition, that of the Sri Baba Allauddin Seni Gharana of Maihar and Rampur, India.

Ali Akbar Khan gave his first public performance in Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad) at age thirteen. In his early twenties, he made his first recording in Lucknow for the HMV label, and the following year, he became the court musician to the Maharaja of Jodhpur. He worked there for seven years until the Maharaja’s death. The state of Jodhpur bestowed upon him his first title, that of Ustad, or Master Musician. Many years later, he received the title of Hathi Saropao and Dowari Tajeem at the Jodhpur Palace’s Golden Jubilee Celebraton in 1993.

At the request of Yehudi Menuhin, Ali Akbar Khan first visited the United States in 1955. He made the first Western LP recording of Indian classical music, and the first television performance of Indian music, on Allistair Cooke’s Omnibus, sowing the seed for the wave of popularity of Indian music in the 1960’s.

Khansahib founded the Ali Akbar College of Music in Calcutta, India, in 1956. Later, recognizing the extraordinary interest and abilities of his Western students, he began teaching in the United States in 1965. In 1967, he founded the Ali Akbar College of Music, which moved to Marin County, California, the following year.

Khansahib also opened a branch of his college in Basel, Switzerland, run by his disciple Ken Zuckerman, where he taught yearly during his world tours. Ali Akbar Khan toured extensively in Asia, Europe, The Netherlands, Australia, Canada, and the United States.

Khansahib composed and recorded music for films throughout his career. He composed extensively in India beginning with “Aandhiyan” by Chetan Anand (1953) and went on to create music for “House Holder” by Ivory/Merchant (their first film), “Khudita Pashan” (or “Hungry Stone”) for which he won the “Best Musician of the Year” award, “Devi” by Satyajit Ray, and, in America, “Little Buddha” by Bernardo Bertolucci.

1997 was a landmark year for Ali Akbar Khan. In February, he was the second recipient to receive the Asian Paints Shiromani Award – Hall of Fame, following filmmaker Satyajit Ray. He celebrated his 75th birthday in April and AACM’s 30th anniversary in June. In August, the Indian Embassy requested Khansahib to perform at the United Nations in New York and at Kennedy Center in Washington DCboth performances were in celebration of the 50th year of India’s Independence. In September, Ali Akbar Khan was chosen to receive the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. It was presented by Mrs. Hillary Clinton at a ceremony in the White House.

In 1998, Maestro Khan was honored with the National Heritage Fellowship, presented to him at the White House.

He had eight sons and four daughters from three marriages. Six of his children and one grandson became musicians: Aashish Khan Debsharma (sarod), Dhyanesh Khan (1941–1990; sarod), Ameena Perrera (sitar), Pranesh Khan (tabla), Rajesh Khan (sarod), Alam Khan (sarod), Manik Khan (sarod); and his grandson, Shiraz Ali Khan (sarod).

Ali Akbar Khan died on June 18, 2009.

Partial discography:

Ali Akbar Khan releases numerous recordings. The list below includes a small selection of recordings currently available.

Traditional Music of India (Prestige)
Legacy: 16th-18th Century Music from India, with Asha Bosle (Ammp Records)
Emperor of Melody
Ragas (Fantasy Records)
Signature Series, Vol. 1 (Ammp Records)
Signature Series, Vol. 2 (Ammp Records)
Signature Series, Vol. 3 (Ammp Records)
Signature Series, Vol. 4 (Ammp Records)
Alap – a Sarod Solo (Ammp Records)
Signature Series, Vol. 5: Rag Darbari Kanada (Ammp Records)
Rough Guide To Ali Akbar Khan (World Music Network)
Morning Visions (Ammp Records)
Ustad Ali Akbar Khan – Sarod (Saregama)
Garden of Dreams (Triloka)

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Artist Profiles: V.G. Jog

V.G. Jog

Vishnu Gobind Jog (V.G. Jog) was a venerated elder statesman of the North Indian violin. A highly respected musician and educator, he toured throughout the world as a soloist and with many of India’s great instrumentalists. His distinctive style won him a special place among India’s great musicians, and his soulful music was praised by Westerners such as John Coltrane and Eric Clapton.

Born in Maharashtra in 1922, he studied with Sri Shankar Rao Athavela, Ganapat Rao Purohit, and Allauddin Khan.

Since 1999, Pandit Jog had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease. The disease had not only disabled the elderly musician by taking away the violin away from his hands, but was also taking away all his assets. Without music, his sole source of income, the high cost of health care became an unsustainable burden for the Jog family. Additionally, the unexpected death of his son added a misfortune to the indisposed violinist and his family. Various benefit concerts were held to provide him and his family with urgently needed financial aid.

Along with the Padma Bhushan, Jog also received the Sangeet Natak Akademi award, West Bengal government’s Rajya Natak award, the Kalidas Samman, the Bhuwalka Puraskar and the Hafiz Ali Khan award.

Jog had a long involvement with the All India Radio’s Kolkata center as music composer and producer, as well as being member of the AIR’s audition board.

V.G. Jog died on January 31, 2004.

Discography:

Bismillah Khan With V. G. Jog (His Master’s Voice, 1962)
Raga Kedara / Raga Chandrakauns (Odeon 1963)
Duets (His Master’s Voice, 1965)
Manik Varma ((His Master’s Voice, 1965)
Shenai & Violin (His Master’s Voice, 1968)
Shyam Kalyan / Raga Des / Dhun (His Master’s Voice, 1970)
Violin & Shehnai – Jugalbandi (His Master’s Voice, 1977)
The Distinctive Two, Violin & Flute Jugalbandi (His Master’s Voice, 1978)
Violin Recital (His Master’s Voice, 1982)
Ragas: Jogkaus Khamaj (Chhanda Dhara, 1983)
Jugalbandi Harmonium And Violin (His Master’s Voice, 1985)
Jugalbandi – Duet For Violin And Guitar – Raga Bageswari (Chhanda Dhara, 1988)
Violin (Moment Records, 1991)
Monsoon Raga Nataraj Music, 1993
Waves Of Ecstasy Vol. 2 (All India Radio, 1995)
Waves Of Ecstasy Vol. 3 (All India Radio, 1995)
Indian Classical Duets Vol 1 (ITC Limited, 2009)

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Artist Profiles: Habib Khan

Habib Khan – Photo by Ujjwal Kumar

Pandit Habib Khan is regarded as one of the best sitar players in the world today. He was born into a family of musicians and can trace his lineage back several generations to when classical music enjoyed the patronage of the nobility and royalty of India.

He began his training at the tender age of five under the strict eye of his accomplished father, Hameed Jaffar Khan. The Jaffar Khan family was from Indore and were well known for their unique style of playing the sitar, melding the effect of the human voice and the instrumental tone into a harmonious whole.

Habib Khan has carved out a distinct style of his own which is a blend of his father’s traditional techniques and his own imaginative innovations. He is as much at ease with light classical and religious music as he is with pure classical renderings of ragas.

Habib Khan lives and teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area and performs all over the world. He has composed music for several CDs including Fire Dance (With Pat Martino, Zakir Hussain, Peter Block, and Ilya Rayzman), Longing on X DOT 25 Music and music for a yoga video series by Vasanti Bhat.

Discography:

FireDance (Mythos Records, 1997)
Ecstasy (RPG Music, 1998)
Longing (X DOT 25, 2000)

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Artist Profiles: V.K. Raman

V.K. Raman

V.K. Raman, one of the leading flutists in the Carnatic style of Music, started learning flute at the age of 9. At the age of 15, he started giving full-fledged concerts. Since then Raman has performed in many prestigious organizations in India and abroad. Raman has had the privilege of performing flute duets along with his Guru, the great flute maestro Dr. N. Ramani on several occasions.

Enchanting and transcendent music flows from Raman’s flute as he has mastered superb blowing and fingering technique by which the tonal quality is at its peak. He plays the krithis in Gayaki (Vocal) style, combining it with the unique mind-boggling possibilities of his instrument. He has also performed Jugalbandhi, Fusion Concerts and has been very
successful as a Music Composer. He is a Grade I composer of All India Radio and Doordarshan. He has scored music for many Audio / Video Albums,CD’s and Dance/Theatre productions in India and abroad.

‘Surmani’ Raman , an ‘A’ Grade artiste of All India Radio has captivated the audiences in a number of India’s major music
festivals and toured widely in USA, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sri Lanka and Japan.

Discography

Raman has released more than 50 albums,.

Mohana Rama
Swara Raga Sudha
Magic Bamboo
Divine Melodies
Sur Milan (Sagar Music, with Dr. Suma Sudhindra on the Veena)
Sur Sangam (Sagar Music, with Nanda Kishore Muley on Santoor)
Classical Indian Flute (Inner Splendor Media, 2007)
Classical Indian Flute & Violin With Virtuoso Brothers V.K. Raman and Mysore V. Srikanth (Inner Splendor Media, 2008)
Classical Indian Flute and Violin Vol. II With Virtuoso Brothers V.K. Raman and Mysore V. Srikanth (Inner Splendor Media, 2008)
Confluence (Felmay, 2009)
Navarasa – Eternal Emotions

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Artist Profiles: Saraswathi Ranganathan

Saraswathi Ranganathan

Indian American musician Saraswathi “Sara” Ranganathan is an Indian Classical veena performer and cross-cultural musical ambassador. She was born in Mysore and grew up in a musical family. Ranganathan learned veena from her mother Shantha Ranganathan and from Karnataka Kalashree EP Alamelu in Bengaluru (Bangalore). She has been performing and teaching for over three decades.

Saraswathi Ranganathan won the ‘Best Asian Entertainer’ award at the 37th Chicago Music Awards in 2018.

She is passionate about presenting the veena to a diverse audience through concerts at world music festivals, collaborations with artists from different genres, creative workshops at schools, lecture-demonstrations at universities for world music courses, educational performances at museums and other distinguished places of public interest, demos at libraries.

Ranganathan was the first Carnatic veena artist designated to perform in an off-Broadway play, “Jungle Book,” directed by Mary Zimmerman and supported in part by Disney Theatrical Productions.

Saraswathi Ranganathan holds a master’s degree in Sanskrit and an MBA from Loyola University of Chicago. She directs her non-profit music school, Ensemble of Ragas, in Schaumburg, a Chicago suburb, teaching Carnatic classical vocal and veena.

Discography:

The Magic of Veena, Vol. 2 (Ensemble of Ragas, 2011)
Refreshing Raga Blues (2015)

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Artist Profiles: Vasumathi Badrinathan

Vasumathi Badrinathan

Vasumathi Badrinathan comes from a family with an intense musical background. She is an accomplished vocalist of Carnatic music, the classical style of music from Southern India. She was initiated into this art at a very young age by her mother, the late Smt. Padma Seshadri, who was a talented singer. Subsequently, Vasumathi learned music from Smt. T. R. Balamani, the reputed music guru.

Vasumathi has imbibed in her style the fine tradition passed on by her mother – disciple of the late Yageneswara Bhagavathar and Smt. Balamani – disciple of the legendary late Musiri Subramanya Iyer and Sri. T. K. Govinda Rao. Vasumathi enjoys a rich traditional paathanthara by virtue of her training. Her distinct undiluted classical style reveals itself in her rendition of Kritis, raga contours and niraval passages. Endowed with a rich bass voice, Vasumathi uses it to explore the profound melodies of Carnatic music.

Vasumathi has been performing widely within and outside India for several years and has toured extensively in Europe and Asia Pacific countries. Apart from her concerts, her skill in presenting lecture-demonstrations and workshops has been well appreciated. Vasumathi is a recipient of the Junior Fellowship for music from the Ministry of Human Resources and Development, Government of India, awarded to outstanding young artistes. Vasumathi is the recipient of the title “Sur Mani” for her proficiency in music by the Sur Singar Samsad, Mumbai. Her music is often broadcast over the All India Radio, one of India’s strongest upholders of classical music.

Vasumathi has released four CDs: Tamil Padams and Nayika portray the love songs of Tamil Naidu and Andra Pradesh, rarely performed and at risk of disappearing. Tamil Marai Isai contains the most beautiful verses of musical poetry by the Alwars -saints-philosophers-poets- of Tamil Naidu during the 8th to 13th centuries. Swara Dhwani presents songs that are typical of Carnatic music.

Besides music, Vasumathi is also an able dancer of Bharata Natyam, a classical dance style of South India. She has been groomed in this art by one of India’s s most revered and celebrated masters in the field – Kalaimamani Guru T.K. Mahalingam Pillai, of Sri Rajarajeswari Bharata Natya Kala Mandir, Mumbai. Vasumathi represents in her style of dancing, the pristine beauty of the Tanjavur school of Bharata Natyam. Vasumathi has many performances and choreographic efforts to her credit. For her proficiency in dance, the Sur Singar Samsad, Mumbai awarded Vasumathi the title of “Singar Mani” given to young dancers.

As an artist, Vasumathi derives joy as a performer of both music and dance. Her intense involvement in both these streams gives her an added advantage and helps her present her art with more feeling, awareness and aesthetic appeal. Vasumathi’s grip over music nourishes her dance endeavors and her dancer’s intuition invests her singing with feeling and sensitivity.

She directs the Sivubadra Institute of Indian Art and culture that she founded to propagate the Indian arts.

Vasumathi lives and works in Mumbai in India.

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Artist Profiles: Veena Sahasrabuddhe

Veena Sahasrabuddhe
Veena Sahasrabuddhe was born on September 14, 1948 in Kanpur, India. She came from from a family of musicians. Her father, Pundit Shankar Shripad Bodas, was a disciple of Pundit Vishnu Digambar Palsukar. Young Veena started her musical education with Kathak dance. She was initiated into Khayal singing by her father and her brother, late Pundit Kashinath Shankar Bodas. Padmashri Balwantrai Bhatt, late Pundit Vasant Thakar and late Pundit Gajananbua Joshi also contributed to her education.

The style she created for herself retained the fundamental values of Gwalior Gharana while borrowing somewhat from Kirana and Jaipur gharanas. The vidwans lauded the authenticity of her music while most listeners were moved by its directness and intensity.

Apart from Khayal, she was sought after for her rich repertoire of bhajans.

She sang at all the prestigious venues and occasions including Tansen Samaroh in Gwalior and Sawai Gandharva in Pune. At the Vokalfestival in Stockholm and at the Voices of the World festival in Copenhagen she represented Indian Classical Voice. She recorded under many leading labels. She was awarded the Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for the year 1993.

Besides being a popular performer, she was also a composer and a teacher. Her compositions adorned many of her recordings. She taught voice at institutions as well as privately.

In 2005 Abaton Book Company released One Thousand Minds (ABC#Ol2). It is a special edition numbered release with a 20-page booklet and folded bilingual lyric sheet, enclosed in 5″ audio-reel box. This special edition was limited to 1000 numbered copies and included a 20-page photo journal of Veena Sahasrabuddhe’s musical history and a lyric sheet in Devanagari with English translations and phonetic spellings.

Veena Sahasrabuddhe died on June 29, 2016 in Pune, India.

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Artist Profiles: Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam

Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam

Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam Born in a family with a rich musical heritage, Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam started her training in Carnatic Music at the age of five. Her keen sense in grasping musical nuances was evident from a young age. A captivating, melodious and rich voice, good control on rhythm, diction and bhava have earned her noteworthy attention in the music field.

Appearing in her first concert at the age of twelve, Vijayalakshmy has an impressive record of performance with several concerts in India and abroad. Vijayalakshmy was invited by the KI Tropentheater, Amsterdam, for a series of programs in Belgium and Holland in Jan 2005. Vijayalakshmy was invited to present a paper on Music Communication, Raga and Tala, a bridge across- at the Sims 2004, Melbourne, Australia in July 2004. She also conducted a workshop for the students of the Victoria Academy, Wellington, New Zealand in July 2004. Vijayalakshmy presented a concert and a workshop on Carnatic music at the World Vocal Music Festival, Tampere, Finland, 2003.

She has performed widely in Delhi, Nagpur, Chennai, other cities of Tamilnadu, Andhra, Kaanataka and Kerala. In Chennai, she has given concerts for all the well-known Music institutions. She has participated in lecdems organized by music institutions in Chennai as also by the Tyagaraja Aradhana Festival Committee in Tirupati. She has participated in the Swati Tirunal Sangeetotsavam organized by the Kerala Sangeet Natak Academy in 2002. In addition she has given concerts in Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Switzerland. She participated in the Asia Pacific Music Festival in New Zealand in 1992. She has conducted workshops in Carnatic Music in New Zealand, Germany and Switzerland.

With her extensive repertoire, Vijayalakshmy has presented exclusive concerts of composers like Thyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Syama Sastri, Swati Tirunal, Purandara Dasa, Annamacharya, Bhadrachala Ramadas, Koteeswara Iyer, Oothukadu Venkata Subbier, Arunagirinathar Tiruppugazh and Jayadeva Ashtapadis.

Vijayalakshmy is an ‘A’ grade artiste with the All India Radio. She has performed in the prestigious Akashvani Sangeet Sammelan Concerts and sings regularly over the Chennai Station of All India Radio.

After an illustrious career with All India Radio Chennai as a Programing Executive, Vijayalakshmy worked as Program Director (South) till March 2002, with the FM division of Sa Re Ga Ma India Limited, at Chennai.

Discography:

Apoorva Kriti Manjari
Kritis of Annamayya (Charsur Digital Workstation)
Raga Series – Todi (Charsur Digital Workstation)
Kshetra Sringeri (Charsur Digital Workstation)
Muruga Muruga (Rajalakshmi Audio)
Madrasil Margazhi (Rajalakshmi Audio)
Sarvanandham (Rajalakshmi Audio)
Shaktam-Shakti (Disques dom, 2004)
Nada Sukham (Saregama, 2009)

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Artist Profiles: Vikku Vinayakram

Vikku Vinayakram

Vikku Vinayakram, one of India’s finest ghatam (a large clay pot percussion instrument) players, studied with his father, Harihara Sharma. He is in great demand in India and has accompanied nearly all the leading South Indian musicians and vocalists like Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, MS Subbulakshmi, Balamurali Krishna, Bhimsen Joshi, Hariprasad Chaurasia and VG Jog.

Vinayakram became known in the West as a member of the group Shakti, an innovative acoustic jazz/Indian fusion band with guitarist John McLaughlin, violinist L. Shankar, and Zakir Hussain on tabla. He has also played under the direction of Zubin Mehta and shared the stage with internationally acclaimed musicians like Herbie Hancock, Peter Gabriel and Larry Corryell.

In 1991 he participated in the recording of Planet Drum as a music composer and co-producer together with The Grateful Dead’s drummer, Mickey Hart. The album featured other world class percussionists like Zakir Hussain and Airto Moreira. Planet Drum won the Grammy for Best World Music Album in 1991.

The extraordinary speed and precision of his duets with tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain and mrdangam player Ramnad V. Raghavan have captivated listeners throughout the world. Vikku devotes much of his time to teaching at his own ghatam school in Madras. In addition to touring with Shankar and Zakir Hussain and accompanying other musicians, he has performed with J.G. Laya in an experimental group that includes pianists and other percussionists.

Recently Vinayakram was featured in a percussion show called Drums of India, along with Zakir Hussain, sarangi maestro Ustad Sultan Khan, drummers Sivamani and Taufiq Qureshi and enchanted the audience with his dazzling performance.

Vinayakram has won numerous prestigious awards in India. He has many recordings to his credit and is also the author of several books on percussion in Tamil and English. Vinayakram forged and led the group “The Mahaperiyava,” an ensemble of young, talented artists from Chennai.

Discography:

A Handful of Beauty, with Shakti (1976)
Natural Elements (1977)
Planet Drum (1991)
Mysterium Tremendum (2012)

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Artist Profiles: Vivek V Krishna

Vivek V Krishna, a talented flutist was initiated into this art form of carnatic music at the age of 12 years. He acquired basic lessons and flute technique from Sri Vijay and Vidwan H.S. Venugopal. His innate desire to acquire deep insight over this music was nurtured and took shape under the scholarly guidance of rasika kala ratna Neyveli R. Santhanagopalan where in he under went a vigorous training in the traditional gurukulam style. This may be considered as the golden period in the life of vivek where he not only learnt the nuances of music but every aspects of life.

Vivek began to bloom as an artiste and rendered his first performance in the year 1998. There on he never looked back. Unstinting support from his parents and vigorous training from his gurus has taken him way ahead in this art form.

He has been exceptionally gifted with wonderful blowing and bhava and he has acquired different fingering techniques and produces different tonal quality in flute using different lengths of flutes to produce base and shrill sounds and he also has an delightfully appealing personality both on and off the stage which has been commended by connoisseurs and critics.

He has been performing in almost all the major festivals, organizations and sabhas all over India he has bagged enormous prizes in recognition of excellence of performance. he has extensively traveled all over united states of America. In recognition of his talent he has been awarded “Venu Gana Praveena” from Savitri Arts Academy (California).

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