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New York to host 24-hour long Indian Ragas Live Festival

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New York: A unique 24-hour Indian classical music marathon, the Ragas Live Festival, with a multi-national and multi-ethnic cast of over 60 musicians is set to be broadcast this weekend in New York and streamed live on the Internet for listeners around the world.

It is billed as longest broadcast of Indian classical music performed live.

“From what I understand, even in India, they have not produced in-studio broadcasts on this scale,” Executive Producer David Ellenbogen said.

This is the fourth Raga Festival and this year it will add a six-and-a-half-hour free concert at the Central Park on Sunday, which is the day of the Summer Solstice.

Sunday is also International Day of Yoga when there will be a yoga session in Times Square with the expected participation of 30,000 people. The Raga Festival is not a part of that program, but it also reflects the growing interest in Indian culture here.

“We are experiencing a raga renaissance in New York City,” Ellenbogen said.

“There are so many amazing musicians collaborating within and beyond the genre. This festival is a result of that and has gained a growing international audience.”

The festival is a collaboration between Columbia University radio station WKCR 89.9 FM-NY and 13 other organisations.

The marathon will be streamed live on www.wkcr.org and it will be archived at the station’s website and at www.nycradiolive.org for listeners to hear it later.

A vocal by Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan will start the marathon broadcast, at 11:59 p.m. Friday night New York Time (Saturday, 9:29 a.m. IST) and will end at midnight Saturday (Sunday, 9:30 a.m. IST) with a vocal by Pandita Tripti Mukherjee.

Among the featured musicians are Ustad Aashish Khan, Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumdar, Pandit Krishna Bhatt, Sanghamitra Chatterjee, and Pandit Samir Chatterjee.

Besides Hindustani and Carnatic classical music, the new genres and the collaboration across traditions that are emerging in New York will be represented at the festival.

Yacouba Sissoko from Mali who plays the kora, a 21-string instrument from West Africa, is to perform with Jay Gandhi on the bansuri and Ellenbogen on the guitar. Sissko and Bansuri perform at the monthly Africa/India Collaboration concerts produced at Brooklyn Raga Massive events.

Carnatic compositions in jazz interpretations by Arun Ramamurthy Trio (ART) and Chamber Raga form by Karavika are also on the programme. (IANS)

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Indian Classical Music is For a Certain Class: Vocalist Suhas Vyas

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An Indian classical music performance
India Night for the Cultural Association of India's 50th anniversary at Mizzou. Wikimedia

New Delhi, Sep 24, 2017: Indian classical music generally has a limited audience. Pune’s popular vocalist Suhas Vyas feels that it is because classical music is for a certain class of people.

Asked why the genre is mostly restricted to the elite audience, Vyas told IANS in an email interview: “As it is called, it is classical music. Therefore, it is for a certain class of people. Surprisingly, our music has been received with extreme love abroad.”

“In India too, the audience is opening up and the newer generation is learning and taking the art to their generation too.”

He is doing his bit to promote Indian classical music by training students, conducting lectures and performing in India as well as abroad.

Earlier this month, he experienced “nothing short of extraordinary” when he performed in China.

“The show was in Xiamen, China for the BRICS Summit cultural conference. To represent our nation and culture on foreign soil was a great experience. The auditorium was packed to its complete strength and we received standing ovation,” he said.

What about language barrier?

“As they say art has no language, it is all about emotions. The entire audience connected with the music. I performed a very rare composition by S.N Ratanjankar (scholar and teacher of Hindustani classical music).

“One delegate came backstage after the concert. As we both didn’t understand each other’s language, he kept on pointing at his heart and then mine. I got the message.”

There is another reason why, he feels, the audience connected with his music at the event where artistes from other BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa) also performed.

Also Read: Ragas for Preschool Children: Combining Classical Music with Fun Exercises 

“Among all other performances, which were more opera style, ours was the only one which had a seating arrangement and percussion so, it fascinated the audience and was very well received,” said the artiste, whose music is about peace and spirituality.

People often use music as a means to promote peace, but when things go politically wrong, it’s the artistes who first get affected. Why?

“Artistes are usually the first ones to take the brunt because the reaction from artistes are the least damaging politically and gives maximum political mileage to parochial political parties and pressure groups during conflicts.A

“During peace time too, due to the public connect of artistes, it is the thing that gives most political mileage.” (IANS)

 

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Chainsmokers on How they dealt with the fame that came after the release of their hit song “Closer”?

The Chainsmokers admire Indian music and say that it was cool to work with globally popular Indian star Priyanka Chopra

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Chainsmokers duo are behind the hit single
Chainsmokers duo are behind the hit single "Closer". IANS
  • It is important to use the popularity to send out a positive message
  • India is holding onto its cultural music
  • A lot of musicians in the US want to use their music for political activism

New Delhi, September 10, 2017: They felt “strange” with the fame that came with the popularity of their single “Closer”, and feel they still have a lot to prove.

American DJs and production duo The Chainsmokers say they want to push themselves and experiment. And they want to spread “positivity with their music without any propaganda.”

In a joint email interview to IANS, The Chainsmokers duo Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall reflected upon their journey in the music world and how they are dealing with the fame. They mentioned it is important to use the popularity to send out a positive message amid all the “craziness happening in the world”.

“That song (‘Closer’) gave us a lot of acclaim in a good way. (In) a lot of cases for DJs, people know the music but don’t know what they look like. And ‘Closer’ became so big. We made a couple of TV appearances and we felt famous for the first time, it kind of felt strange,” the duo said in their joint reply.

The duo, who wrapped up their two-city India tour on Friday, also appreciated how India is holding onto its “cultural music”.

The Grammy Award-winning artists headlined the Indian leg of Road to ULTRA, an independent festival brand, brought to India by ULTRA Worldwide and Percept Live. The fest made its foray into the country with Road To ULTRA show in Mumbai and Greater Noida.

The New York based artists exploded onto the music scene with viral hit “#SELFIE” in 2014. They followed it up with hits like “Roses” and “Don’t let me down”, for which they won a Grammy. The success of “Closer”, featuring Halsey, changed the whole game for them.

“We are having the best time and just enjoying every second of the ride but there is still so much more we want to accomplish and we push ourselves to experiment so we are always thinking about what’s next,” they said.

The duo continued the successful ride as they released “Paris” and a single in collaboration with Coldplay titled “Something just like this”.

A lot of musicians in the US want to use their music for political activism.

Ask The Chainsmokers if they also want to use their beats and sounds for a bigger cause, and they said: “It is important to use the resources you have and say the things you believe in, whatever those positive things may be.”

“There is a lot of craziness happening in the world right now and if you have a lot of fans looking up to you, need to create some awareness and spread positivity without a propaganda.”

Talking about their India visit, the duo said: “This is our fourth visit, to be honest…We just weren’t that famous then. We played a fun free festival in Pune. We also went to an orphanage there and met some school kids. Being foodies, we had a lot of naans and tikkas.”

The Chainsmokers admire Indian music and say that it was cool to work with globally popular Indian star Priyanka Chopra. They worked with the Bollywood actress back in 2012 for the single “Erase”.

“It’s amazing how there are only a few countries in the world that support cultural music and India is one of them apart from Brazil and Canada. It is great because there is a strong cultural identity. We have worked with Priyanka Chopra who was pretty cool,” said the “All we know” hitmakers.

Any plans to collaborate with any other Indian actor or musician?

“We were supposed to meet Shah Rukh Khan (after the Mumbai gig) but everything got messed up. He seems (to be) pretty cool and (we) wouldn’t mind hanging out with him sometime,” they said.

But that has to wait now.

“Right now, our schedule is very pretty crazy and we still feel we are relatively new music artists and we have to prove a lot. But there will come a point when we want to put our thing aside and want to work (with) all kinds of artists,” they said. (IANS)

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Richard David for City Council Campaign: A Mission to Promote Hindu Political Rights in New York

It is a proud feeling to see the efforts of Richard David in setting up the agenda for equality through Hindu political rights

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Richard David
Democratic candidate Richard David who is running for City Council from District 28, New York. Facebook

August 07, 2017: It is estimated that over 500,000 Hindus live in New York City’s Metropolitan areas. The Hindus belong to different nationalities such as India, Bangladesh, Suriname, Trinidad, and Guyana.

All five boroughs of New York have the presence of Hindus, particularly Queens which has the largest Hindu population.

Hindu political rights, in the past few decades, have been ignored by prominent leaders and officials in New York.

With this issue in mind, Richard David- a young man- is running for the City Council elections. Richard is a Democratic candidate Richard David and is preparing to run for City Council from District 28, New York. A Hindu, although the name might not imply so, Richard David’s campaign is based on the promotion of Hindu political rights. A number of Hindu activists residing in the US have supported the campaign.

District 28 also has the largest Hindu population in the US and hence the most number of Mandirs (i.e., temples: Hindu places of worship).

It is a proud feeling to see the efforts of Richard David in setting up the agenda for equality through Hindu political rights.

Recently, Richard David released his campaign plans which are as follows:

Public Education and Hinduism:

One of the central pillars of Hinduism is its stress on Education. Vital to the progress and development of diverse communities of the city is the opportunity to learn. It is significant to be educated about the culture and Hindu faith. Richard David plans on establishing a Hindu school which would carry out the education on Hinduism and its philosophies. The campaign has worked out a feasible plan that would require the crucial support of the elected officials.

Prevention of Bullying: 

Hindu children are frequently bullied in American schools for their religious background. This has adverse impacts on the well-being (physical and mental) of the child and further worries the parents. As a result of this, many Hindu families are insecure and uncomfortable in the foreign land. The Richard David campaign has formulated a tolerance program that can be worked out after-schools. It is the right approach to tackle the issue and teach respect and plurality.

An option of Vegetarian Food in Schools:

Vegetarianism is a strict principle for many Hindu followers. But this consideration is often not met in public places and events. Vegetarians do not account for secondary priority. While few options are available such as peanut butter sandwiches and salads, Hindu cuisines that make up a proper vegetarian meal is a conscious effort of the campaign.

Hindi as Foreign Language in Schools:

American schools hardly provide Hindi as a foreign language for many students who have a strong interest in the language. These kids are not only Indians but also South Asians and Indo Caribbeans who want to learn the language. The campaign seeks to add Hindi in the curriculum of foreign languages.

Indo Caribbeans and South Asian History:

The history of the Indo Caribbeans and South Asian region are rarely included in school papers. The omission of it from world history implies the ignorance towards Hindus in New York. This needs to be added so that history enthusiasts can know the significant events that shaped today’s South Asia.

The Festival of Diwali:

Diwali has been a part of discussions for far too long, yet no progress has been made to recognize the day as a holy event in school calendars. It is not only significant for Hindus, but also for Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs. The campaign seeks to introduce holiday for the Holy festival.

A Seat at the Table:

The Hindus of New York are not represented successfully at the time of cultural events and festivals. Thus it becomes important to have a Hindu at the Seat of representation. A Hindu leader must be present at the platform for further discussions and dialogue.

Chaplains:

Prayers offered at a Christian Chaplain serves as hope, particularly in prisons and hospitals. The campaign is also putting efforts to open the chaplains for Hindus seeking comfort.

Water Site for Offerings: 

Offerings in the water is a vital aspect of Hindu lifestyle. As of now, these is no place alotted for the establishment of a water site for Hindus. Thus, there is an urgent need for such a site.

Honoring Hindu Contributions to the City of New York: 

Hindus are contributing and doing much for New York City every day, but those individuals are not often acknowledged or publicly thanked and appreciated for their contributions. The recognition of these Hindu leaders in public life is important.


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