Maestro Ali Akbar Khan's Centennial Concerts CEST
Our Fifth Concert in the Centennial Celebration Series!
Welcome back to our fifth concert in our Centennial celebration series, honoring Maestro Ali Akbar Khan’s 100th birthday. Our gratitude cannot be conveyed properly to those who have joined us during this year of festivities so far. Rounding out the summer, we are proud to present our next concert in this online series on Saturday, August 20th at 7:00 pm (worldwide).
These online performances are a tribute to the life, teachings, and music of Maestro Khan, one of the greatest sarod players of our time.
Our August concert will begin with a special duet between sarodist Rajrupa Chowdhury and sitarist Sahana Banerjee, with tabla accompaniment by Abhijit Banerjee. The evening will conclude with a beautiful performance on bansuri by Pandit Nityanand Haldipur, with accompaniment on tabla by Indranil Mallick.
These performances are hosted by Maestro Khan’s school, the Ali Akbar College of Music—a non-profit organization seeking to spread the teachings of this ancient tradition to any and all who wish to learn. For more information about upcoming events throughout this Centennial year, please visit aliakbarkhan.com.
Meet the Artists
Pandit Nityanand Haldipur is among the Maihar gharana’s leading bansuri exponents. He was a longtime student of surbahar maestro Annapurna Devi, one of India’s most revered musicians. He continues his guru’s tradition of teaching students of other instruments, including flute, saxophone, violin, guitar and vocals, and holds “listening sessions” on the works of Maihar gharana greats, such as Ustad Allauddin Khan. His bansuri style fuses the ideas of Ustad Wazir Khan and Pandit Pannalal Ghosh.
Born in Bombay, Nityanand’s first guru, who initiated him into the art, technique and aesthetics of flute-playing, was his father, the late Shri Niranjan Haldipur—a senior disciple of the renowned flute maestro, the late Pandit Pannalal Ghosh. At the tender age of nine, Nityanand received instruction from Pannalal himself. Over the next two decades, Nityanand’s training continued under the late Pandit Chidanand Nagarkar, and the late Pandit Devendra Murdeshwar—the senior-most disciple of late Pandit Pannalal Ghosh, under whom Nityanand perfected his technique.
However, it was after 1986, when Padma Bhushan Smt. Annapurna Devi—doyen of the Senia-Maihar gharana and daughter of the legendary Ustad Allauddin Khansaheb—accepted him as one of her disciples, that Nityanand’s talent and musicianship truly flowered. The polished tonal grace, rhythmic elegance and depth, as well as lucidity of expression evident in Nityanand’s playing are the result of his continuing advanced training and refinement under Smt. Annapurna Devi. It embodies the hallowed teaching traditions of the Senia-Maihar gharana and follows the same arduous riyaaz and persevering commitment that has produced virtuosi like Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Pandit Pannalal Ghosh and Pandit Nikhil Banerjee.
Indranil Mallick combines talent, virtuosity and youthful dynamism in perfect proportion, making him a leading tabla player of his generation. Since the age of five, Indranil has received intensive training under eminent masters, including his uncle, Montu Mallick, as well as Professor Dhabol Bandyopadhyay, Shri Uttam Chakraborty, and, currently, living legend Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri. This training has shaped Indranil’s rich repertoire and contributed to his reputation in the national and international arena.
Indranil has also found success in cross-over collaborations with western musicians, including a recent project with Miles Davis Electric Band. All India Radio and Television have awarded Indranil an “A Grade,” marking him as a distinguished musician of India.
Lauded by connoisseurs and critics for his solo performances and accompaniment with renowned musicians, Indranil was the first tabla player to receive the prestigious Pandit Bhimsen Joshi Award in 2015.
Rajrupa Chowdhury was born in Kolkata, India. She took up the sarod at the tender age of five at the Ustad Ameer Khan School of Instrumental Music, under the guidance of Pranab Naha. She has taken talim from Pandit Ajay Sinha Roy and from Siddhartha Roy Chowdhury. In 2006, Ms. Chowdhury placed first class in her Masters in Instrumental Music from the Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata. Since then she has been taking advanced talim from Professor Sanjoy Bandyopadhyay, who has been influential in the formation of her own style of music.
Ms. Chowdhury has performed at various concerts and competitions in India, such as: Salt Lake Music Festival, Kolkata (2010); Maitraiyee Sangeet Sammelan, Kolkata (2009); Sutanoti Parisad Concert, Kolkata (2005); Protiva Utsab organized by EZCC (2003); Bishwa Banga Shammelan at Yuva Bharti Krirangan, Kolkata (2001); India Habitat Centre (2001); All India Radio Music Competition (2001); and Dover Lane Music Competition, Kolkata, (1999), amongst others. She is the proud recipient of awards such as the ITC-SRA Promising Artist Award, the National Scholarship for Senior Students of Indian Classical Music, and Distinction for Sangeet Bhushan by Sangeet Parisad.
Sahana Banerjee is one of the most accomplished and outstanding female sitar players of India. Belonging to the Rampur Senia Gharana, Sahana was born in a family of rich musical heritage and was readily recognized as a child prodigy at the early age of 4. Her father, Professor Santosh Banerjee, was a celebrated sitar and surbahar player in India, and former Head of the Department of Instrumental Music of Rabindra Bharati University in Kolkata. Additionally, Sahana received extensive vocal training from her mother, Chhabi Banerjee—daughter of Sangeetcharya Kashinath Chattopadhyay of the Sahaswan Gharana.
Sahana’s unique presentation reflects the traditional Veenkar Dhrupad Style of the Rampur Senia Gharana—maintaining the purity of raga along with her own aesthetic blends of gayaki.
Under the tutelage of her father and years of hard training, she won the Pandit Nikhil Banerjee Challenge Trophy at the Dover Lane Music Conference in the year 1990 in Kolkata and was given the "Best Instrumentalist" award. Apart from being a top artist at All India Radio and Television since 1995, Sahana has also given many prestigious stage performances in India and Europe. Sahana has played sitar in many occidental music festivals, where she performed with famous Italian flautist Massimo Mercelli.
Abhijit Banerjee was born in 1964, and by the age of 4 years old had already received his first instruction from Tushar Kanti Bose and, later, from Manik Pal. After that, he became a disciple of the late Pandit Ghyan Prakash Ghosh, who ranked at that time among the most outstanding tabla teachers of the last century. Besides his education on the tabla, Abhijit also took vocal lessons from Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty and received lessons on the violin from Guru Ma Annapurna Devi.
As a child, Abhijit received an award at the prestigious “Tansen Music Competition”—and then, in 1984, Pandit Nikhil Banerjee chose him for his last tour of Europe as accompaniment on the tabla. After that, Abhijit established himself at the major festivals in India and worldwide—such as the Dover Lane Conference and the St. Xavier’s Music Festival.
In addition to his technical versatility, his empathetic playing style makes him one of the most in-demand tabla players of his generation. His use of pattern and variation, along with his support for the soloist, makes Abhijit a great proficient. However, aside from his accompaniment to such renowned musicians as Amjad Ali Khan, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and Parween Sultana, Abhijit has also been requested more and more often to perform tabla solos on major stages of the world—as well as making a name for himself in the jazz scene.
About Maestro Ali Akbar Khan
Ali Akbar Khan (known more familiarly as Khansahib) was regarded as a “musician’s musician.” He was the master of the sarod (a 25-stringed, fretless instrument), in the Maihar gharana (ancestral tradition), and was known for his incredible breadth of artistry and knowledge. He was born in the village of Shibpur, in present-day Bangladesh on April 14th, 1922, and was raised by his father, Acharya Baba Allauddin Khan, and his mother, Madina Begum.
Khansahib began his studies with his father at the tender age of 3, learning vocal music. The classical music of North India is among the oldest continual musical traditions in the world, dating back thousands of years, and his father is acknowledged as one of the greatest figures in North Indian music of all time. Their family traces its gharana from Mian Tansen—a 16th century musical genius and court musician for Emperor Akbar—to Mohammed Wazir Khan, who was court musician of Rampur State and Baba Allauddin Khan’s guru. In olden times, this music was considered close to magic; there are many accounts of it healing the ailing, as well as starting fires and bringing rain. The music could be used as medicine, and for this reason it must be studied seriously and with intense dedication.
Khansahib would go on in life to be awarded the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award in India, followed by the Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest. In 1971 he performed at Madison Square Garden for the Concert for Bangladesh, along with Ravi Shankar, Alla Rakha, and Kamala Chakravarty; other musicians at the concert included George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr. Khansahib received the illustrious MacArthur Fellowship in 1991—the first Indian musician to be awarded the “genius grant.” In 1997, Khansahib received the National Endowment for the Arts’ prestigious National Heritage Fellowship; this is the United States’ highest honor in the traditional arts. He also received five Grammy nominations over the course of his life.
For more information about Khansahib’s incredible life and works, please visit aacm.org
About the AACM
The Ali Akbar College of Music was founded in 1967 by the legendary sarod Maestro Ali Akbar Khan, in Berkeley, California. The following year, it was relocated to Marin County—eventually landing in San Rafael, where it has remained.
During Ali Akbar Khan’s career, he often dreamed of being able to open a school of music; an institution where musicians and music lovers alike could exist together and be surrounded constantly by their shared interests. After opening his first school in Calcutta in 1956, Khansahib was drawn to California and the incredible interest he found when visiting the Bay Area. It was his father, the esteemed Acharya Baba Allauddin Khan, who instilled in Khansahib the importance of spreading and teaching this music to any and all who wish to learn. His influence was the basis for Khansahib’s vision and remains as the mission statement of the AACM.
More at aacm.org