Gundecha Brothers to Perform at Asia Society NY on May 8


Asia Society and the Sanskriti Center (NY) present

Gundecha Brothers: Dhrupad Music of North India

Featuring: Umakant Gundecha - Dhrupad Vocal; Ramakant Gundecha - Dhrupad Vocal; Akhilesh Gundecha – Pakhawaj; Nirant Gundecha – Tanpura; and Jennifer Melmon - Tanpura

Saturday, May 8, 2010
7:00 p.m. – Pre-performance lecture
8:00 p.m. – Performance

Asia Society and Museum
725 Park Avenue at 70th Street, NYC

Asia Society and the Sanskriti Center in New York present the Gundecha Brothers and Ensemble in a rare New York performance of Dhrupad Music of North India. Dhrupad is an ancient style of classical Hindustani vocal music, a form of devotional music that traces its origin to the ancient text of Sam Veda and seeks to induce feelings of peace and contemplation in the listener.

Dhrupad relies on Raga (meaning "colour" or "mood" in Sanskrit), a series of 5 or more musical notes upon which a melody is made. In the Indian musical tradition, ragas are associated with different times of the day, or with seasons. Indian classical music is always set in a raga. Non-classical music such as popular Indian film songs or ghazals sometimes use ragas in their compositions. The writer and poet Octavio Paz described ragas as “soliloquies and meditations, passionate melodies that draw circles and triangles in a mental space, a geometry of sounds that can turn a room into a fountain, a spring, a pool.”

This program is co-sponsored by the Sanskriti Center. Ticket prices for the performance are $16 for Asia Society and Sanskriti Center members; $18 for students w/ ID/seniors and $20 for nonmembers. For tickets and information, call (212) 517-ASIA or visit Members of the press interested in the performance should contact Asia Society’s public relations department at 212-327-9271

About the artists
Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha
are India's leading exponents of the Dhrupad style of music. They are among the most active young performers of Dhrupad in Indian and international circuits. Born in Ujjain in Central India, both were initiated into music by their parents at an early age.

The Gundecha Brothers received conventional university education and learned the Dhrupad vocal art under the renowned Dhrupad vocalist Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar and also with Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar (the distinguished performer of Rudra Veena) in Dhrupad Kendra Bhopal. The Gundecha Brothers have sung great Hindi poetry by Tulsidas, Kabir, Padmakar, Nirala in Dhrupad style. They have recorded about 25 cassettes and CDs by H.M.V., Music Today, Rhythm House, Senseworld Music, Sundaram Records, IPPNW Concerts Berlin, Navras and Audio Rec London. They have also sung for many television channels in India and have been broadcasted on British, U.S., German, French, Japan and Australian Radio as well. As well as being an integral part of all of India's prestigious music festivals, the Brothers have also performed at many important international music festivals and institutions in about 25 countries in Europe, U.S.A, Australia, Japan, Egypt, Singapore, Bangladesh, U.A.E and Hong Kong. They have received M.P. Govt. Scholarship from 1981 to 1985, National Fellowship from 1987 to 1989, Ustad Allauddin Khan Fellowship in 1993, Sanskriti Award in 1994 and Kumar Gandharva Award in 1998 by Govt. of Madhaya Pradesh and Dagar Gharana Award by Mewar Foundation in 2001. Rajat Kamal - National Film Award for the Best Music Direction (2006)

Akhilesh Gundecha has learned Pakhawaj playing from Pandit Shrikant Mishra and Raja Chhatrapati Singh JuDeo. He is a post-graduate in music and obtained a graduate degree in Law. He also was awarded scholarships from prestigious institutions such as Ustad Allauddin khan Sangeet Academy in Bhopal. He accompanied many Dhrupad Maestros such as Ustad Z.F. Dagar, Ustad Fahimuddin Dagar, Pt. Siyaram Tiwari, Shrimati Asgari Bai, Dr. Ritwik Sanyal and Bahauddin Dagar. He has also played solo recitals at the Tansen Festival-Gwalior, Haridas Sangeet Samaroh in Mumbai and Dhrupad Samaroh (Bhopal) among other music venues.  Akhilesh is regularly featured on Radio and Television and has toured to Europe, Asia and the USA.

About the Instruments
is a drone instrument. It resembles a sitar with no frets. It has four strings tuned to the tonic. The word tanpura (tanpoora) is common in the north, but in south India it is called tambura or thamboora.  The tanpura is known for its very rich sound. There are three main styles; the Miraj style, the Tanjore style and the small instrumental version sometimes called tamburi. The Miraj style is the typical north Indian tanpura (tambura). This is the favorite of Hindustani musicians. It is typically between 3 to 5 feet in length. It is characterized by a pear shaped, well rounded tabali (resonator face) and non-tapering neck. It usually has a resonator made of a gourd, but rarely one may find resonators made of wood. It does not partake in the melodic part of the music but it supports and sustains the melody by providing a very colorful and dynamic harmonic resonance field based on one precise tone, the basic note or key-note. The Pakhavaj, also called Mardal, Pakhawaj, Pakuaj, is an Indian barrel-shaped, two-headed drum, the North Indian equivalent to the Southern mridangam. It is the standard percussion instrument in the dhrupad style and is widely used as an accompaniment for various forms of music and dance performances. The pakhavaj has a low, mellow tone, very rich in harmonics. Set horizontally on a cushion in front of the drummer's crossed leg, the larger bass-skin is played with the left hand, the treble skin by the right hand and the pakhawaj rhythms are taught by a series of mnemonic syllables known as bol.

About Asia Society
Founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd, Asia Society is a nonprofit nonpartisan educational institution. Through exhibitions and public programs, Asia Society provides a forum for the issues and viewpoints reflected in both traditional and contemporary Asian art, and in Asia today. Asia Society is located at 725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street), New York City.

About the Sanskriti Center
Sanskriti is a 501 (c) (3) not for profit organization registered in New York State in 2004 founded by Swati Bhise and run by her and Bunty Sawhney, along with their patrons. Sanskriti’s goal is to promote and preserve the legacy of Indian culture by imparting the gift of that rich tradition to the children of the greater New York area.  Sanskriti works to instill its students with an abiding appreciation of India’s heritage, to transform them into cultural ambassadors. Through arts in education and promoting all artists Sanskriti is committed to building bridges not only between America and India, but between the past and the present cultural history of India. Our Motto is “SA VIDYA YA VIMUCHYATE” Knowledge is that which liberates.