Professional Artists


Ustad Ali Akbar Khan Sahib

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan'sfamily traces its gharana (ancestral tradition) to Mian Tansen, a 16th century musical genius and court musician of Emperor Akbar. Ali Akbar Khan's father, the late Padma Vibhusan Acharya Dr. Allauddin Khan, was acknowledged as the greatest figure in North Indian music in this century. Born in 1922 in East Bengal (Bangladesh), Ali Akbar Khan (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 he must concentrate on the sarode 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 Allahabad at age thirteen. In his early twenties, he made his first recording in Lucknow for the HMV label, and the next year, he became the court musician to the Maharaja of Jodhpur. He worked there for seven years until the Maharaja's untimely 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 Lord Menuhin, Ali Akbar Khan first visited the United States in 1955 and performed an unprecedented concert at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He also 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 America in 1965. In 1967, he founded the Ali Akbar College of Music, which moved to Marin County, California, the following year. He currently maintains a teaching schedule of 6 classes a week for 9 months of the year. Khansahib also opened a branch of his college in Basel, Switzerland, run by his disciple Ken Zuckerman, where he teaches yearly during his world tour. Ali Akbar Khan continues to tour extensively in Asia, Europe, The Netherlands, Australia, Canada, and the United States. Khansahib has 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 DC; both 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. When Ali Akbar Khan first received the title of Ustad as a relatively young man, his father merely laughed. But later, when the patriarch was a centenarian, he told his son one day that he was very proud of him: "I am so pleased with your work in music that I will do something which is very rare. As your Guru and father, I am giving you a title, Swara Samrat (Emperor of Melody)." Khansahib feels most fortunate to have received this blessing from his father, mother, and uncle.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan Sahib

Taught by his father Haafiz Ali Khan, a musician to the royal family of Gwalior, Amjad Ali Khan was born to the illustrious Bangash lineage rooted in the Senia Bangash School of music. Today he shoulders the sixth generation inheritance of this legendary lineage. Since his debut performance at the age of six, Amjad Ali khan Sahib has been influencing the Indian classical music scene as only a legendary genius can. The Sarod has been given a new and yet timeless interpretation by Amjad Ali Khan – audiences throughout the world have been captivated.

He has performed at the WOMAD Festival in Adelaide and New Plymouth, Taranaki in New Zealand, WOMAD Rivermead Festival in UK, Edinburgh Music Festival, World Beat Festival in Brisbane, Summer Arts Festival in Seattle, BBC Proms, International Poets Festival in Rome, Shiraz Festival, UNESCO, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Adelaide Music Festival, 1200 Years celebration of Frankfurt and Schonbrunn in Vienna.

In the matter of awards, Amjad Ali Khan has the privilege of winning the kind of honours and citations at his relatively young age, which, for many other artistes would have taken a lifetime. He is a recipient of the UNESCO Award, Padma Vibhushan (Highest Indian civilian award), Unicef's National Ambassadorship, The Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum and Hon'ry Doctorates from the Universities of York, England, Delhi University and the Vishva Bharti (Deshikottam) in Shantiniketan and "Commander of the order of Arts and letters" by the French Government.

He represented India in the first World Arts Summit in Venice, received Hon'ry Citizenship to the States of Texas, Massachusetts, Tennessee and the city of Atlanta. April 20th, 1984 was declared as Amjad Ali Khan Day in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1995, Mr. Khan was awarded the Gandhi UNESCO Medal in Paris for his composition Bapukauns.

His collaborations include a piece composed for the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yoshikazu Fukumora titled Tribute to Hong Kong, duets with gutarist Charley Byrd, Violinist Igor Frolov, Suprano Glenda Simpson, Guitarist Barry Mason and UK Cellist Matthew Barley. He has been a visiting professor at the Universities of Yorkshire, Washington, North Eastern and New Mexico. BBC Magazine had voted one of his recent CDs titled ‘Bhairav’ among the best 50 classical albums of the world for the year 1995. In 1994, his name was included Biographical in International Directory of Distinguished Leadership, 5th edition. In 1999, Mr. Khan inaugurated the World Festival of Sacred Music with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In 1998, Khan composed the signature tune for the 48th International Film Festival. In March 2002, Mr. Khan released his Carnegie Hall concert recording, Sarod for Harmony-Live at Carnegie Hall to commemorate his fiftieth performing year. Once again this year, Maestro Amjad Ali Khan performed for His Royal Highness Prince Charles at his Highgrove Estate for the second time after earlier recitals in 1989, 1995 and 1997(at St. James Palace).

He has been a regular performer at the Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Kennedy Center, Santury Hall (First Indian performer), House of Commons, Theater Dela Ville, Muee Guimet, ESPLANADE in Singapore, Palais beaux-arts, Mozart Hall in Frankfurt, Chicago Symphony Center, St. James Palace and the Opera House in Australia.

In his case, the term 'beauty of the Ragas' acquires a special meaning as he has to his credit the distinction of having created many new Ragas. It is love for music and his belief in his music that has enabled him to interpret traditional notions of music for a new refreshing way, reiterating the challenge of innovation and yet respecting the timelessness of tradition.

Two books have been written on him. The World of Amjad Ali Khan by UBS Publishers in 1995 and Abba-God’s Greatest Gift To Us by his sons, Amaan and Ayaan published by Roli Books-Lustre Publications in 2002. A documentary on Mr. Khan called Strings for Freedom won the Bengal Film Journalist Association Award and was also screened at the Ankara Film Festival in 1996.

Ronu Majumdar (bansuri)

Ronu Majumdar is a master of the bansuri, the North Indian flute. He is an international performing artist and is renowned for his superb rhythm, warm and melodious tone. His music is full of aesthetic and emotional appeal and he is well-known for his innovative collaborations with major international artists such as Ry Cooder and Herbie Hancock.

Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan (sitar)

Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan is an internationally recognised great Indian sitarists. Shahid Parvez Khansahib belongs to the seventh generation of the famous Etawah gharana in sitar playing. He is the son of Ustad Aziz Khan, the famous musician and a noted composer, and he is the grandson of Ustad Wahid Khan, the Surbahar and Sitar virtuoso. Ustad Wahid Khan was the uncle of Ustad Vilayat Khan. Ustad Shahid Parvez was introduced to vocal music and tabla by his illustrious father, Ustad Aziz Khan, before he was initiated into playing sitar. He was recognized as a child prodigy, and gave his first public performance at the age of eight. Perseverant in the minutest technical detail, and the purity of Ragas, he gave utmost attention to the improvisation of every aspect
of 'layakari'. In Ustad Shahid Parvez, we find a unique combination of the 'gayaki' ang (influenced by vocal stylings and produced by the left hand) and the 'tantrakari' ang (the rhythm produced by the right hand, the mizrab). Over the years, he has created a distinct genre of instrumental music, and has evolved a distinctive style of his own. Ustad Shahid Parvez is a 'top' grade artist of All India Radio. He is one of the few maestros to enjoy global reputation, and he has numerous LP records, audio and video cassettes, and Compact Discs to his credit. He has been honored with several awards, both national and international, and has participated in many of the major festivals in India and abroad, including the Festival of India, held in the U.S., Canada, U.S.S.R., Europe, and so on. For many years now, Ustad Shahid Parvez has enthralled audiences in India and abroad, creating a trance with his music. He has carved out a niche amongst the topmost artists in the world. As stated in the Rajasthan Patrika, "After to listening to Ustad Shahid Parvez, the future of sitar is still bright, after Pandit Ravi Shankarji."

Uday Bhawalkar (dhrupad)

Dhrupad is believed to be the oldest surviving form of North Indian classical vocal music, dating back to the 15th century. An austere and highly spiritual form, dhrupad has enjoyed a revival of popularity in recent years. Uday Bhawalkar is a respected dhrupad singer, from the long-standing Dagar gharana. He has performed at many prominent music festivals in India and abroad and has taught at the Rotterdam Conservatorium, the World Music School in Amsterdam and at the Asian Music Summer School 2000. Sunanda Sharma (light classical vocal) Often described as a ‘light’ or ‘semi-classical’ style, thumri is nevertheless a demanding and highly refined genre. Thumri developed in Lucknow during the early 19th century AD, and is now a popular art form. Much emphasis is placed on the subtle expression of emotions inherent in the song-texts, and their musical manipulation by the singer.

Sunanda Sharma

Sunanda Sharmais a fine classical singer and teacher and young star of the Benares gharana, who has gained her knowledge and experience from the great Smt Girija Devi. Rajan & Sajan Misra (khyal) Literally translated as ‘fantasy’, khyal is an elaborate and virtuosic style, incorporating many of the elements of dhrupad, whilst allowing more complex ornamentation and greater structural freedom.

Pandits Rajan and Sajan Mishra

Pandits Rajan and Sajan Mishra are two of the most beloved and highly regarded vocalists in India. These two brothers are considered the foremost exponents of the Banaras style of Khayal (a form of North Indian classical music) singing. It is a measure of their popularity that Rajan Sajan Mishra, as these brothers are popularly known, always command huge audiences wherever they perform - be it in India or abroad. Endowed with voices that are rich and well blended, their singing is characterized by unusual beauty, energy and imagination. In addition to Khayal, Mishra brothers also excel in rendering the light classical forms such as Tappa, Tarana and Bhajan. Their voices have reached every part of India, and since the revival of Maharishi Gandharva-Ved Music they have toured extensively on almost all continents.

Born into the famous Banaras gharana, Pandit Rajan Mishra and Pandit Sajan Mishra belong to a family of great maestros. They were trained in vocal music under the able guidance of their father, Pandit Hanuman Mishra, a well known vocalist himself. They also received training from their uncle, one of the most celebrated sarangi players of India, Pt. Gopal Prasad Mishra as well as from Gayanacharya, late Pt. Bade Ramdasji of Banaras. Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra must be acclaimed as the best in jugalbandi (duet) singing which requires immaculate coordination among other things. The aim of jugalbandhi, the musical partnership, is to bring home the subtleties and refinements of music as naturally and as spontaneously, as in the solo performance. With their immense skills, imagination, and energy they have raised the status of jugalbandi music to the heights rarely heard before. Surely, the Mishra brothers have carved a niche for themselves with their unique style, which combines grace with the power of the male voice. Rajan and Sajan Misra are among India’s most celebrated exponents of khyal, from the esteemed lineage of the Benares gharana. Musically, the brothers have an exquisite mutual understanding: ‘when we sing, we are one soul singing, even though we are in two bodies’.

Nina Burmi (vocal)

Nina Burmi is UK’s leading exponent in the ‘Kirana’ Gharana Style of Hindustani classical vocal. Naturally gifted with a melodious and resonant voice, which extends uniquely across a range of three octaves, Nina captures the exquisite yet vibrant and dynamic emotions of Hindustani classical music effortlessly. The listener is led spell bound through her caressing alaps, to be overwhelmed by her cascading taans, and rippling sargams. This expression is further enhanced by the ease with which she establishes a fine rapport with her audience through a striking stage presence. An outstanding feature of her talent is her capacity to combine youthful flair with mature virtuosity - whether khayal, thumri or bhajan.

From a very early age, Nina showed considerable aptitude and with the keen support of her father, started rigorous training under the guidance of Shree Surjit Singh Raja. Her present style, classism, and maturity can be attributed to the taleem she has been receiving from the distinguished maestro Ustad Dilshad Khan – a feat made all the more commendable by the sheer distance between herself and her Guru. In her music, she embodies the complexity and creativity of Ustad Dilshad Khan’s style, matched with the unique charm and presentation of Begum Parween Sultana. This quality has been developed over a period of years performing on tour with her respected Guru and Guruma.

In 1995, Nina gave her Debut performance in Bombay’s ‘Dadar Matunga Hall’ under the auspicious banner of ‘Kalanaya’ - a commemorative concert held in the name of the late Ustad lkramul Majid Khan, (late father of Begum Parween Sultana). Since then, she has been in great demand, and has performed extensively thoughout India, captivating audiences not only in Delhi and Bangalore, but also in ‘discerning’ Calcutta. Performances include venues such as the prestigious ‘Harballabh’ Sangeet Festival and ‘Shanmukhanandha Sangeet & Fine Arts Sabha’. In July 1997 she gave her much acclaimed UK debut performances at the prestigious ‘Nehru Centre’ in London, the second one of which was introduced by the eminent vocalist Lakshmi Shankar. Recently, she has been busy conducting concert tours for leading UK based Asian music associations.

With the blessings and support of her Guru, her family and her audiences, Nina can envisage a truly promising future.

Lalita Sharma (vocal)

Lalita Sharma received long arduous training in both Carnatic and Hindusthani vocal music from well respected gurus. A graduate of the Govt Music College in Chennai and a disciple of Pdt Jasraj since 1993, she has accompanied her Guru in many major concert festivals, and has performed solo in numerous concerts in India, USA, Europe, Australia, and Singapore. She teaches vocal music at the Pandit Jasraj School of Music in Tampa, Florida.

Ustad Aashish Khan (sarod)

Aashish gave his first public performance at the age of 13, with his grandfather, the legendary Acharya Allauddin Khan on the All India Radio "National Program", New Dehli, and in the same year, performed with his father Swara Samrat Ali Akbar Khan and grandfather at the "Tansen Music Conference", Calcutta. Since then, he has performed throughout India and the world not only with his father, but as a soloist in his own right. Besides his virtuosity as a traditional sarodist, Aashish pioneered in the establishment of the "world music" genre. He was a founder of the Indo-American musical group "Shanti" in 1969/70 and the fusion group "The Third Eye" for which he was the first to write a sarode concerto in the "raga" form. Aashish has collaborated with such diverse Western musicians as John Barham, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Charles Lloyd, John Handy, Alice Coltrane, Emil Richards, Dallas Smith, John Pope, Jorge Strunz, Ardeshir Farah, and the Philadelphia String Quartet.

Rajeev Taranath (sarod)

Rajeev Taranath is one of the leading performers of the sarode today. A distinguished disciple of Maestro Ali Akbar Khan, he was first trained as a child in Hindustani vocal music by his father and other eminent musicians and was a concert and radio artist before he was twenty. Rajeev Taranath performs internationally and is currently on the faculty at the California Institute for the Arts in Los Angeles, where he teaches Hindustani classical music. He is the recipient of the Indian government's highest award in the arts, the Sangeet Natak Award for 1999-2000 for outstanding achievement in the field of Hindustani Instrumental music.

Anoushka Shankar (sitar) Anoushka Shankar is the extremely talented 18-year-old daughter of Ravi Shankar, who has studied under her father for the last nine years and in 1995, at the age of 13, made her professional debut in New Delhi, India. Since then she has assisted her father at major concert halls in India, Europe, the U.S.A., Asia and the Far East endearing herself to the listeners with her sincerity and exceptional talent. Anoushka is the only student of Ravi Shankar to study under his tutelage from the absolute beginning, starting with how to hold the sitar. Trained also in classical piano, Ms. Shankar is developing her own unique sound by studying the masterful style of her father. In March of 1997, she accompanied him in a performance of his Concerto No. 1 for Sitar and Orchestra with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the independence of India. In January 1998 Anoushka played both the Piano and the Sitar with Maestro Jean Pierre Rampal. Critics worldwide acknowledge the gifts of this rising star and hail her as the obvious successor to the great tradition of her father. Anoushka was honoured by the Parliament with a House of Commons Shield, in London, on July 17, 1998, in recognition for her artistry and usicianship - as a pre-eminent musician of Asian Arts. At 17, she was the youngest and the only female recipient. Ms. Shankar is an exclusive EMI-Angel artist. The Prime Minister of India released her debut album, 'ANOUSHKA', in the fall of 1998 at Carnegie Hall. Her second album 'ANOURAG' is due to be released in August 2000. In July 1999 Anoushka performed with Maestro Rostropovich a new piece for sitar and cello, written by her father, Ravi Shankar. Anoushka became the first woman ever to perform at The Ramakrishna Centre in Calcutta in February 2000.

The Gundecha Brothers (vocal)

Dhrupad is the oldest style of vocal and instrumental music and is considered a major heritage of Indian culture. The continuity of dhrupad has been sustained by traditions of devotional music and worship. "The nature of the dhrupad music is spiritual and the artist does not seek to entertain but to induce deep feelings of peace and contemplation in the listener."The Gundecha Brothers (Umakant and Ramakant) are the torchbearers of the great dhrupad tradition. After obtaining post graduate degrees in music from the Madhav Music College in Ujjain, both brothers received training from the renowned vocalist Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar and his brother, the veena virtuoso Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar, at the Dhrupad Kendra in Bhopal.The Gundecha Brothers' rendition of dhrupad is marked by a sense of melody and their voices display an impressive range of fullness and power thus enhancing its meditative quality. They have incorporated the poetry of Tulsidas, Padmakar, Nirala and Keshav Das into their music.Both brothers have performed in the Washington area a number of times. They have been featured internationally in various festivals all over the world and have won the hearts of audiences and critics alike.

Shiv Kumar Sharma (santoor)

The name of the artist, Shiv Kumar Sharma is synonymous with the music instrument that he plays - santoor. He has transformed the little known Kashmiri folk instrument into a full fledged solo concert instrument in Indian classical music.Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma has been honored by the Sahitya Natak Academy and has received the Padma Shree. He has the honorary citizenship of the city of Baltimore, and has received the Indian classic music's first platinum disc for the 'The Call of the Valley' and has given special performances before the House of Lords in Britain and in front of the Queen of Holland.

Savita Ahuja (vocal)

Savita Ahuja is a disciple of the legendary Ustad Mehdi Hassan Khan since 1977 and is a well-known Ghazal singer, both in USA and India. Her singing reflects years of dedication and a unique style emphasizing emotional rendition and clarity of lyrics. She grew up in Jabalpur where she gave public performances from the age of 10, and sang her own compositions at the All India Radio Station. In the early 70's she was a familiar voice in the CARAVS (Christian Association for Radio, Audio, and Visual Services) a program broadcast by Radio Ceylon. She received her formal education in classical music from Pandit S.B. Deshpande of Bhatkhande School of Music at Jabalpur, and earned her Master's degree (Kovid) in music. During her recent stay in Delhi for two years, she received further training from Ustad Iqbal Ahmad Khan, "Khalifa" of the Delhi Gharana.Since 1977, she has performed in major cities of the USA and Canada, alone and together with Ustad Mehdi Hassan, Parvez Mehdi, Nitin Mukesh, Munni Begum and others. She is a familiar voice at various community cultural Programmes organized by Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan, Sandhu Samaj, Shabhe Gazal, Sur Sangam, and Diwane Khas. etc. in the New York area During her recent visit to New Delhi, she gave many private and public performances including a concert At the Triveni Kala Sangam, India International Center and at the Delhi Hyatt Regency Hotel which was sponsored by Motorola. A first collection of Savita Ahuja's Ghazals will be released soon.

Arvind Bhand (harmonium)

Arvind Bhand started learning harmonium accompaniment at the age of ten and was influenced by seventeen years of stay in the musical town of Gwalior. He has played with several luminaries in the field of Indian classical and semi-classical music, as well as with original scores of light music. He is essentially self-taught, and has to his credit successful concert tours in the U.S. as well as in India as a harmonium accompanist

Pandit Ravi Shankar (sitar)

Ravi Shankar, the legendary sitarist and composer is India's most esteemed musical Ambassador and a singular phenomenon in the classical music worlds of East and West. As a performer, composer, teacher and writer, he has done more for Indian music than any other musician. He is well known for his pioneering work in bringing Indian music to the West. This however, he did only after long years of dedicated study under his illustrious guru Baba Allaudin Khan and after making a name for himself in India.Always ahead of his time, Ravi Shankar has written two concertos for sitar and orchestra, violin-sitar compositions for Yehudi Menuhin and himself, music for flute virtuoso Jean Pierre Rampal, music for Hosan Yamamoto, master of the Shakuhachi and Musumi Miyashita - Koto virtuoso, and collaborated with Phillip Glass (Passages). George Harrison produced and participated in two record albums, "Shankar Family & Friends" and "Festival of India" composed by Ravi Shankar. He has composed extensively for films and Ballets in India, Canada, Europe and the United States, including Charly, Gandhi and Apu Trilogy. Ravi Shankar is an honourary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and is a member of the United Nations International Rostrum of composers. He has received many awards and honours from his own country and from all over the world, including fourteen doctorates, the Padma Vibhushan, Desikottam, the Magsaysay Award from Manila, two Grammy's, the Fukuoka grand Prize from Japan, the Crystal award from Davos, with the title 'Global Ambassador' to name some. In 1986 he was nominated as a member of the Rajya Sabha, India's upper house of Parliament. His recording "Tana Mana", released on the private Music label in 1987, brought Mr. Shankar's music into the "New age" with its unique method of combining traditional instruments with electronics.In the period of the awakening of the younger generation in the mid 60's, Ravi Shankar gave three memorable concerts - Monterey Pop Festival, Concert for Bangla Desh and The Woodstock Festival. Mr. Shankar has several disciples and many of them are now very succesful concert artists and composers.The love and respect he commands both in India and in the West is unique in the annals of the history of music. In 1989, this remarkable musician celebrated his 50th year of concertising, and the city of Birmingham Touring Opera Company commissioned him to do a Music Theatre (Ghanashyam - a broken branch) which created history on the British arts scene.

Lakshmi Shankar (vocal)

Lakshmi Shankar, one of the foremost and well-known vocalists of India, had her training in the North Indian tradition from Ustad Abdul Rehman Khan of the Patiala Gharana (style or school). Later she learnt from many masters including Prof. B.R. Deodhar and also from the sitar Maestro, Pandit Ravi Shankar, whom she assisted in most of his projects for ballets, films, fusions and festivals. The magic of her rich, melodious voice, her sense of proportion and the emotional content of her singing are some of the qualities that have made her one of the foremost and most popular vocalists since the last fifty years. She is the first Indian classical vocalist who has done pioneering service to popularise vocal music in the west. She has numerous recordings to her credit and has lent her voice to many films, including the Academy Award-winning 'Gandhi' by Sir Richard Attenborough. She is at present a recipient of the Durfee Foundation(L.A.) to teach Indian music to American students.