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Ace Musicians From India To Join The Storm Of Melodies At Rāga-Rang

Pallavi Nagesha

A spring of melodies is poised to storm New England with the fifth edition of Rāga-Rang. The show is scheduled for Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 6pm at the Scottish Rite Museum in Lexington, MA.

Here is my conversation with Shekhar Shastri, a poet-musician, and producer-director of Rāga-Rang, where Indian Classical Music meets cutting-edge melodies.

Q. What is Rāga-Rang really about?

A. In our musical journey over the years, we have attempted to touch the foundation, the ground of delight and joy in music. The rāga music of India is our inspiration and we have kept the focus to highlight it as the inexhaustible source of melodies, of timeless songs, and of musical innovation.

Q. After four years of astounding success, how do you feel running this show for the fifth time?

A. Entertainment is a necessity and audiences keep coming back to Rāga-Rang because they know that they get to explore heart of melody, and touch the essence of music. Rāga-Rang is an annual recharge for the soul both for us the performing musicians and the wonderful listeners.

Q. Last years Raga-Rang journeyed through the musical geography of India. What wonderful landscapes will you have us exploring this time?

A. This year we are going further and looking at nature at large. Nature is all we experience through our senses and internally. We are nature too - from breathing air to getting drenched in rain; from getting swept away in the world of our ideas, and through the emotional roller-coaster of relationships.  Somewhere this world of experience gets translated into art such as music. How does it happen? That is the theme of Rāga-Rang this year.

Q. I hear we are in for a special treat with your team of musicians this year.

A. Some team members have moved away. New musicians are joining this year. Notably, classical singers Dr. Subhadra Desai and Kaustuv Ganguli will be visiting from India. And our favorite table maestro Pt. Nitin Mitta will be a guest artist.

Q. Wow! Nitin ji has been making waves all over the world with his collaboration with jazz musicians Vijay Iyer and Guitar Prasanna. What is his role at Rāga-Rang?

A. Yes, it is matter of delight and honor to have Nitin Mitta playing with us at Rāga-Rang. I have known him for a long time and he loves the concept behind Rāga-Rang.  He is aligned with our goal that the work of a musician is not done unless the audience enters the zone of complete rapture.

Q. What can we expect in Subhadra Desais music?

A. Dr. Desai is a complete musician with mastery over theory, poetry, and melody a rare synthesis. She has researched and composed into music hymns from Veda and Upanishad, Jaidevas Ashtapadi, and even Buddhist texts. Listening to her is a meditative experience. She has authored two books: Music in Valmikis Rāmāyana (2008) and Songs of Women Seers of India (2017). 

Q. And Kaustuv Ganguli?

A. Kāustuv Kānti Gānguli is a young man with a golden voice and is a student of vocal maestro Pt. Ajoy Chakrabarty. He is an engineer and a budding musicologist and is pursuing his PhD in Electronic Systems at IIT- Bombay, India. He is applying Artificial Intelligence techniques to analyze classical music.

Q. I hear that Dr. Pradeep Shukla of Learnquest and Prof. Marc Rossi of Berklee College of Music would also be performing?

A. Yes, Dr. Shukla and Dr. Rossi are both veteran musicians of New England and it will be thrilling to have them perform with us.

Q. Who all are on your Rāga-Rang 2017 team?

Our singers are: Shuchita Rao, Meena Sundaram, Shubhra Bhattacharya-Chandra, Subhadra Desai, Kaustuv Ganguli, Pradeep Shukla, Shekhar Shastri, Sankar Gangaikondan, Aditya Rohit, and Vijay Kumar.

Our Instrumental Musicians: Nitin Mitta tabla, Giridaran Subramaniam on tabla, Abhilash Mehta on dholak, Hiral Parikh on percussion, Sujeet Phanse on flute, Phil Kaplan on guitar, Sushrut Kanetkar on Keyboard, Marc Rossi on Piano

Sound Engineer: Jawed Wahid

When and where is the event and where do we buy tickets?

When: Saturday, April 29th 2017 @ 6:00 pm

Where: Scottish Rite Masonic Museum, 33 Marrett Road, Lexington, MA 02421

To buy tickets: Lokvani.com
More Information: imeru.net

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