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“Anahata Nada” – A Memorial For The Late Pandit Ramakant Gundecha

Shuchita Rao

Pandit Ramakant Gundecha, a renowned musician from Bhopal, India who performed frequently in Boston along with his older brother, vocalist, Pandit Umakant Gundecha and younger brother, Pakhawaj player, Pandit Akhilesh Gundecha passed away on Friday, November 8, 2019 in Bhopal, India. He and his brothers were on their way to Pune, India for the purpose of giving a music performance when he suffered a massive heart attack. In celebration of Pandit Ramakant Gundecha’s life, a memorial event, “Anahata Nada”, organized by the students of Pandit Ramakant Gundecha will be held at 125 Prospect Street on Sunday, November 17, 2019 between 11AM and 1PM. This event will be open to the public.

The Gundecha brothers, Umakant Gundecha and Ramakant Gundecha specialized in Daagar Vani, a style of singing “Dhrupad”, which is one of India’s ancient living musical traditions. With roots in Sama Veda, Dhrupad derives its name from “Dhruva” which means steadfast and “Pada” which means poem. A dhrupad performance aims not to entertain the listener but to induce feelings of peace and contemplation in the listener. Famous Dhrupad singers from Indian history’s medieval period include Mian Tansen and Baiju Bawra. 

Pandit Ramakant Gundecha was a much loved Dhrupad Guru with disciples all over the world. He performed with his brothers for several years in Boston and conducted several Dhrupad workshops at Waltham based LearnQuest Academy of Music for adults and children.

Born in Ujjain, the Gundecha brothers, Pandits Umakant and Ramakant were initiated into music by their parents. The Gundecha Brothers received conventional university education and as recipients of a Government scholarship, they learned to sing Dhrupad from the renowned Dhrupad vocalist Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar at Dhrupad Kendra in Bhopal, India. The brothers also received training from the distinguished vocalist and Rudra Veena player, Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar who was the older brother of Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar.

The Gundecha Brothers created a name for themselves by composing and singing Hindi poetry by medieval and contemporary poets Tulsidas, Kabir, Padmakar and Nirala in the Dhrupad style. They wrote a book titled “Sunta hai Guru Gyani” and have recorded 50 cassettes and CDs, sung for many television channels in India and have been broadcasted on British, U.S., German, French, Japanese and Australian Radio as well. They have collaborated with Carnatic musicians, Malladi Brothers, classical Kathak dancer Kumudini Lakhia, contemporary dancers such as Chandralekha and Astad Deboo. They have been an integral part of India’s prestigious music festivals. They have also performed and conducted workshops at many important international music festivals in more than two dozen countries around the world. For their contribution to the field of Dhrupad and Indian Classical Music, Pandits Umakant and Ramakant were conferred the “Padmashri” in 2012 and the “Sangeet Natak Akademi Award” in 2017 by the Government of India.  

Pandit Ramakant Gundecha commanded great respect not only as a performer but as a teacher. He was loved for his enthusiasm towards educating music lovers about Dhrupad. His in-depth scholarship, his warm and friendly, mentoring attitude towards students of music was appreciated by music students in Boston. Dhrupads composed and taught by him have been sung at LearnQuest annual conferences for two consecutive years and by little children at the Hindi Manch National Conference held in 2018. To celebrate his life, Pandit Ramakant Gundechaji’s students will be meeting at 125 Prospect St in Framingham on Sunday, November 17 between 11AM and 1PM to offer their respectful tribute (Shraddhanjali). All are welcome.

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