Newsletter May / June 2017

1. Tirupati – Kirtan-Harmoniums for Travels
2. Kishori Amonkar – The last Diva
3. Subroto Roy Chowdhury – Master of Alap
4. The Art of Practice (2/4) – Regularity 
5. How to Make (Indian) Music? (7) - Total Presence
6. Workshops – June to September
7. Concerts - June to August

1. Tirupati – Kirtan-Harmoniums for Travels 
- New in our assortment -

Harmonium Tirupati Kirtan Mini

Our new Kirtan Mini Harmonium from Tirupati is perfect for yogis and kirtan fans. It is a smaller and somewhat simpler version of the classic model Kirtan 23 B - thanks to Krishna Das or Jai Uttal probably the best-known harmonium model in the Western kirtan community. With its double reeds the Tirupati Kirtan Mini has a full, warm sound, is very light and sturdy and especially small when collapsed - a perfect instrument for travels. Moreover the price of 489 € is particularly favorable! 

The Tirupati Kirtan Mini has the classic 23 B design, playability and sound quality. Because of the much smaller cabinet, however, it has less pitch range and sustain. Moreover the Kirtan Mini has no octave coupler and only two instead of three or four drone stops. Although these are limitations of the artistic possibilities, they are hardly relevant for the accompaniment of mantras, chants and kirtans.

Details photos & sound samples of the Tirupati Kirtan Mini here.

Harmonium Tirupati Kirtan 23B

Another new harmonium in our assortment is the Tirupati Kirtan 23 B. It is nearly identical to the classic 23 B from Paloma, Bina, DMS or other brands - but uses better materials. The simple construction makes it cheap and sturdy. Double reeds and octave coupler give a full, brilliant sound. And thanks to the folding mechanism, it is so compact that you can still carry it with just one hand. A good choice for beginners and kirtan singers - now available for 589 €!

Details, photos & sound samples of the Tirupati Kirtan 23 B here.

2. Kishori Amonkar – The last Diva
- Obituary by Yogendra -

On 3 April, after a short illness, one of the last real divas of the classical North Indian khyal tradition has died in Mumbai. Kishori Amonkar was 84 years old. The great singer was regarded by some critics as willful, gruff and capricious. However, her admirers saw her peculiarities as signs of her absolute surrender to the music. Her great artistic merits were universally appreciated. Her life was honored with the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest Indian state award, in 2002 and in 2009 with the lifetime Sangit Natak Akademi Fellowship, the highest cultural award in India.

Kishori AmonkarBorn in 1932, Kishori Amonkar was the first of three children of the great Mogubai Kurdikar, a major female vocalist of the Jaipur style. After the early death of her father, her mother had to raise the three little ones alone in modest circumstances. Kishori received vocal training in the Jaipur style from Mogubai from early childhood on. The Jaipur style remained the foundation of her art throughout her career. Mogubai also encouraged her to explore her own creative ways, to continue studying with various other teachers, and to study not only the classical khyal, but also the semi-classical genres thumri and bhajan. Kishori also learnt what it meant to be a woman in a male-dominated environment and to fight for respect when she acompanied her mother on concert tours.

Kishori Amonkar found the narrow stylistic and technical conventions of the various Indian singing schools rather detrimental from the very beginning of her career. She placed great emphasis on the emotional intensity and the spiritual dimension of her music instead of maintaining the purity of a certain tradition. In doing so, she drew criticism from traditionalists, but also opened up boundaries and achieved unique expressive power. She has declared again and again that there is only music, no singing schools. One only had to understand the grammar of the ragas and then could move independently and freely in the music, beyond repetitive techniques, she said. She even compared the demarcation between different schools with the division of music into a caste system.

Rejecting safe musical pathways, however, increases the danger of failure. Not every idea proves to be powerful, and inspiration does not always flow. Thus one could hardly expect smooth polished high-gloss concerts from Kishori Amonkar. Sometimes one could see her  dissatisfied with herself on stage, irritated by a bad sound system or angered by a disrespectful audience. She could go so far as to interrupt a concert or not even start it. She saw the search for the perfect music as a lifelong process which required constant work with a critical eye on oneself. And she also challenged organisers and audiences by demanding, if not dedication, at least due respect for the art of music. But when the conditions were right and the inspiration carried her, Kishori Amonkar created moments of timeless magic, in which a dialogue with a higher world could be felt.

Recording with six short raga interpretations by Kishori Amonkar..
Kishori Amonkars CD Prabhat Ragas Todi & Lalita Pancham at India Instruments.
DVDs of Kishori Amonkar at India Instruments. 

3. Subroto Roy Chowdhury – Master of Alap
- Obituary by Matyas Wolter -

The internationally renowned and highly esteemed Indian sitarist Subroto Roy Chowdhury died unexpectedly after a short illness on 22 May in a hospital in Berlin. Subroto's music had its roots in the majestic dhrupad style, enriched with selected ornamentation of the modern sitar style. He was a master of the alap, the solo form which introduces a raga performance without tabla accompaniment and is regarded by many connoisseurs as the essence of classical Indian music. Here he was able to spread as much magic as the greatest masters - in a style that was inimitable and unmistakable his own. He could talk about the raga grammar, or speak in rage - especially about the lack of discipline of one of his disciples - but as soon as he touched the first note of his alaps, he took himself and his listeners into another world full of beauty, emotions, spirituality and equanimity.

Subroto Roy Chowdhury

Subroto Roy Chowdhury was born in Calcutta in 1942 and started his sitar studies at the age of 14 under Nirmal Chakravarty. He continued his studies with dhrupad master Birendra Kishore Roy Chowdhury. He later studied with the sarod masters Hafiz Ali Khan and Radhika Mohan Maitra, the legendary dhrupad singer Nasir Aminuddin Dagar, and the sitarist Bimal Mukherjee. His musical vision was immense, his knowledge of melodic subtleties almost endless, and the manner of teaching clear, precise, and unambiguous. When asked about a random raga, he usually began ad hoc to recite old traditional instrumental or vocal compositions, to reflect on raga grammar, or to tell anecdotes about that raga. His enthusiasm was almost limitless. His teaching style was refreshing, spontaneous, enjoyable and yet strict and suited to the needs of each student.

With his musical devotion, he made pioneering work in Europe, opening many doors for future generations. The consistency, vehemence and loving tenacity with which he carried his passion and musical vision into the world is unrivaled. Like no other sitarist, he left his mark mainly in the German music scene: at the beginning of the 1970s, he was the first sitarist in the communist German Democratic Republic. Since the early 1980s, he has been visiting the Federal Republic of Germany every year and has taught numerous students. Until his death, he completed over 1000 concerts outside India, most of them in Germany. His teaching activity led him to various universities worldwide - in Germany, among others to the Free University Berlin and the College of Music Franz Liszt in Weimar. His second LP "Calcutta Meditation" was released in 1983 on the German jazz label ENJA Records. Countless others followed. He toured and taught tirelessly. He played his last concert one week before his death in Stuttgart.

In addition to his role as a raga music guru, he was an affectionate and loving friend whose cookery and conversational skill was in no way inferior to his sitar art. He was in friendly relations with many great Indian music masters of his generation and liked indulging in profound anecdotes, which are an important aspect of musical education in the Indian tradition. With his death, a clear source of seeminly endless knowledge has vanished forever and a singular voice in the raga cosmos has fallen silent.

Alap, Jor Jhala in Raga Koushiki Kanada by Subroto Roy Chowdhury.
Raga Shudh Basant by Subroto Roy Chowdhury with Anindo Chatterjee on tabla. 


4. The Art of Practice (2/4) – Regularity
- Field Report by Yogendra -

Practice makes perfect – a simple truth when learning any (Indian) instrument. But how does practice succeed? An approach in four steps...

It takes time to master the playing technique of a musical instrument and to learn a musical language. But it is not just the amount of invested time which matters, but also its distribution. Regularity is the key here. When you practice seven hours in a row once a week you can easily overextend yourself physically and mentally. But when you practice one hour daily throughout the week, you can get into each practice session with full energy and concentration. And in between the practice sessions you can regenerate physically  and also process the music mentally.

It is ideal when daily practice becomes as self-evident in everyday life as e.g. brushing your teeth. For this purpose, it is useful to find a regular time slot for practice which fits well into my personal routine, e.g. always after getting up, before or after work, when children or partners are out of the house, before going to sleep or before or after a certain meal. A fixed place for practice is helpful, too. The instrument and the necessary accessories are readily waiting for me there. Nothing has to be procured or prepared before I can start. There is no inhibition threshold that must be overcome. On the contrary: the practice spot should be inviting and friendly and thus make my practice natural and easy.

This way, practice does not get stressful. Rather, it acquires a regenerative quality, even when I strain myself at times. Ultimately, the practice time is a time just for myself. I am not accountable to anyone. I can completely immerse in the music. Be in flow. And gain distance to everything that might otherwise burden me. My daily practice is not an additional duty, but a luxury I can afford, an oasis in which my head is free, my body warm and alive, and my soul flies. It is a ritual that gives me strength in its reliability.

The ritual character is reinforced when my practice always includes recurring elements. The inevitable tuning of any string instrument, e.g., can be used as an inner tuning as well. The hearing is refined and the doors to the music world open in the process. A similar effect can be achieved by beginning any practice session with the same well-known basic exercise, e.g. a certain scale. Repeating a familiar exercise over and over again and again slowly deepens my understanding and increases my awareness. At first I may still have trouble finding the right notes and keeping rhythm, but later on my focus will shift to sound quality and subtleties of intonation and timing. However, I can only succeed when my practice does not become a dull mechanical routine. I need to remain alert, present and open.

In the North Indian music tradition there is a ritualised form of regular practice called Chilla. The word is Persian and means 40 – the number of days for which Chilla is practiced. In its most radical form, I withdraw from the outside world completely for a period of 40 days, getting only essential food and liquid supplied, sleeping as little as possible, and spending all the time practicing the instrument. But it can also be considered a Chilla when I practice at the same time in the same place for the same amount of time for 40 days - even when it's only a few minutes. The essence of Chilla is the vow to go on a 40-day expedition into the world of music, but also into myself. And with the right spirit every single practice session can become such an expedition.

Essential aspects of the art of practice, along with duration and regularity, are intelligence and joy. More about these in the next newsletters ... 

5. How to Make (Indian) Music? (7) – Total Presence
- Quote by Ali Akbar Khan -

The series "How to Make (Indian) Music?" presents thought-provoking, inspiring or controversial quotes from artists and intellectuals.

Ali Akbar Khan

„When you play music you can't relax for even half a second. You can't take out your mind. Every second is so important that you can't think anything else. If you miss half a second, you're missing so many things: tone quality, pitch, feeling, and the raga, and the rhythm, and then a quarter beat. Therefore you have to keep your mind ve

Workshopvideo with this Quote.

6. Workshops - June to September
- Scene-Info -

Detailsof all workshops are available in our website's network section at the workshop page.

KD23.06.-25.06. HORUMERSIEL: Harmonium - Advanced with Devadas Mark Janku
23.06.-25.06. I - ZAGAROLO: Masterclass Kuchipudi Dance with Santala Shivalingappa 
24.06.-25.06. HAMBURG: Sing with a Master -  Kirtan with Ustadji
25.06. BERLIN: Traditional compositions of Senia gharana with Steven Landsberg
14.07.-20.07. WUSTROW/WENDLAND: Bharata Natyam Summerschool mit P. T. Narendran and Kalamitra
15.07.-21.07. CH - OLIVONE (Tessin): Abhinaya Darpana –Art of Acting in Indian Dance Bharata Natyam with Vijaya Rao
16.07.-23.07. BAD MEINBERG: Chakras in Nada Yoga with Anne-Careen Engel
23.07.-28.07. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium- and Kirtan Week with Devadas Mark Janku
28.07.-30.07. OBERLAHR: Harmonium - Advanced Seminar with Devadas Mark Janku
28.07.-30.07. HAMBURG: Bhramari-Kathak for Advanced
31.07.-04.08. GR - CORFU: Hearts on Fire with Satyaa & Pari
04.08.-06.08. HORUMERSIEL: Harmonium Beginner's Seminar with Jürgen Wade
07.08.-11.08. GR - CORFU: Hearts on Fire with Satyaa & Pari
26.08.-02.09. E - MALAGA: Ashtanga Yoga Retreat with Live Musik with Andrea & Govinda
27.08.-01.09. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium and Kirtan in Classical Indian Style with Ram Vakkalanka
08.09.-10.09. GERODE/HARZ: Nada Yoga - Healing Power of Sound with Frank Beese, Carmen Mager & Barbara Irmer
15.09.-17.09. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium Beginner's Seminar with Devadas Mark Janku
22.09.-24.09 HEMMOOR/CUXHAVEN: Sitar - Step by Step... with Yogendra

7. Concerts - June to August
- Scene-Info -

More detailed information, locations and times as well as further dates in our concert calendar.

Krishna Das

22.06. I - RAVENNA: Debasmita Bhattacharya - Sarod
22.06. BERLIN: Bhakti Deshpande - Kathak Dance
23.06. I - RAVENNA: Kushal Das - Sitar & Shashank Subramanium - Carnatic flute
24.06. I - RAVENNA: Praveen Godkhindi - Bansuri
24.06. I - RAVENNA: Bahauddin Dagar - Rudra Vina & Pelva Naik - Dhrupad Vocal
24.06. I - ZAGAROLO: Atmananda - Kuchipudi Dance
24.06. A - WIEN: Natya Mandir Students - Bharata Natyam Dance
24.06. CH - ZURICH: Krishna Das - Kirtan
24.06. GB - LONDON: Punita Gupta - Sitar
24.06. CZ - TOCNIK: Neckar Ganga - Sitar, Saxophone, Tabla, Percussion, Bass
24.06. BADEN-BADEN: Partha Bose - Sitar & Gopal Prasad Mishra - Flöte
24.06. BERLIN: Steven Landsberg - Sitar
25.06. NL - DEN HAAG: Shivkumar Sharma - Santur & Hariprasad Chaurasia - Bansuri
25.06. NL - AMSTERDAM: Lenneke van Staalen - Violine
25.06. GB - LONDON: Sanjay Guha - Sitar
26.06. BERLIN: Neckar Ganga - Sitar, Saxophone, Tabla, Percussion, Bass
28.06. WINDECK: Neckar Ganga - Sitar, Saxophone, Tabla, Percussion, Bass
28.06. I - ROMA: Bahauddin Dagar - Rudra Veena, Pelva Naik - Dhrupad Vocal 
30.06. A - LANS: Indian Air - Sitar, Percussion, Bass
30.06. BERLIN: Vikas Maharaj – Sarod, Abhiskek Maharaj – Sitar & Vocals
01.07. NL - AMSTERDAM: Krishna Das - Kirtan
01.07. A - WELS: Indian Air - Sitar, Percussion, Bass
01.07. A - WAYDHOFEN: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
01.07. STUTTGART: Gopal Prassad - Bansuri
01.07. CH - ROVEREDO: Neckar Ganga - Sitar, Saxophone, Tabla, Percussion, Bass
02.07. NL - AMSTERDAM: Krishna Das - Kirtan
02.07. STUTTGART: Gopal Prassad - Bansuri
02.07. I - VENEZIA: Bahauddin Dagar - Rudra Veena, Pelva Naik - Dhrupad Vocal
04.07. LADENBURG: Neckar Ganga - Sitar, Saxophone, Tabla, Percussion, Bass
05.07. I - ROMA: Krishna Mohan Bhatt - Sitar, Sougata Roy Chowduri - Sarod
05.07. B - ANTWERP: Krishna Das - Kirtan
07.07. DK - KOBENHAVN: Anoushka Shankar - Sitar
08.07. A - WIEN: Krishna Das - Kirtan
08.07. STUTTGART: Debashish Ganguly - Sitar
09.07. STUTTGART: Debashish Ganguly - Sitar
09.07. I - RAVENNA: Anoushka Shankar - Sitar
10.07. DRESDEN: Neckar Ganga - Sitar, Saxophone, Tabla, Percussion, Bass
10.07. BERLIN: Nirmala Kumari - Sitar
11.07. MUNICH: Krishna Das - Kirtan
13.07. FRANKFURT: Krishna Das - Kirtan
13.07. HEIDELBERG: Neckar Ganga - Sitar, Saxophone, Tabla, Percussion, Bass
14.07. KISSLEGG: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
15.07. BERLIN: Krishna Das - Kirtan
15.07. KOBLENZ: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
15.07. MANNHEIM: Neckar Ganga - Sitar, Saxophone, Tabla, Percussion, Bass
16.07. Berlin: Krishna Das - Kirtan
16.07. MANNHEIM: Neckar Ganga - Sitar, Saxophone, Tabla, Percussion, Bass
22.07. E - BARCELONA: Krishna Das - Kirtan
22.07. CH - MAERSTETTEN: Prem Joshua & Band - World Music
22.07. LOSHAUSEN: Indian Air - Sitar, Percussion, Bass
22.07. STUTTGART: Jayalakshmi Sekhar - Saraswati Vina
23.07. STUTTGART: Jayalakshmi Sekhar - Violine
26.07. A - BAD HOFGASTEIN: Indian Air - Sitar, Percussion, Bass
27.07. HERZBERG: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
05.08. A - STOCKENBOI: Prem Joshua & Band - World Fusion
19.08. BERLIN: Prem Joshua & Band - World Music
25.08. NEUWIED: Indigo Masala - Sitar, Akkordeon, Percussion, Vocal
27.08. BUELOWSIEGE (Uckermark): Sebastian Dreyer - Sitar
31.08. CH - ZURICH: Prem Joshua & Band - World Music


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