ON CHHANDAYAN ALL-NIGHT CONCERTS

“The Chhandayan concert honored tradition… The core of [the concert] was one concern: how personal expression benefits a view focused on communal ideals and universal truths… The ragas would stretch until morning, but four hours had confirmed the relevance of this tradition. These artists, though dedicated to form, were also innovators. Jazz and other world-music influences were evident even to a drifting listener. The challenge here was… to become immersed in sound that defied time and narrative structure by going deep within.”

Ann Powers, The New York Times, 2001 Chhandayan All-Night Concert (CANC)

 “I wanted to write and thank you for arranging the wonderful musical concert on the late evening of May 13th going into the morning of May 14. Something which is ‘spiritual’ in nature cannot be properly described – it has to be felt. Right or wrong – I always looked at Indian classical music in that ‘spiritual’ category. When Dr. N. Rajam hit the first note of Tori on her violin on that morning of May 14th, a tingle ran down my spine and almost completely immobilized ‘the physical me’ till she stopped playing. I never realized that sound could exert such a powerful physical effect and at the same time could be so uplifting and so sweet to the human spirit. I got a sweet taste of heaven.” – audience member from Pittsburgh, PA; 2006 CANC

“I want to thank you from my heart for the concert Saturday night. It was the most beautiful and powerful music I have heard in a long time…Again, my deepest thanks for bringing this uplifting music to so many people.” – Jazz Guitarist from NY, 2008 CANC

“Words cannot begin to express my awe and gratitude for the beautiful musical event last Saturday evening. A friend of mine …..told me about the all night concert. I am a yoga teacher and regularly attend evening kirtans at my local yoga studio. I was intrigued by the idea of an all-night event, but was not familiar with classical Indian music. However, after reading your welcome letter in the program booklet, addressed “Dear lovers of the divine,” I felt right at home. Your words were warm, welcoming and set the feeling-tone for the evening. I also appreciated the words of wisdom from Steve Gorn: the settling-in to a particular raga…the roots in nada yoga…and Indian music as a sadhana. And the music!!! … so harmonious, enlightening, beautiful, inspiring…..a joy!” – administrator, college of performing arts, PA; 2008 CANC

“The Chhandayan performance on Saturday/Sunday was the greatest musical event I have ever been to in my life, and I mean that very seriously. Thank you so much for making such a thing possible, no words I know can describe the beauty communicated in those performances.” – an audience member from Pittsburgh, PA; 2006 CANC

 “Congratulations for another wonderful Chhandayan All-Night Concert! It was absolute perfection…Top quality artists, perfect sound, inspiring location, delicious food and helpful volunteers. What more could you ask for? It was so good to see the audience which included many young people and all ethnic backgrounds since an audience is an integral part of the mix. It will be a treasured memory always.” – audience from MD, 2008 CANC

“How can I possibly thank you and Chhandayan for the blissful night at the Chhandayan All-Night Concert (May 10–11, 2008). Every artist’s performance was so memorable. I wish that the Indian Government sees it fit to honor you with Padma vibhsuan not only for your great talent in tabla but also for your ambassadorial service to the Hindustani Classical music. I think here you surpass an artist way beyond.” – audience from New York, 2008 CANC

“Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of this! This was an unparalleled experience. Even at the 11th hour when I was blinking in the sunlight, unsure of where I was (or who I was!), it was a completely transformative experience. The days that have since passed were filled with more light and happiness than I had seen in a very long time, and I know that it’s no coincidence. I look forward to being involved with this event for a long time into the future. It was very, very special.” – volunteer; 2008 CANC

“ Congratulations….!! You are a true, consummate, professional and dignified artist….!!

Thanks for bringing and spreading our Indian music to this part of the world. Looking forward to listening to the program on CD”. – audience from New York; 2007 CANC

TO THE GURU

“Thank you very much for your comment on my video on Facebook! I was so happy to hear from you! I am always so grateful for everything I have learnt from you, not just about music, but also about discipline, which I am able to apply to everything I do into my life. I play as much as I can, but is tough because I work very long hours.” – Disciple
“I have observed that every time I encounter what seems like a dead end, God provides me with a new hope, by providing either suitable resources or wonderful people who lead me through the dead end. I feel that God has sent you in my life to lead me into next phase of my music. Thank you for allowing me to be your student…I do not know, how to even think of returning all these act of kindness. May be, the best I can hope to do is to continue this act of kindness to others.” – Student and Chhandayan Faculty
 

“You are a great person and a big inspiration for me; with this I wanted to say thank You! I am really happy to have met You in New York!!! What a happy life I’m having!” – Student, Germany

“My wife and I were so thrilled to be able to see our son on stage at Lincoln Center with Anoushka Shankar. It was such a wonderful experience for him. We thank you for making that possible. Beyond that one experience we feel that he is most fortunate to have you as his mentor and soon-to-be guru. He learns much more than music from you. Your kindness and enthusiasm are attributes which he will incorporate into his life along with the music that he learns from you.” – Father of disciple, Philadelphia

 “Yesterday’s class was a memorable one. Listening and learning from everybody, it was as if I saw what lies ahead of me ten years from now. From what we have received from the past lessons, exercises and knowledge from you we can easily spend the next few years working on them and contemplating on the spirituality that intertwines our music. I was proud to hear all the students and especially the youngsters whom I feel like I have seen them grow physically, artistically, and spiritually. Yesterday, I felt you had allowed us to taste the first few drops of water from an ocean. I was filled with joy. I feel fortunate to have you as a guru and the others as my fellow students.” – Student, Maryland

“Today is student’s day. If I were in NYC, I would attend it. That fact makes me very sad. I hope the concert will be great. I just found and moved in the new place where I will spend next a couple of years… After I left New York City, I feel time is passing very quickly. And every time I face tabla, I remember you and what you taught me. And now I realize your great teaching and influence. I keep practicing what you told me at the last lesson as much as possible.” – Student, Tokyo

“Something I have been meaning to ask you. When I practice I try to find the space beyond thought. I am talking about any kind of thought. I guess a kind of meditation. But in order to grow with the instrument we have to think as we practice and not make things stale and always try to find the challenges and new avenues of the same composition. This is something that I have absorbed from you and it is a deep quality that you posses. So my question is when you practice what is going on in your head? Is it empty sometimes? Sometimes I see the wheels turning. Is it a balance we are trying to achieve between emptiness and thought, or if the mind is so clear that any thought is not perceived as thought?” – Student, Canada

 “You are undoubtedly one of gentlest of the gurus, and perhaps you have to be when your students come from that not-so-sound foundation known as American society…I know the roots well. We have a hard time with authority. One thing your students have is a strong spirit, and despite their sensitivity, they’ll surely work hard to satisfy you to demonstrate their love for you. I also have a smile on my face knowing how tough you could really be if you were not that vast pool of patience…” – Student, New York

“ I’m so grateful and fortunate to have you as a guiding light in my life. So steady, maybe I take it for granted sometimes. But always shining and bringing change and brilliance in many unimaginable ways.” – Disciple, New York

FRIENDS

“I just went through the details of the activities you have organized for the Student’s Day. It is a good way to encourage students of CHHANDAYAN to keep on the top of what they are learning and at the same time give them an opportunity to perform in front of their teachers and their peers. By your continuous work in teaching at various places,

organizing a ‘whole night concert’ each year in New York, keeping a busy concert schedule for yourself, being a member of other performing groups, writing a book on tabla, etc., you are contributing to the cultural life of USA in a very significant way. I know what it takes to do all these things, and do them well. So please accept my congratulations for your constant efforts and for the jobs well done. I wish I was in the New York/New Jersey area to work as a volunteer.” – professor at U Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

“How the years have flown by, it seems like yesterday that I was writing a letter to INS to get you as a permanent resident and look at where you are today! A true testament to your tremendous talent and to America which nurtures and gives opportunity. But the person also has to know to take the gift. So many come here and do nothing. I hope you know the exception you are and how much I love you and respect you for playing with me all these years. Your professionalism has been impeccable. For your friendship and your musical contributions to my small endeavors, I am truly fortunate.” – colleague musician, VA

“Thank you for the opportunity to play, grow, and gain experience. Performance teaches us to bring the gift of Riyaz out of solitude and into people’s lives. It forces us to become compact and organized. The last minute teachings and insightful suggestions were very important for me and shall influence my playing forever. It was fun and educational and I am freshly inspired to practice Bansuri and transcend limitations.” – aspiring musician

“Your physical expression as well as your clarity of tabla playing is outstanding and much different from the rest of the tabla masters I know of. I became your student to learn tabla, but instead you teach us not only tabla but also the meaning of our lives and how to respect very important people that we sometimes ignore. You showed us how to respect our mother, on your 50th birthday program. I am very fortunate to be your student and very lucky to have found you in my life…” Student

“It was a real pleasure to play with you this past weekend. I look forward to much more. Not only are you a tremendously great musician, but you have great artistic vision. This is very rare. I’m hoping to continue to learn from you.” – colleague musician, NY

“When we met, I forgot to mention that your tabla solo CD was the first I ever purchased. When I bought it I knew nothing of what you were playing, but as I developed as a player my appreciation increased dramatically. I listen to your music and consider your approach to be the benchmark for a traditional, substantive tabla solo. I hope that we get to meet again someday soon! It would be wonderful to show you my progress.” – workshop student, Oregon

“I think that it’s quite clear and obvious that ever since we first met, I’ve felt totally at ease and comfortable in the presence of your energy. It actually felt like re-uniting with an ancestral friend or relative – buddies from a remote time past. I’m quite sure of this, actually! Our relationship since then has grown into what I consider to be a very special brotherly liaison between two spiritual entities. I am your friend and brother, in music and in life, and am honored to learn from you, as well as freely exchange any knowledge with you that I may have to give.” – Student/performing artist, Brazil

ON CONCERTS

Carnegie Hall on October 28, 2006

“The Carnegie Hall concert on Saturday was a memorable concert. The tablas were really a highlight of the evening. Many times we couldn’t tell there were two tablas. It was very stunning to see you two in such perfect harmony. The seemingly effortless magic of your beats was most enjoyable to watch and hear. Thank you for the opportunity to experience such fine quality music. And of course, for your efforts in spreading Indian classical music, in the NYC area, we have been to a number of your all-night concerts. On Saturday, my 4 year old son’s gaze was transfixed on your rhythms (he sat thru the whole concert, without a peep!). I hope someday soon he will be learning in your guidance.” – audience from CT

House concert Potomac, MD on August 5, 2006,

“You made the evening. This was one of my best programs. By now you must know that I am very forthright and say it “as is” ! I told ….that although he is an Ustad with all the knowledge he has, but Samir Chatterjee, the Tabla-Nawaz, stole the show. He agreed.” – host and connoisseur, MD

UMASS with Ethos Percussion

“Thank you for a wonderful inspiring concert, full of heart and soul of true artists at work. The audience loved it and showered their compliments. Many of those who attended are international musicians living in the area, student music majors and world music lovers. Their comments on the excellence of your musical technique and artistry were very meaningful and worthwhile. The pieces you played in the evening concert provided us with an aural tour of the world wide migration of people through the ages. It was uplifting to hear the similarities and see the cultural shifts and influences that seed new ideas for development of music and rhythms. It was music for the intelligent by intellectuals.” – Administrator, UMass, Amherst, MA

Chhandayan concert in Potomac, MD on April 23, 2006

“Both ladies were outstanding at the concert last Sunday. I have received more calls from my friends about this concert than any other that I have sponsored during last couple of years. Thank you for bringing such good artists through Chhandayan.” – Co-sponsor, MD

On the book: A Study of Tabla

“I’ve finally had the opportunity to open your book and watch the DVD. I found the material and presentation both fascinating and inspiring. The tabla solo and sections on accompaniment really knocked me out. I am about to write a piece for Modern Drummer magazine, and I will include it.” – Professor at Manhattan School of Music, NY

“I wanted to make sure you fully knew how awesome (and awe-inspiring) the book is. I’ve really been enjoying doing my riyaaz, and having this book by my drums is both inspiring and humbling. The wealth of knowledge, across so many gharanas, is tremendous. I had the chance to watch some of the DVD last night, as well – the bits of accompaniment are my favorite and I love the continuity of the tanpura, from the guruji hymns to the end.” – Student, NYC

“I got the Tabla Book and your “special” Bengali writing on it is very special to me. I can literally see the love and affection that is pouring through this book. I am absolutely certain that this book will be an invaluable repository for the future of Tabla in this country and elsewhere. History will measure your contribution in this regard. When I saw you first, from day one despite all the “road-blocks” of life, like a Yogi you did things and still continue to do. In this process, you try to overcome all the irregularities and impracticalities. They come and you overcome and you continue to do things as motivated as ever. – Disciple, VA

“My hearty congratulations to you on this towering achievement. In the annals of Indian Classical Music this treatise will occupy the pinnacle as a reference study on tabla. This is a Book that all tabla players must have. It is well researched, professionally edited and excellently presented. It is a great pleasure to have to have all this material in one place. The scope of your task is akin to what the great Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatekhande did.” – Connoisseur, Toronto