Learn Quest Academy Boston
by Mohan Mali
Checking into Hilton Back Bay Hotel in Boston during a recent visit to America, a phone call revealed a plethora of information about an ongoing music conference organized by Learn Quest Academy. There I was in the evening, attending a lecture demonstration by Yogini Gandhi, a very talented Kathak dancer and another lecture demonstration by Pt. Ashis Sengupta, a tabala maestro from India.
The person behind the academy is Dr. Pradeep Shukla, who teaches mathematics and computer science, but is passionate about Indian classical music. After a formal chat with the mild-mannered Dr. Shukla I decided to shoot some images on the first day of the conference. The conference was hosted at Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts.
The afternoon started with a kathak recital by Yogini Gandhi. Yoginiji is very meticulous about her preparation of the stage, light and sound. Not surprisingly her performance was close to perfection. She was accompanied by Amit Kavthekar on tabala , a disciple of Zakir Husain.
This was followed by a performance by Gundecha brothers from Bhopal. Dhrupad Gayaki is a genre of Indian classical music which has a very old tradition. Gundecha brothers left the audience spellbound. Their ability to hit the lower registers, up to mandra shadja was just fascinating.
Previous evening, Pt. Ashis Sengupta’s lecture on playing tabla was a superb demonstration of his mastery over the instrument. I personally was very impressed with his humility and down to earth attitude as an artist.
Without getting into the merits and demerits of any particular gharana, he left the gathering richer by sharing a lot of information about the traditions and history of tabla as an accompanying instrument. Kaniska Prakashan has recently published a book written by him called ‘Facets of tabla playing’. Soft spoken Vinay Mishra, accompanied Panditji even more gently on harmonium, with raga shyam kalyan.
Unfortunately I could not attend Manjusha Patil Kulkarni’s performance the next day. (I also missed her singing while in San Francisco). The conference in Boston was staged over a week at different venues. The musicians and artists who performed at the conference included Pt. Vinayak Toravi, Padma Shri Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan, Pt. Debi Prasad Chatterjee, Subhra Guha and others.
For more information about Learn Quest Academy in Boston go to http://www.learnquest.org