Years ago while traveling around the world, David Ellenbogen, executive producer at New York City’s WKCR radio station, ended up in Calcutta, “at the feet” of Debashish Bhattacharya” whom he describes as “the greatest guitarist in the world” and the experience as akin to “climbing the Himalayas.”
He was bowled over by the immense respect he saw Indians give to ragas, Ellenbogen told Desi Talk. That’s driven him to keep promoting Indian music of all genres on his radio station. On June 20th, that love is manifesting itself in a 24-hour marathon of Indian ragas broadcast live over his radio station, the first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere according to Neel Murgai, founder of Brooklyn Raga Massive, one of several Indian-American music groups that thrive in Manhattan and surrounding boroughs. Ellenbogen calls it “a renaissance” of Indian ragas in the Big Apple. Ellenbogen also has a 72 hours of ragas on his podcast site at nycradiolive.org, which includes his recordings of music from around the world.
The Ragas Live Festival 2015 is in its fourth year and features more than 60 musicians, some of them world renowned, performing live at studios around the city and broadcast on WKCR at 89.9 FMNY, midnight to midnight. This will be followed on June 21st by free concerts in Central Park Dairy Lawn, according to a release from the groups behind the whole effort which include Afro Roots NYC, Anindo Chatterjee School of Tabla, Brooklyn Raga Massive, Carnatic Sundays, Chhandayan Center for Indian Music, HarmoNYom, Krishna Bhatt’s Gurukul, Navatman, NYC Radio Live, and Shastra & Taalim School of Indian Music. The event is part of Make Music NY or MMNY,
Several maestros are coming from India including Pandita Tripti Mukherjee , Ustad Aashish Khan , Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumdar, Pandit Krishna Bhatt , Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan , Sanghamitra Chatterjee , and Pandit Samir Chatterjee.
“Each raga is meant to be played and heard at a certain time of the day and night. So you can hear the late night ragas late at night and the morning ragas in the morning,” Murgai told Desi Talk.
Alongside will be emerging performers in the city with classical and new genres such as, Yacouba Sissoko, a Kora player from Mali will perform with bansuri player Jay Gandhi representing the monthly Africa/India Collaboration concerts produced at Brooklyn Raga Massive events. Chamber Raga, a form being explored by musician Karavika will be featured. Prodigy Vivek Pandya who made his Ragas Live debut with a 45 minute solo at 8 years old, will now perform at 10 years old with the maestros Samarth Nagarkar (vocal) and Abhik Mukherjee (sitar).
Murgai said because the studios where the musicians will be playing for the live broadcast are small, no audiences can attend. Which is why this year free performances and workshops are scheduled to be held in Central Park on June 21.
The Complete Schedule (subject to change):
Live Festival Radio Broadcast: SATURDAY JUNE 20th (starting at 11:59pm June 19th/12:00am June 20th). You can tune in to WKCR on 89.9FM in the NYC area or online at www.wkcr.org.
12am to 1am Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan (vocal) + Nitin Mitta (tabla)
1am to 2am Camila Celin (sarod) + Ehren Hanson (tabla)
2am to 3am Max ZT (hammered dulcimer) + Dan Weiss
3am to 4am Sandip Bhattacharya (Vocal) and Anirban RoyChowdhury (tabla)
4am to 5am Arjun Verma (Sitar)
5am to 6am Indro RoyChowdhury (sitar) + Anirban Dasgupta (sarod) + Mike Lukshis (tabla)
6am to 7am Suhas Joshi (vocal) Gopal Kalluri (tabla) Neeraj Joshi (harmonium)
7am to 8am Payton MacDonald, Dhrupad Trance; Dan Weiss, drumset; Reena Esmail, violin & piano
8am to 9am Achyut Joshi (Vocal)
9am to 10 am Karavika Amali Premawardhana (cello) Trina Basu (Violin) Perry Wortman (bass) Sameer Gupta (tabla)
10am to11am Samarth Nagarkar (vocal); Abhik Mukherjee (sitar); Vivek Pandya (tabla)
11am to noon Steve Gorn (bansuri), Eric Fraser (bansuri), and Ehren Hanson (tabla)
noon to1pm Navatman Music Collective
1pm to 2pm Namaskar: Sameer Gupta: drumset, tabla Arun Ramamurthy: violin Rashaan Carter: violin Neel Murgai, sitar
2pm to 3pm Om Gam: Michael Gam (bass), Kane Mathis (kora), Arun Ramamurthy (violin), Shiva Goshal (tabla
3pm to 4pm Jay Gandhi (bansuri) & Arun Ramamurthy (violin) with Abhi Seetharaman (mridangam)
4pm to 5pm Chhandayan Tabla Ensemble (Avinash Bose, Aditya Shinn, Rafi Hakim, Ronak Seth, Noelina Arciniegas, Kedar Gangopadhyay and Benjamin Stewart); Aditya Phatak (tabla solo); Chhandayan Vocal Ensemble (Roshni Basu, Shampa Chanda, Adwaitaa Goswami, Dibyakalyan Basu, Andrew Shantz, Harry Einhorn and Anand Prashadtabla)
5pm to 6pm Pradhanica (Instrumental):Jin Won (Kathak), Mike Lukshis (tabla), Kaumil Shah (djembe), and Vincent Pierce (cajon).
6pm to 7pm Yacouba Sissoko (Kora) Jay Gandhi (Bansuri): David Ellenbogen (guitar)
7pm to 8pm Pandit Krishna Bhatt (sitar) and Nitin Mitta (tabla)
8pm to 9pm Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumdar (sarod) and Nitin Mitta (tabla)
9pm to 10pm Sanghamitra Chatterjee (vocal) with Samir Chatterjee (tabla) and Tabla Duet Samir Chatterjee & Tejas Tope
10pm to 11pm Ustad Aashish Khan (Sarod), Anupam Shobhakar (Sarod) & Dan Weiss (tabla)
11pm-midnight Pandita Tripti Mukherjee (vocal), Samir Chatterjee (tabla)
SUNDAY JUNE 21st: 1:30pm to 8pm Ragas Live: A solstice summer of Indian Music in Central Park, Venue: Central Park Dairy, Lawn MidPark
65 Street (Entrance on 59 Street/6Ave).
1:30PM Introductory Tabla / Indian Rhythms Workshop from North India (taught by Mike Lukshis / Taalim School)
2 to 3:30PM : Indian Classical Drum Circle (facilitated by Mike Lukshis / Taalim School) All ages and playing levels welcome.
4PM Taalim Youth Tabla Ensemble
4:15 to 5:15PM: Navatman Music Collective
5:45PM Arun Ramamurthy Trio (ART) Presented by Brooklyn Raga Massive
7:15PM: Shankar Tucker Ensemble