The Gundecha Brothers Perform as Part of Cornish Music Series Tonight
The Gundecha Brothers are the most active, world-renowned performers and teachers of the ancient Indian musical vocal genre known as Dhrupad on the global musical scene today. They will perform as part of the Cornish Music Series tonight, May 30, at 7 PM at the Cornish Playhouse. The Cornish Playhouse (formerly Intiman Theatre) is located at 201 Mercer Street, on the grounds of Seattle Center, just north of downtown Seattle.
Tickets for this concert are $25-45 for adults, $20 for seniors (62+), and $20 for students and alumni (with ID). Tickets are available online at www.brownpapertickets.com and by phone at Brown Paper Tickets, 800-838-3006.
Among the signature achievements of the Gundecha Brothers has been their ability to conduct intensive workshops of Indian music abroad. In a brief period of only ten days to two weeks, they prepare a small group of students-with no previous background in Indian music and often with little or no common language-for an accomplished short performance of Dhrupad vocal music, accompanied by the pakhawaj (the North Indian barrel drum). While in Seattle, the Gundecha Brothers will participate in the Summer at Cornish Program, conducting intensive Dhrupad workshops in the week prior to their concert. For more information about the workshops, visit www.cornish.edu/summer/programs/music/ .
The workshops and performance are also part of Dhrupad Days, a music festival organized by The Dhrupad Music Institute of America. For a full schedule of Dhrupad Days events, visit www.dhrupad.com.
About Dhrupad: Dhrupad is the most ancient form of Indian classical music. It is based on the raga (melodic) and tala (rhythmic) systems shared by later Hindustani (northern) and Carnatic (southern) musical genres. Dhrupad is intended to be a deeply spiritual exploration of music, rather than pure entertainment. The distinctiveness of Dhrupad lies in its unique sequential improvisational framework for the melodic, rhythmic and lyrical exploration of a raga. Dhrupad has a very strong emphasis on precision of pitch throughout the performance. A quote attributed to the late Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar illustrates this: "To handle a raga is like walking on an oily surface; your each and every step should be firmly grounded. Correct note positions give you the ability to walk on raga without falling off." Ornamental glides between notes also have a special emphasis, inspired by the most ancient of Indian stringed instruments, the rudra veena. Finally, the use of special syllables during the initial stages of improvisation distinguishes Dhrupad from other forms of Indian classical music.
Due to these characteristics, Dhrupad performances tend to be extended presentations of ragas and talas, using a strictly structured framework that nonetheless provides virtually unlimited opportunities for improvisation. The Gundecha Brothers demonstrate an impressive mastery of this form, earned over three decades of performing and teaching throughout India as well as abroad. Their precise command of pitch and the power of their voices-individually and together-set the stage for a dramatic and absorbing performance.
About the Artists: Born in Ujjain in central India, the Gundecha Brothers were initiated into music by their parents, and all three received conventional university educations while also learning music. The two elder brothers, Umakant and Ramakant, studied intensively at the Dhrupad Kendra in Bhopal, India, with the renowned Dhrupad vocalist, the late Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar, and also with the late Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar, the distinguished performer of the rudra veena (and incidentally, an Artist-in-Residence at the University of Washington in the 1970s and 1980s). Akhilesh, the youngest brother, learned the pakhawaj from the prominent percussionists Pandit Shrikant Mishra and Raja Chhatrapati Singh JuDeo. He regularly performs with his brothers, but he has also accompanied almost all of the major Dhrupad vocalists and instrumentalists of India. All three brothers appear regularly on local and national radio and television. In 2012, Umakant and Ramakant received the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honor awarded by the Indian Government, for their contributions to Indian classical music. Together with Akhilesh, they operate the Dhrupad Sansthan in Bhopal, a unique musical academy patterned on the ancient guru-shishya (teacher-disciple) tradition of education. Their students come from more than 20 countries, as well as India. They have made numerous international tours, visiting more than 25 countries around the globe, and have recorded more than three dozen CDs on various Indian and international labels.
For more information:
On the Gundecha Brothers: dhrupad.org/gundecha-brothers
On what to expect during a Dhrupad concert: dhrupad.com/about-dhrupad/a-program-note-on-dhrupad
On Seattle's long term connection to Dhrupad: srutimag.blogspot.com/2013/06/dhrupad-in-seattle.html
About Cornish College of the Arts: A pioneer in arts education, Cornish College of the Arts sprang from the remarkable vision of Nellie Cornish, a woman determined to cultivate the arts in Seattle when it was scarcely more than a frontier town. Her philosophy of educating the artist through exposure to all the arts was progressive in 1914, and continues to be innovative today. The College offers Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Art, Dance, Design, Performance Production and Theater, a Bachelor of Music degree and an Artist Diploma in Early Music. The College is accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.