Annual Letters

Annual Letter –  November 2016

Celebrating five years

 

Dhrupad Music Institute of America (DMIA)
attn:  Shubha Sankaran
1730 C Street NE
Washington, DC  20002-6661
Website:  www.dhrupad.com
e-mail:  dhrupadamerica@gmail.com
1 November 2016

Dear Friends of DMIA—

 

This letter is in felicitous celebration of the completion of DMIA’s fifth year of existence since our official establishment as a non-profit educational and cultural foundation in September 2011.

During this time, we have organized numerous successful operations covering a wide range of activities.  But before summarizing our achievements, let me wholeheartedly thank all of you who have made it possible for us to sponsor many wonderful events.  Without your generous commitment and contributions in a variety of areas—financial, logistical, strategic, and simply coming to listen—we would have not been able to complete our distinguished record of service to the cause of Dhrupad in the U.S.

In terms of the operations of DMIA, we are very happy to have established a Board with members—all actively involved in Indian classical music—from across the full geographical range of the United States, covering New England, New York, the Mid-Atlantic, the Midwest, California, and the Pacific Northwest (see our list of Board members, with brief bios, at dhrupad.com/about-dmia).  Our Board members bring to the table professional skills from a variety of disciplines to further DMIA’s activities.

As part of our support system, we continue to depend upon the expertise of our distinguished Advisory Crcle, and to expand our network of Honorary Members who currently reside in 51 cities in 20 states in the U.S. (plus the District of Columbia), as well as five cities in three Canadian provinces, and in one city in the U.K.  And at this time let me extend a particular welcome to those Honorary Members who have joined us in 2016, and to express my gratitude to all our Honorary Members who have supported us in the past.
Given the breadth of our activities, let me summarize, as briefly as possible, our accomplishments to date, and I encourage you all to browse through our extensive Website for further details:
As a reminder at this point, DMIA’s mission (as stated on our dhrupad.com home page) is “to promote, propagate, encourage, and support the performance and teaching of the oldest form of Indian classical music, known as Dhrupad.”

 

The educational aspects of our mission

 

Probably our most significant achievement in fulfilling our goals in this area has been in conducting four annual “Dhrupad Days” festivals, comprised of intensive workshops presented by the renowned Gundecha Brothers, and performances by them and other artists, over several days in Seattle, in collaboration with Cornish College (to which we provided funding for up to fifteen scholarships for participants), from 2013-2016.  This year (2016) DMIA sponsored a new Dhrupad Days workshop in Wayne, New Jersey, in collaboration with William Patterson University.  A Dhrupad Days festival was also conducted for the first time in 2016 in Montreal, Canada, in conjunction with Université du Québec. The richness of the Dhrupad Days offerings will be evident at dhrupad.com/dhrupad-days, and the dates for our four 2017 festivals (this year we’re adding Boston to the previous three locations) may be found there as well.

Another pair of workshops, “Dhrupad Bhakti”, exploring religious continuities with Dhrupad, was conducted in 2015 in Redmond, Washington, at the Hindu Lakshmi Venkateswara Temple, and in Marysville, Washington, at the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple; see dhrupad.com/dhrupad-bhakti-event.

DMIA also made a dedicated effort this year to bring Supriya Maitra, a senior disciple of the Gundecha Brothers, as a resident Dhrupad Visiting Artist from India to the U.S., but due to circumstances entirely beyond our control, we were unable to achieve this goal.  Nonetheless, Supriya is available for Skype lessons (dhrupad.com/services/supriya-maitra-dmia-visiting-artist), and we are continuing our efforts to bring him to the U.S. in 2017.

Finally, to round off our educational component, Board member Brian Q. Silver presented a pre-concert lecture on Dhrupad at the 2016 concert in New York City by the Gundecha Brothers (as a possible precedent for future efforts), and DMIA now facilitates long-distance learning of Dhrupad with the Dhrupad Sansthan in Bhopal (of which more later); see dhrupad.com/services/education.

The performance aspects of our mission

Here, DMIA is proud to have directly sponsored two tours by younger performers of Dhrupad:

In 2012:  “The Indo-Pak Friendship Tour”, featuring vocalists Aliya Rasheed of Pakistan and Amita Sinha Mahapatra of Indiaaccompanied on pakhawaj by Sukhad Munde of India, and appearing in 13 cities; this tour was particularly noteworthy as our ground-breaking concert programming effort, not only in presenting two female vocalists—a distinct rarity in Dhrupad—as well as in linking the two countries of Pakistan and India.

 

In 2013:  “The Meditative Dhrupad Music of India Spans the Globe”, by vocalists Inoue Sou of Japan and Branan Dubh of Australia, accompanied on pakhawaj by Dnyaneshwar Deshmukh of India, appearing in nine concerts in eight cities; this tour, as well, broke new ground in presenting as featured soloists two artists from outside India.

 

Then, in 2015, DMIA facilitated the “The New World Dhrupad Tour”, featuring vocalists Payton MacDonald and, again, Branan Dubh, accompanied by Peter Fagiola on pakhawaj, appearing in 11 concerts; this tour continues our tradition of diversification, given that both Payton MacDonald and Peter Fagiola are American-born artists.

 

In addition, DMIA facilitated four U.S. tours by the Gundecha Brothers, and directly presented their concerts, among other venues, at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC., and hosted their performances as an integral part of the Dhrupad Days festivals.  Other Dhrupad musicians presented in Dhrupad Days have included the distinguished vocalist Pandit Uday Bhawalkar, accompanied on the Pakhawaj by Pratap Awad,  the Samvad duo, Igino Giovanni Brunori and Virginia Nicoli, American-born instrumentalists Nancy Lesh (currently living in India) and Jodi Stecher.  An additional Dhrupad concert co-sponsored by DMIA was presented in Washington, DC, by vocalist Pandit Nirmalya Dey and pakhawaj master Pandit Mohan Shyam Sharma, both distinguished artists from India.  

 

Another exciting aspect of DMIA’s performance sponsorship, sometimes featuring Dhrupad but also extending into other genres of Indian classical music, has been the Shadaj Series in Seattle, with several performances each year by a range of artists, both senior and junior, from India and the U.S.  Dhrupad artists in this series have included Seattle-based Shanta Benegal and Annie Penta (vocal), and Jeff Lewis (rudra vina), and vocalists Meghana Sardar and Sunita Amin from India.  We are particularly fortunate to have U.S.-based artist Chaz Hastings as pakhawaj accompanist for these Dhrupad concerts. The Shadaj Series has been organized by a dedicated volunteer group in Seattle, and facilitated  by DMIA Board member Vibhavaree Gargeya (who has also been the formidable moving force behind all four Dhrupad Days festivals); see dhrupad.com/chapters/seattle/shadaj-past-events.

The DMIA/Dhrupad Sansthan collaboration

And now, in an effort to strengthen our mission of promoting Dhrupad within the U.S., DMIA has embarked on a bilateral project to reciprocate the integral and invaluable support that the Gundecha Brothers and their Dhrupad Sansthan in Bhopal (dhrupad.org) have provided in the activities of our first five years by co-sponsoring tours, teaching and performing in the various Dhrupad Days workshops and concerts, and publicizing DMIA activities in their numerous American concert appearances.  This project involves financial support to the Dhrupad Sansthan in recognition of its past sponsorship of the young performer tours noted above, and its past training of many American students (including participants in a William Patterson University Study Abroad Program in 2015), as well as its continuing efforts to accommodate such students in the future.  One aspect of this support has included a modest contribution toward the construction of several studio apartments for the students in Bhopal as part of the Dhrupad Sansthan’s major self-funded expansion.

 * * * * * * *
In this letter I have wanted to focus primarily upon celebrating our achievements; however, none of our accomplishments would have been possible without financial support. In that regard, I am pleased to announce that DMIA has expanded its fundraising capabilities to include an option for direct online donations either through PayPal or credit card (go to dhrupad.com/donate).

We are also grateful to Amazon.com for providing an additional avenue for supporting non-profit organizations in a small but cumulatively significant mechanism by providing DMIA with a dedicated AmazonSmile Website for shopping in a way that benefits us:
smile.amazon.com/ch/45-3336298
When signing on directly to this link (and not to your old Amazon URL) for making purchases with your username and Amazon password, AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible items directly to DMIA at no additional cost to you.
As for the details of our Campaign 2016, we will be sending out a separate letter to ask for your support.  In the meantime, please join us in celebrating all of DMIA’s achievements—yours and ours—in the cause of Dhrupad.
With warmest regards,
Shubha Sankaran
President

P.S.  More formal references to DMIA activities have been provided above in links to the official DMIA Website, dhrupad.com.  But it is well worth noting that our Facebook page
facebook.com/dhrupadamerica
provides a vehicle for more informal interaction among DMIA followers as well as with members of the global musical community.

Annual Letter – March 2015

Dhrupad Music Institute of America (DMIA)
attn:  Shubha Sankaran
1730 C Street NE
Washington, DC  20002-6661
Website:  www.dhrupad.com
e-mail:  dhrupadamerica@gmail.com
20 March 2015

Dear Friends of DMIA—

First of all, let me, along with the members of the DMIA Board, share our wishes that the new year of 2015 is going well for you, and while those of us in Washington await the coming of the cherry blossoms, let us together celebrate the first day of spring.

Once again, we would like to express our great appreciation of your continuing support in a variety of ways, whether through contributions, logistical assistance, volunteer activities, or by attending and participating in our various events during the past year.

For those of you who assisted DMIA financially, we have acknowledged this in e-mail letters directly to you confirming, for your 2014 tax records, your tax-deductible contribution.  If by chance you did contribute to DMIA in 2014 but did not receive an e-mail receipt (which may have gone astray due to any of several reasons), please do contact me directly by e-mail to surbahar@aol.com so that we can re-send our letter confirming your contribution.

First, an update on our achievements since my last letter to you:  2014 has indeed been a very productive year for DMIA.  Our activities have included the sponsorship of a rich set of events, particularly a very successful sequence of workshops and concerts in Seattle during Dhrupad Days 2014 (see dhrupad.com/dhrupad-days/dhrupad-days-2014/), including a concert by Dhrupad cellist Nancy Lesh Kulkarni, accompanied by Akhilesh Gundecha on the pakhawaj (see dhrupad.com/dhrupad-on-the-cello/.  Also in 2014, DMIA facilitated an equally successful 14-city North American tour by the Gundecha Brothers, with 12 concerts in the U.S. and two in Canada—see dhrupad.com/gundecha-brothers-us-tour/.

We are also happy to announce the formation of a Seattle Chapter of DMIA, which during the course of the year has organized three classical Indian music concerts in the Shadaj Series.  The autumn of 2014 included a sarod performance and workshop by Pandit Partho Sarathy, and an evening jugalbandi (duet) by Seattle-based musicians Brandon McIntosh (sarod) and Satyajit Limaye (bamboo flute), with Chaz Hastings on tabla (see dhrupad.com/chapters/seattle/shadaj-past-events/.

The end of March 2015 will also feature, as the third event in the Shadaj Series, a workshop on Indian music, as well as a Hindustani vocal performance, by Dr. Amit Arya, accompanied on harmonium by Mohan Bhide and on tabla by Chaz Hastings, with an opening vocal solo by Seattle artist Priya Bondre (see dhrupad.com/chapters/seattle/).

We plan to use the Seattle chapter as a model for possible future expansion of Dhrupad activities elsewhere in the U.S.

We did suffer one significant setback this year:  the forced cancellation of the Fall 2014 Bihar Brothers concert tour due to the denial of visas by the interviewing Consular officer in India, despite the fact that the USCIS office in the U.S. had approved the application and forwarded it to India for final action; for further information, see www.americanbazaaronline.com/2014/10/29/us-embassy-india-denies-visas-dhrupad-music-exponents-bihar-brothers-perform-8-city-concert/.  We do hope that we can arrange a tour by these talented young musicians at some point in the future.

We are already well along in the planning of our third annual festival, Dhrupad Days 2015, in May of this year, again in Seattle and at Cornish College—see dhrupad.com/dhrupad-days/dhrupad-days-2015/.

DMIA will present two three-day intensive workshops conducted by the Gundecha Brothers: a singing workshop for vocalists and instrumentalists, and a rhythm workshop primarily for percussionists, but also for vocalists and instrumentalists as well.  And for the first time this year, DMIA is pleased to sponsor scholarships for ten workshop attendees, to cover a portion of the workshop fees, and to assist those who need financial support in participating.

Performances will include a concert by leading Dhrupad singer Pandit Uday Bhawalkar; a lecture demonstration and vocal performance by Dr. Payton MacDonald; a Carnatic violin concert by Shri Raman Iyer; and a “Sound in Unison” concert by Padmashri Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha (vocal), Virginia Nicoli (silver flute), Igino Giovanni Brunori (saxophone), and Pandit Akhilesh Gundecha (pakhawaj).  Expanding beyond pure Dhrupad, this year’s festival will also feature both a concert and a workshop in the Sikh genre of kirtan (related in many ways to Dhrupad) by the Gundecha Brothers.

The other major activity for 2015 in which DMIA is involved is the U.S.-wide tour of the “Sound in Unison” ensemble—with the Gundecha Brothers and Igino Brunori and Virginia Nicoli.  A full schedule of concerts by the group will be posted subsequently on the dhrupad.com website.

Finally, we want again to thank you again for your numerous and generous contributions to DMIA in 2014 and the three previous years, and DMIA will welcome your remembering us again financially during our upcoming Campaign 2015—Labor Day through Thanksgiving—details of which will be announced presently on dhrupad.com and in a subsequent e-mail notice.

With warmest regards,

Shubha Sankaran
President, DMIA

Annual Letter – January 2014

Dhrupad Music Institute of America (DMIA)
attn:  Shubha Sankaran
1730 C Street NE
Washington, DC  20002-6661
Website:  www.dhrupad.com
e-mail:  dhrupadamerica@gmail.com
26 January 2014

Dear Friends of DMIA—

First of all, let me, along with the members of the Board, wish you the happiest of New Years for 2014.

This year, in addition to expressing our great appreciation of your continuing support, we are very happy to announce that as of 20 September 2013, DMIA has been granted 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the US-IRS.  This means that not only are all donations made in 2013 tax-deductible, but that contributions made since our incorporation on 12 September 2011 in the District of Columbia may also be deducted on your income tax return.  We have sent out letters of acknowledgement to all contributors since 2011 (advising those who gave in previous years to consult their tax specialists for procedural advice for claiming prior year’s deductions).  If by chance you made a contribution to DMIA but did not receive a letter of acknowledgment (many notices were sent out by e-mail, which in some cases may have gone astray due to any of several reasons), please do contact me directly so that we can send you a letter confirming your contribution.

Furthermore, we are very happy to announce the addition of Rohit Singh, a venerable veteran of the causes of Indian classical music in general, and Dhrupad in particular, to the DMIA Board.  As the previous moving force in SPIC-MACAY in the U.S. for a number of years, Rohit brings a wealth of experience in both administration and program presentation, as well as uniquely honed senses of reality and humor to our efforts.

In terms of DMIA’s activities, the past year has included the sponsorship of a rich set of events, particularly a very successful sequence of workshops and concerts in Dhrupad Days 2013 (see dhrupad.com/dhrupad-days/dhrupad-days-2013), as well as an equally successful U.S.-wide November tour by three of the younger generation of Dhrupad performers, vocalists Branan Dubh of Australia and Inoue Sou of Japan, along with Dnyaneshwar Deshmukh of Bhopal on pakhawaj—all trained at the Dhrupad Sansthan in Bhopal (see dhrupad.com/the-meditative-dhrupad-music-of-india-spans-the-globe.)

We are already well along in the planning of the forthcoming Dhrupad Days 2014 in May of this year, again in Seattle—for the developing details of which see dhrupad.com/dhrupad-days/dhrupad-days-2014.  Stay tuned for further exciting developments.

The other major activity for 2014 in which DMIA is involved is the U.S.-wide tour of the Gundecha Brothers, with a major DMIA co-sponsored event planned in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, involving both a concert and a pre-concert educational seminar. Details of this program—along with the full schedule of nationwide concerts by the Gundecha Brothers—will be posted subsequently on the dhrupad.com Website, which continues to develop a wide range of Dhrupad-related resources.

Finally, we want again to thank you for your numerous and generous contributions to DMIA in 2013 and the two years past—and DMIA will welcome your remembering us again during our upcoming Campaign 2014, details of which will be announced presently on dhrupad.com and in a subsequent e-mail notice.

With warmest regards,

Shubha Sankaran
President, DMIA

 


Annual Letter – January 2013

January 6, 2013
Dear Friends of DMIA–

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to our circle of supporters of Dhrupad in the U.S., and also wish you the best for the New Year, particularly now that it appears we will not be falling over the fiscal cliff.

During the past year we have taken major steps in establishing DMIA as a force for promoting Dhrupad in the U.S., and hope in the very near future to have our official status as a tax-exempt organization.  A highlight of the past year was our sponsorship of an inaugural DMIA concert by the Gundecha Brothers here in Washington at the home of Dr. Anil and Annu Sharma.  We were also proud to facilitate the first American tour by female Dhrupad vocalists, Amita Sinha Mahapatra of India, and Aliya Rasheed of Pakistan, who were accompanied on pakhawaj by Sukhad Munde.

Plans for the coming year include “Dhrupad Days”, a gathering in Seattle consisting of a Dhrupad workshop conducted by the Gundecha Brothers at Cornish College from 24 to 28 June 2013, a DMIA workshop from 4 to 6 July, and a Day of Dhrupad on 7 July; the latter will include participant performances, and possible lectures about Dhrupad.  In addition, we plan the second annual U.S. tour by outstanding senior students of the Dhrupad Sansthan in Bhopal.

Please do browse our evolving Website, www.dhrupad.com, to see the progress we are making in sharing information about Dhrupad, its history and those who perform it, as well as details of the organization.

Again, with thanks for your support and interest.
Shubha Sankaran
President, DMIA

 

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