Stephen O’Malley

Pandit Pran Nath

Posted: Oct 27, 2008

Pandit Pran Nath

Pandit Pran Nath 90th Birthday Memorial Tribute Concert

Concert of Pre-recorded Tapes
Pandit Pran Nath performing
Evening Ragas
live commentary by
La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela

Saturday, November 1, 2008, 7 pm
MELA Foundation Dream House
275 Church Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10013
Between Franklin & White Streets in Tribeca
Admission $16. MELA Members, Seniors, Student ID, $12.
Limited seating. Reservations recommended.
212-219-3019 or 212-925-8270.

In honor of Pandit Pran Nath's 90th Birthday and in celebration of his extraordinary life and work, MELA Foundation is presenting a concert of tapes of Pandit Pran Nath performing Evening Ragas on Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 7 pm in the MELA Dream House, 275 Church Street, 3rd floor. The concert is curated by La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, who will present commentary on the music during the event. The concert will continue for several hours.

Pandit Pran Nath, who passed away on June 13, 1996, virtually introduced the vocal tradition of North Indian classical music to the West in 1970. He studied for twenty years as a disciple of Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan, the foremost master of the Kirana gharana. Pran Nath's 1971 morning performance at Town Hall, New York City, was the first concert of morning ragas to be presented in the U.S. Subsequently, he introduced and elaborated to Western audiences the concept of performing ragas at the proper time of day by scheduling entire series of concerts at special hours. Many students and professional musicians came to him in America to learn about the vast system of raga and to improve their musicianship. In 1972, Pran Nath established his own school in New York City under the direction of his disciples La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, the Kirana Center for Indian Classical Music, now a project of MELA Foundation. Over the years he performed hundreds of concerts in the West, scores of them in New York City, and in Fall 1993, he inaugurated the MELA Foundation Dream House with three Raga Cycle concerts. He continued to perform here annually during his remaining years and on May 12 and 17, 1996, his two concerts of Afternoon and Evening Ragas in the Dream House were his last public performances.

Pran Nath's majestic expositions of the slow alap sections of ragas combined with his emphasis on perfect intonation and the clear evocation of mood had a profound impact on Western contemporary composers and performers. In addition to Young and Zazeela, minimalist music composer Terry Riley became one of his first American disciples, to be followed by Sufi Pir Shabda Kahn. Fourth-world trumpeter Jon Hassell, jazz all‑stars Don Cherry and Lee Konitz, composers Jon Gibson, Yoshimasa Wada, Rhys Chatham, Michael Harrison and Allaudin Mathieu, mathematician and composer Christer Hennix, concept artist and violinist Henry Flynt, dancer Simone Forti, and many others took the opportunity to study with the master.

La Monte Young pioneered the concept of extended time durations for over 50 years, contributed extensively to the development of just intonation and rational number based tuning systems in his performance works and the periodic composite sound waveform environments of the Dream House collaborations with Marian Zazeela, and had a wide-ranging influence on contemporary music, art and philosophy. As the first Western disciple of renowned master vocalist Pandit Pran Nath, Young has performed and taught the Kirana style of Indian classical music since 1970. He accompanied Pandit Pran Nath in hundreds of concerts throughout the world. In June 2002, the title of Khan Sahib was conferred upon Young by Ustad Hafizullah Khan Sahib, the Khalifa of the Kirana Gharana and son of Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan Sahib. In Summer 2002, Young and Zazeela founded The Just Alap Raga Ensemble, which features extended alap sections and sustained vocal drones in just intonation over tamburas and is now Young’s primary compositional and performance vehicle, presenting annual concert series at the MELA Dream House. "For the past quarter of a century he [Young] has been the most influential composer in America. Maybe in the world." (Los Angeles Herald Examiner, 1985). "As the acknowledged father of minimalism and guru emeritus to the British art-rock school, his influence is pervasive" (Musician magazine, 1986). “Young is now widely recognized as the originator of the most influential classical music style of the final third of the twentieth century.” (Strickland, Minimalism:Origins, 1993). “La Monte Young: Le Son du Siècle.” (L’Express L’An 2000 Supplement, 1999).

Marian Zazeela is one of the first contemporary artists to use light as a medium of expression. Expanding the traditional concepts of painting and sculpture while incorporating elements of both disciplines, she developed an innovative visual language in the medium of light by combining colored light mixtures with sculptural forms to create seemingly three-dimensional colored shadows in radiant vibrational fields. Zazeela began singing in 1962 with La Monte Young as a founding member of The Theatre of Eternal Music, and performed as vocalist in almost every concert of the ensemble to date, in addition to creating the visual components of Dream House, their collaborative sound and light work. Her major work, The Magenta Lights, has been described in Art Forum as representing “the subtle relationship between precision and spirituality. [She] transforms material into pure and intense color sensations, and makes a perceptual encounter a spiritual experience." With Young in 1970, she brought Pandit Pran Nath to the U.S. and became one of his first Western disciples. She has since performed and taught the Kirana style of Indian classical music and accompanied Pandit Pran Nath in hundreds of concerts throughout the world. Zazeela created light environments for Pandit Pran Nath's performances of Morning, Afternoon, Sunset and Evening Ragas and her distinctive calligraphic style appears on many of Pran Nath’s concert posters and recordings. Zazeela continues to perform with Young in their Just Alap Raga Ensemble.

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MELA's programs are made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency and generous contributions from individuals and MELA Members.

MELA Foundation, Inc.
275 Church Street
New York, NY 10013