Ideologic

Ideologic

Stephen O’Malley

JUST ALAP

Posted: Jun 16, 2008

The Just Alap Raga Ensemble

Pandit Pran Nath 12th Anniversary Memorial Tribute

Two Concerts in the MELA Dream House
Friday Evenings, June 20 and 27, 2008, 9 pm

La Monte Young, voice
Marian Zazeela, voice
Jung Hee Choi, voice
Da'ud Constant, voice
Charles Curtis, cello
Jon Catler, fretless sustainer guitar
Naren Budhkar, tabla
The Tamburas of Pandit Pran Nath from the Just Dreams CD

MELA Foundation Dream House
275 Church Street, 3rd Floor, between Franklin & White Streets in Tribeca
Friday Evenings, June 20 and 27, 2008, 9 pm
Admission $24. MELA Members, Seniors, Student ID, $18.
Limited seating. Advance reservations recommended.
Info and reservations: 212-219-3019; mail@melafoundation.org

Two Concerts of Evening Ragas in the contemporary Kirana gharana (style) of North Indian Classical Music will be performed by La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela with The Just Alap Raga Ensemble in a memorial tribute to Pandit Pran Nath on the 12th anniversary of his passing, Friday Evenings, June 20 and 27 at 9 pm in the MELA Foundation Dream House light environment, 275 Church Street, 3rd Floor. PLEASE NOTE: Dream House is closed for the season; we will reopen in September.

La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela will be accompanied by Jung Hee Choi and Da'ud Constant, voices; Charles Curtis, cello; Jon Catler, fretless sustainer guitar; Naren Budhkar, tabla; and The Tamburas of Pandit Pran Nath from the Just Dreams CD. The Just Alap ensemble will perform a composition by La Monte Young featuring extended alap sections and sustained vocal and instrumental drones in just intonation over tamburas.

Pandit Pran Nath has said, "Alap is the essence of Raga. When the drut [faster tempo] begins, the Raga is finished." With The Just Alap Raga Ensemble, La Monte Young applies his own compositional approach to traditional raga performance, form and technique: a pranam (bow) of gratitude in reciprocation for the influence on his music, since the mid-fifties, of the unique, slow, unmetered timeless alap, and for one of the most ancient and evolved vocal traditions extant today. Young and Zazeela premiered this ensemble on August 22, 2002 in a memorial tribute to Ustad Hafizullah Khan, the Khalifa of the Kirana Gharana and son of Pandit Pran Nath’s teacher, Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan Sahib.

Pandit Pran Nath virtually introduced the vocal tradition of North Indian classical music to the West in 1970. His 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 Pran Nath 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 before he passed away on June 13, 1996.

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. Following Young and Zazeela, minimalist music composer Terry Riley became one of his first American disciples. 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, Sufi Pir Shabda Kahn, 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.

In The Hindustan Times (2003), Shanta Serbjeet Singh wrote:

“[Young and Zazeela] would create works like the “Just Alap Raga Ensemble” which would amaze musicians of the caliber of Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Jasraj or the Gundecha brothers were they to hear it. In fact I wish they would hear it and savour their own legacy of Indian classical music in two new ways, one, by way of the Youngs’ immense sadhna and two, by way of the fact that today the great art of Hindustani Shastriya sangeet has actually become so much a part of the world of music. Did not the ancients say: Vasudeva Kumutbhakam—the world is a family? A work like “Just Alap Raga Ensemble” actually proves it.”

In the 2005 article, “TALES OF EXEMPLARY GURU BHAKTI / PRAN NATH, LA MONTE YOUNG AND MARIAN ZAZEELA,” SPIC MACAY (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth) quarterly magazine "The Eye," it is noted:

“He [Young] is a master of Hindustani classical music. … La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, founders of the MELA Foundation Dream House in New York are responsible for having single-handedly introduced vocal Hindustani classical music to America. In 1970 when they brought renowned master vocalist Pandit Pran Nath of the Kirana Gharana to the U.S. and became his first Western disciples, studying with him for twenty-six years in the traditional gurukula manner of living with the guru, Americans and Westerners only had a nodding acquaintance with Indian music, that too, only instrumental music through the performing tours of Pandit Ravi Shankar. Also some introduction to Indian rhythm techniques through the charismatic playing of Pandit Chatur Lal, the tabla player who always accompanied Ravi Shankar through the sixties. But the deep, unfathomable intricacies of Khayal Gayaki and of the whole cosmos of Alap were totally unknown to them. Indeed, as his many American shishyas, most of them practicing musicians themselves, would say later, even unimaginable. … Young and Zazeela, who taught the Kirana style and performed with Pandit Pran Nath since 1970 in hundreds of concerts in India, Iran, Europe and the United States, have continued their Guru’s work in the most exemplary manner. In June 2002, shortly before he died, Khalifa Hafizullah Khan Sahib, Ustad Wahid Khan Sahib’s son and a great sarangi master, conferred on Young the title of Khan Sahib.”

Concert admission is $24 / $18 MELA members; seniors; students with ID. Limited seating. Advance reservations recommended. For further information and reservations, 212-219-3019, email mail@melafoundation.org or visit www.melafoundation.org.

PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT THE CONCERTS WILL BE RECORDED AND AIR CONDITIONING WILL NOT BE USED BECAUSE OF THE NOISE IT PRODUCES ON THE RECORDINGS. THE CONCERTS IN THE DREAM HOUSE CAN BE VERY HOT, HUMID AND WITH LITTLE AIR CIRCULATION. PLEASE ATTEND A FUTURE CONCERT IF YOU ARE OVERLY SENSITIVE TO ANY OF THESE CONDITIONS. DRESS APPROPRIATELY FOR THE HEAT AND HUMIDITY.

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.