Stephen O’Malley

Just Alap

Posted: Oct 25, 2009

The Just Alap Raga Ensemble featuring La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela and Jung Hee Choi, voices, will perform the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra in Raga Sindh Bhairavi accompanied by The Tamburas of Pandit Pran Nath from the Just Dreams CD, as the opening musical offering at the memorial celebration for Merce Cunningham’s life and work on Wednesday, October 28, 2009 from 4 – 4:20 pm. The memorial, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Avenue between 66th and 67th Streets, from 4 to 9 pm. Please note that space at the Armory is limited. Guests will be accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis, no reservations required.

After The Just Alap Raga Ensemble performance ends at 4:20 pm, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company will perform “Events” and other Cunningham dances will be featured, as well as presentations by the MCDC Music Committee, additional artists and former company members. Further information and a complete program listing can be found online at

John Cage selected La Monte Young's radical work 2 Sounds (April 1960) to accompany one of Merce Cunningham's most forward looking dances, Winterbranch, with lighting by Robert Rauschenberg. The Merce Cunningham Dance Company toured extensively with this work and performed it throughout the world from 1964 on. Merce was a member of the MELA Foundation Advisory Board.

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.”

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," noted: “He [Young] is a master of Hindustani classical music. … 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.”

For further information about The Just Alap Raga Ensemble visit