Saturday 11:30-12:00, UPSTAIRS THEATRE

Panelists :  Chetan, Sandip Bhattacharjee, Susmita Chakraborty, Shivali Bhammer and Niloufar Noorbaksh 

Moderator : Shubhra Prakash

How does music reflect contemporary sensibilities? Musicians and singers from different disciplines talk about their approach to music (composition, singing, and arrangement) and how they attempt to keep traditions alive, while still doing innovative work.

Chetan Davdra : 

Originally from London, Chetz is an ensemble keyboard player, composer and producer. He has been playing Keyboard and Piano as a freelancer for over 15 years, and has worked with renowned artists from the UK, India, US, and Canada. He has scored music for theatre productions, and composed and produced singles and albums for artist from both sides of the Atlantic. Although having a deep passion for music with roots from the subcontinent, his style of music is cross genre, from East to West, classical to commercial, creating his own sounds and fusions. 
Now based in Jersey City Chetz is a part of an award-winning band and production house, Rhythm Tolee, who perform a wide variety of songs by fusing Indian Folk and Sufi music with western sounds. The band was recently awarded with the Audience Award at the first South Asian International Performing Arts Festival held in Tribeca, which was covered by major media outlets, including The Huffington Post and Express Tribune.

Sandip Bhattacharjee : 

Sandip was born into a family with a deep rooted love for music. He was initiated into music by his mother Smt. Krishna Bhattacharjee at the age of four and he continued his talim under Smt. Amita Dasgupta later.  At the age of sixteen, Sandip began his talim at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy under the distinguished guidance of Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan and Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan, sons and disciples of the late legendary Sarangi Maestro Padmashree Ustad Shakoor Khan. In 2003 he joined ITC-SRA as a residential scholar and in 2013 he became an acknowledged musician at the academy.

Under both his gurus, Sandip was nurtured in the true guru shishya parampara system of training in the Kirana Gharana. Sandip has accomplished a rare feat: he has lived up to the promise and talent he showed as a child prodigy. Although he does not come from the family lineage of Kirana Gharana, Sandip has become a respected proponent of that gayaki style through his training and hard work.

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Susmita Chakraborty :

Susmita has been singing since the age of five. She has participated in and won numerous vocal competitions; she has a lot of performance experience.  Susmita received ten years of Hindustani classical vocal training from Tandra Ghoshal ; afterwards, she learned from Pt. Jayanta Bose who is admired as a versatile genius in the global field of music (Vocal, Harmonium & Tabla) and still learning from Bidushi Suranjana Bose who is “Top grade “ Radio Artist in India.  Susmita has also learned other forms of vocal music (Semi-Classical/Light, Najrul Geeti, old Hindi film songs,Bhajans, Ghazal and Thumri) from several respected teachers. Additionally, she enjoys singing regional songs from her native Bengal. She learned Bengali modern songs from the renowned vocalist Haimanti Shukla and Najrulgeeti from Swapna Kanjilal.

In 2002, Susmita recorded a song (“Akash Dake Aaj”) for a travel tv show .  

In 2010, she released a solo Bengali modern song album (“Megh Mon Chuye Jaye”) which was released by Raga Music. 

In 2013, she released an album entitled “Gunjan” as part of a group.

In 2014, she released a solo album aptly called “Shraddhanjali” comprised of old classic Hindi songs

In 2014, she toured the USA (NYC, NJ, Chicago, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Washington DC etc.) for musical performances.

In 2015, she released a solo album called “Tribute to Lata Mangeshkar” comprised of old classic Hindi songs of Lataji

In 2015 , she has recorded song for an upcoming Hindi Movie “ Anokhi Raat”

Shivali Bhammer : 

Shivali was born and brought up in London, where, despite having a Western upbringing, she was familiar with Hindu shlokas and mantras at the age of 3. She went on to graduate in Economics and Philosophy and embarked on an investment-banking career as a summer analyst at Goldman Sachs. She has written for the Financial Times, the Orange County Register and other prominent newspapers and publications. At 22, Shivali was signed by Sony Music BMG and was commended for her innovation in creating a niche market of modern contemporary bhajans (devotional music). She began active involvement in music with her producer Arjun Coomaraswamy at the age of 15, and together created what would become “The Bhajan Project,” an array of devotional songs coupled with a fresh modern sound comprising of mainly acoustic guitar and Eastern influences. Shivali deeply desired to bring bhajans to the forefront of society and has since then become U.K.’s youngest and biggest Asian devotional singer. The Bhajan Project was nominated for best debut and best fusion album at the Global Indian Music awards. Shivali then went onto release “Urban Temple” by Eros Music in 2012. This album went on to reach no. 1 on the iTunes World Chart. The press have often referred to Shivali as the “devotional diva,” and she has been featured across newspapers in India (The Times of India, Mumbai Mirror, DNA Mumbai, to name but a few ) and papers and magazines across Asia, Europe and the U.S. The young star has also assisted the BBC radio in providing insight into Hindu festivals and was featured in the BBC3 documentary on the Kumbh Mela. The devotional singer was awarded a First in her Kathak (classical Indian dance) diploma, studying under Abhay Shankar Mishra at the prestigious Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan. She is also a Latin dancer and received distinction in all ballet grades 1-8. She has a diploma in acting from the New York Film Academy, has accomplished Grade 6 in Speech & Drama by the Guildhall School of Speech and Drama, and is currently studying acting under Bruce Ornstein in New York. Her recent work involves playing the main role as a comedian in the ‘Love Actually’ play in Shaw Theatre in 2014. Shivali is also currently working on her first English album ‘State 108,’ which she wrote herself and will release later in 2015 in association with MatchBox Records. At her core she remains a performer, eager to take her audience to the deepest corners of their souls. She has performed at distinguished venues around the world, for the London Mayor and in the Houses of Parliament and in front of audiences as large as 50,000. Whether she be dancing, singing or acting Shivali is remembered fondly for her charm, humour and powerful presence.

Niloufar Noorbaksh : 

Born and raised in Iran, Niloufar Nourbakhsh is a music graduate and a Global Citizen Scholarship recipient of Goucher College as well as a Mahoney and Caplan Scholar from University of Oxford, where she studied Mathematics and Music Composition. She has participated in numerous festivals as a pianist and a composer including New Paltz Piano summer, Atlantic Music Festival, and Seal Bay Festival of American Chamber Music. Among her teachers are Arash Abbasi, Lisa Weiss, Laura Kaminsky, and Sheila Silver. Nilou is currently pursuing her master’s degree in music composition at Stony Brook University. Nilou is also a strong advocate of music education. In 2014, she has worked as an administrative director of Brooklyn Middle School Jazz Academy sponsored by Jazz at Lincoln Center. She currently teaches piano at Brooklyn Music School and composes little songs in Farsi for children of Pardis institute as well as working intensely on her upcoming opera: “88888888”



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