The 38th annual Humanities Music Festival will showcase a variety of Western and Eastern styles, ranging from reggae and church choirs to the music of Mozart as well as Indian classical music performed by Aloke Dasgupta on sitar and Mrinal Bhattacharya on tabla.
Dasgupta, who is known for being one of the most technically sound sitar players in the West, has a music style with an uncanny resemblance to Pandit Nikhil Banerjee. After attaining a master’s degree in ethnomusicology from San Diego State University, Dasgupta founded the Raga Ranjani School of Music in Los Angeles.
Dasgupta’s desire to incorporate the sitar into Western music has created a niche style that has become popular in recent times. “I’ve worked the sitar into rock and jazz music styles,” he says. “The sitar is not an alien instrument anymore.”
Dasgupta has played the Lincoln Center in New York, played at the Beatles’ 40th anniversary, performed for Ozzy Osborne’s 50th birthday, and was featured in the No Doubt song “Hey Ya.” He has also played with the L.A.
Philharmonics at the Hollywood Bowl. More recently, he appeared on Disney Channel’s “The Suite Life of Zach and Cody.” In addition, Dasgupta has composed jingles for many TV ads, the Twix commercial being perhaps the most noteworthy.
At the festival, the sitar player will be playing a mix of music. “I will be performing pure Indian classical music at the festival,” he says, “but I will also be playing some Western popular songs towards the end.” Included in the last part of his set will be some music from his CD Christmas in Calcutta—a collection of popular Christmas carols that have been reworked with the use of the sitar and tabla. Proceeds from album sales go to to the Children’s Hunger Society.
“The festival brings the community together to pray for unity for Los Angeles and of course, the greater world,” says Dasgupta. “We look to advocate peace through music.”
Saturday, June 6, 7:30 p.m. Agape Hall, The Ann Ree Colton Foundation of Niscience, 336 W. Colorado St., Glendale. Free. (818) 244-0113, (310) 489-5760. www.niscience.org/humanitesflyer2009.htm.