In the News

The Justice (October 21, 2008)

Music Department and Mudgal bring India to Brandeis

by Andrea Fineman
Arts Editor

Bagel buyers and computer lab users last Thursday must have been pleasantly surprised to stumble upon a concert of classical Indian music in Shapiro Atrium. The concert, which was an informal preview of the MusicUnitesUS keynote performance Saturday night, featured traditional Hindustani singer Shubha Mudgal and a cast of backing musicians.

Prof. Judith Eissenberg (MUS), an organizer of the MusicUnitesUS series and Lydian String Quartet second violinist, described Mudgal's music as "explor[ing] the hidden passageways of the soul, balancing extraordinary discipline and breathtaking virtuosity with the improvisation of the imagination." Virtuosic is certainly an adjective to describe Mudgal's vocal performance; her voice sounded incredibly rich over the Shapiro Campus Center Atrium's speakers. Mudgal was accompanied by Aneesh Pradhan on tabla, a type of Indian drum, Sudhir Nayak on harmonium, a type of miniature organ, and Murad Ali on sarangi, a stringed instrument like a lute.

Mudgal is known for her performances in the Khyal and Thumri genres. Khyal, literally meaning "thought" in Hindi and Urdu, is a style of vocal music based on improvisation and the expression of emotions. It is derived from medieval Persian music. Thumri is another vocal genre that traditionally involves romantic lyrics in a proto-Hindi language called Braj Bhasha.

The MusicUnitesUS series, which occurs every semester and last spring featured a pair of traditional Chinese musicians, lasts a number of days and this fall included a master class, a film screening, open classes and lectures. The series ends with a keynote Saturday night concert in Slosberg Recital Hall; this year's concert was sold out.

The spring artists-in-residence are Nettle, a band that comprises an American DJ, a Scottish cellist and two Moroccan musicians who combine digital beats and electronic music with North African folksong and Arabic classical traditions.