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Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash to Perform with Bronx Arts Ensemble

Bronx Arts Ensemble (BAE) will present East Meets West Indian artists Amaan Ali Bangash and his brother Ayaan Ali Bangash, along with members of BAE will perform a concert designed to weave together the cultures of the East and West. According to Ayaan, the aim is to “joyfully explore the common musical ‘DNA’ of both traditions.”

The Bangash brothers will perform on the sarod, a large string instrument similar to the sitar; it is a member of the lute family, indigenous to Hindustani classical music. A third player, Amit Kavthekar, performs on tabla, a pair of small, single-headed drums held between the legs. BAE members include violinists Jorge Ávila and Francisca Mendoza, violist Sally Shumway, cellist Eliana Mendoza, flutist Theresa Norris, and bassoonist Atsuko Sato.

All the musicians will perform Samaagam (Sanskrit meaning confluence or flowing together), a new piece composed by the Bangashs. According to Ayaan, “We worked to preserve the essence of both Indian and Western musical traditions so that they can both flow artistically. We used pre-Bollywood Indian orchestration, combined with compatible Western musical style”

Other works on the program will be performed only by the Bangashs and Kavthekar. Tribute to Tagore utilizes folk music from western Bengal known as Bhatiyali, a type of music sung by boatmen on a river. It has poetry written in 1905 by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore and music composed in the 1960s by Amjad Ali Khan. The message of the poem, entitled Ekla Cholo, is that if no one responds to your call, you must walk on your path alone.

In Classical Indian music there is no written score, so improvisation takes hold once the initial composition is presented. Ayaan points out, “The musicians on stage don’t know what the other is going to do and yet have to perform like a rehearsed orchestra! Our role is really that of three people: the performer, the composer and the conductor.”

Amaan Ali Bangash is the elder son and disciple of the Sarod Maestro Amjad Ali Khan. Initiated into the fine art of Sarod playing at a very tender age, Amaan began his public performances at the age of eight. Accompanying his father to various music festivals in India and abroad, he has today carved out a niche for himself and his performances have evoked considerable applause. His precision in tunefulness and his bold and resonant strokes are all pointers to importance of tradition and continuity in Indian Classical Music. He made his debut abroad in 1986 at the Festival of India in Moscow. In 1990, Amaan performed in UK and at the Asia Society in 1991 in New York. Today, Amaan is considered as one of the finest young sarod players and has attained a very special place for himself among Indian music enthusiasts. Awards and accolades came his way early in life, yet Amaan steadfastly pursued his family’s inheritance and legacy. His personal belief being that his work will speak for itself. In October 2002, he received Provogue Society’s Young Achievers Award for Performing Arts. Beyond playing the sarod, Amaan has anchored Top Drive, the all-new television series on Star World that was aired beginning in January 2003 for five episodes. He also took part in the relay for the 2004 Athens Olympics in New Delhi in June 2004. In 2005, Amaan composed for the music for the film American Daylight by Academy Award winner Rodger Christian. For more info: amaanalibangash.com

Ayaan Ali Bangash is the younger son and disciple of the Sarod titan Maestro Amjad Ali Khan, making his solo concert debut at the age of eight. Since that time, Ayaan has been performing concerts world wide, giving many solo performances and also appearing in concert with his illustrious father and brother. Ayaan has won the hearts of music lovers both in India and around the globe. He made his UK Debut in 1989 and the US Debut in 1991 at the Asia Society in New York. By the year 2000, Ayaan joined his father at the Dalai Lama’s Sacred Music Festival inauguration. In June 2004, Ayaan took part in the Athens 2004 Olympic Torch Relay in New Delhi and the Fall of the same year he performed at the Symphony Hall in Fukuoka and New York’s Town Hall. In 2005, Ayaan composed the music score for Roger Christian’s film American Daylight. Ayaan has participated in over seven recordings that include three solo projects. His recent recordings include Sarod for Harmony and Live at Carnegie Hall. For more info: ayaanalibangash.com

Amit Kavthekar’s performing career began in the early 2000s in Mumbai. He performed alongside Zakir Hussain and Sivamani on Zee TV on Indian television. He appeared in Jabbar Patel’s documentary film about Pt. Shivkumar Sharma accompanying the maestro in concert. In Mumbai and Pune, he has accompanied maestros such as Lata Mangeshkar and Pandit Jasraj. After settling in Boston, Amit joined the faculty of the New England Conservatory. For more info: amitkavthekar.com

Violinist Jorge Avila

Violinist Jorge Ávila has won attention as an outstanding performer through numerous appearances as soloist, recitalist, concertmaster and chamber musician. He has appeared as a soloist with the Ridgefield Symphony, Colonial Symphony, New Amsterdam Symphony and Riverside Orchestra, and as concertmaster with the Stamford Symphony, Greenwich Symphony, Oratorio Society of New York, Musica Sacra, Jose Limon Dance Company and Gotham Opera Orchestra. For more info: jorgeavilamusic.com

Francisca Mendoza

Selected by Musical America as a Young Artist of the Year in 1990, violinist Francisca Mendoza has performed to critical acclaim and standing ovations around the world. Her performances have been in North, Central and South America, Europe, Israel and the Far East, and she has appeared at Carnegie Hall as soloist with the New Chamber Orchestra of New York, as well as at Steinway Hall, Weill Recital Hall and at Lincoln Center. Mendoza’s commercially released CD recording of Debussy and Prokofiev violin sonatas has been praised as “superb”…”enchanting”.

Violist Sally Schumway holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Kansas and a Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music, where she received the Hugo Kortschak Award for Excellence in Chamber Music. As a freelance player in the New York City area, she has had the opportunity to do a wide variety of work performing on recordings ranging from Strauss operas to video games; movie soundtracks such as Snake Eyes, A Time to Kill, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil; and in Broadway shows including Passion, Titanic: A New Musical, and Gypsy with Patti LuPone.

Eliana Mendoza

Cellist Eliana Mendoza has performed extensively as soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player. Winner of the Artists International Competition, she debuted at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. In Boston she performed a solo recital broadcast live on WGBH, National Public Radio. Praised by critics, her reviews have read “Fire and flash…rich pathos and refreshing singularity,” (The Washington Post) and “She is a total artist…with fluid touch, an impassioned mood and a notable bearing.” (The Enterprise, Brockton, MA).

Theresa Norris

Flutist Theresa Norris is an active orchestral and chamber musician in New York and the surrounding area. She began her musical career in her hometown of Detroit, where she performed with the Detroit Symphony and Michigan Opera Theatre while studying flute performance at Wayne State University. Currently Ms. Norris teaches flute at Kent Place School in Summit, NJ, and often races to Broadway for an evening of Phantom of the Opera.

Atsuko Sato

Atsuko Sato, bassoonist of the Tony winning musical “The Phantom of the Opera”, graduated from the Juilliard School where she was a student of Harold Goltzer. She was a member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and since returning to the New York, she freelances with many ensembles. She is a member of the Queens symphony, englewinds ensemble.