Article by Shuchita Rao

Harmonious Convergence: A preview of upcoming Jugalbandi concerts at LearnQuest Music & Dance Festival 2024.

“Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart.”
– Pablo Casals

Jugalbandi is a musical collaboration between two skilled performers of similar
musical caliber. Literally translating to “intertwined twins”, jugalbandi is akin to a
duet performance between two artists who could be vocalists, or instrumentalists,
or a combination of the two. The featured collaborators are typically supported by
a team of talented musicians on percussion as well as the tanpura drone

A productive musical dialogue between two imaginative performers can create a
harmonious and dynamic interaction leading to an aesthetically pleasant
experience for the listeners. If the performers compete on stage, they take away
from the spirit and essence of a joint creative endeavor. It is only when the
collaborators work with a sense of mutual respect for each other, enhancing each
other’s ideas, that jugalbandis turn into a a magical experience for themselves as
well as for the audience.

Upcoming Jugalbandi Concerts in March & April 2024 in Boston

LearnQuest Academy of Music, based out of Waltham, Mass is a reputed music
institution that has been presenting Indian classical music festivals for last 15
years. Several memorable jugalbandi performances held during past annual music
festivals highlighted camaraderie among the artists while they actively explored
and pushed the boundaries of tradition and innovation within Indian classical
music. Some jugalbandi examples from past festivals include jugalbandi between
the renowned sitarist Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan along with mandolin maestro, the
late U. Srinivas, a Sarod-Sitar jugalbandi by brothers Aayush Mohan and Lakshay
Mohan, a jugalbandi between Hindustani shehnai artist Ashwini Shankar along
with Carnatic flautist J.A. Jayanth among others.

This year, at a five day long LearnQuest Indian music and dance festival 2024,
which is scheduled to be held in two parts at Casey Theater, Regis College in
Weston, Mass: the first half between March 29th to March 31st and the second
half from April 13th to April 14th, an impressive array of jugalbandis (listed below)
will be presented.

1. Indian-Western jugalbandi (Ensemble) by violinists Purnaprajna Bangere
and David Balakrishnan on Saturday, March 30, 2024
2. Hindustani vocal and sitar jugalbandi by vocalist Arshad Ali Khan and
Shahana Banerjee on Sunday, March 31, 2024
3. Hindustani-Carnatic jugalbandi by Hindustani flautist Shadaj Godkhindi with
Carnatic violinist K J Dilip on April 13, 2024
4. Carnatic-Hindustani jugalbandi by Carnatic flautist V.K. Raman and sitarist
Pt. Kushal Das on April 13, 2024
5. Hindustani jugalbandi by vocalists Sanjukta Biswas and Sabina Islam on
April 14, 2024
6. Carnatic duet by violinist duo Lalgudi GJR Krishnan and Lalgudi
Vijayalakshmi, who are the children of the legendary musician, Vidwaan
Lalgudi Jayaraman on April 14, 2024

A slice of history
Since the mid-20th century, jugalbandis between several gifted performer duos
have mesmerized audiences around the world and enriched the classical music
landscape. Dhrupad vocalists such as the senior Dagar brothers, Nasir Moinuddin
Dagar and Nasir Aminuddin Dagar, Sitar virtuoso Pandit Ravi Shankar and Sarod
virtuoso Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Violinist Vidushi Dr. N. Rajam and Shehnai virtuoso
Ustad Bismillah Khan, Vocalist Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj with renowned
flautist Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Violinists Vidwaan Lalgudi Jayaraman and
Pandit T.N. Krishnan and Hindustani vocalists Ustad Dilshad Khan with his wife
Begum Parveen Sultana among several other talented pairs have showcased the
intricacies of Indian classical music through the medium of jugalbandi.

A unique collaboration akin to a jugalbandi that art lovers once witnessed several
years back on Indian national television, Doordarshan, was where two iconic
artists, Hindustani vocalist Bharat Ratna Bhimsen Joshi and reputed painter M.F.
Hussain collaborated in front of a live audience. Hussain painted while listening to
Bhimsen Joshi Ji’s music. At the end of the concert, a beautiful and compelling
work of art had been created from the inspiration the painter drew from the

JASRANGI – A unique Jugalbandi concept
Another interesting type of jugalbandi created by the late Sangeet Martand Pandit
Jasraj is known as “Jasrangi.” In this art form, one musician sings a raga in the
lower register (lower octave or mandra saptak) while the other musician
alternates by singing a different raga in a higher register (Madhya and taar saptak).
The complementary interplay of the two separate ragas creates a haunting effect.

Are Jugalbandis spontaneous works of art?

While some jugalbandis are spontaneous and extempore, others may go through
some amount of advance preparation. In Boston, in the year 2011, an innovative
jugalbandi between two pairs of brothers – Hindustani Dhrupad exponents
Gundecha brothers, and Carnatic brother duo Malladi brothers happened at the
Kresge auditorium in Cambridge, Mass. This collaboration succeeded in bringing
Hindustani and Carnatic music lovers closer in savoring the beauty of Indian
classical music. Gundecha brothers explained the work that went into planning
the jugalbandi as follows: “When we decided to sing with Malladi brothers, we
put considerable thought and planning into how to make the jugalbandi effective.
We listened to each other, made observations on each other’s musical content
and style and discussed with them how to bring out the best in of both styles. We
then isolated musical movements and components that sounded similar, and
those that synthesized well when sung together. We thought of ragas and talas
that are common to both styles and came up with a plan.” This planned effort and
execution of a jugalbandi was well received by a diverse audience of music lovers.


Henry Ford once said “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is
progress, and working together is success.” Music lovers are in for a treat in
March and April 2024 because not one, but six jugalbandis will be presented at
the Learnquest festival in an effort to showcase the depth and beauty of Indian
classical music. Buy your tickets in advance at

Article by Urmi Samadar

The LearnQuest Music Festival in their 16th year continues to be the leading Indian classical performance venue in the New England area. Every spring, audiences are enthralled by world-class performances in Hindustani and Carnatic vocal and instrumental; the lineup comprising stalwarts and upcoming talent in diverse genres. 

This year, LearnQuest is introducing a segment on Indian classical dances, featuring Bharatnatyam by renowned exponent Padmini Ravi and Kathak by acclaimed dancer Farah Yasmeen Shaikh.  This is both inspiring for dancers like myself, fellow artists in the region, dance students and enthusiasts. Most widely practiced Bharatnatyam, an expressive and energetic dance from Southern India, is known for its nuanced abhinayas, sculpturesque postures and stylized movements. Kathak, a story-telling art from Northern India, is characterized by percussive footwork, pirouettes and rhythmic intricacies presented with delicate hand gestures and subtle expressions. Audiences can look forward to Padmini and Farah’s spectacular performances on April 14, the concluding day of the festival.  

A master classical artist, Padmini Ravi from Bangalore, who received initial training from K.J Sarasa of the Vazhuvoor style, dedicated herself to dance and the arts for five decades. In recent years, she has reached beyond the traditional borders to explore allied art forms such as theater, folk, classical music, and cinematography. A creative virtuoso, Padmini believes “When we are in our artistic pursuits, we realize that creativity comes from an unknown source and place. We cannot plan nor anticipate. We can connect to this source only when we are relaxed and empty to receive. Dance is about control and no control. It mirrors life-we do our best and surrender.”

A guru for over 500 students, Padmini’s students not only train in the classical dance form, but also branch into choreography, teaching and training methods, television and cinema.  An acclaimed international performer, recipient of the Sangeetha Nritya Academy Award and State Rajyotsava Award for her contribution to the field of dance, Padmini’s name is synonymous with innovation, integrity and quality. She has led global workshops and seminars with universities, performance schools and collaborated with theater and music groups to create new performance texts in the arts. With a recent grant from Ford Foundation, Padmini produced a feature film “Shringaram”, converging media and arts in an exceptional way that could inspire future innovation. A lifelong learner, innovator, contributor, Padmini, is currently researching the ‘Intangible benefits of the Tangibles of Dance’ as her PhD thesis at the Jain University.

Farah Yasmeen Shaikh, a renowned Kathak dancer, trained with late Pandit Chitresh Das for eighteen years. A first generation Pakistani American, based in California, Farah committed herself to Kathak, the arts, as well as arts administration by founding Noorani Dance. A multifaceted artist and professional, Farah not only leads her Kathak school and performs globally, but also directs a performing arts company and hosts a podcast Heartistry Talk Show – exploring diverse channels to promote and preserve the arts.  Farah’s choreographies often address topics of historical and social relevance, including The Forgotten Empress or The Partition Project.  Speaking of her art, Farah says “When I dance – in performance and the classes I teach – my goal is to think less and feel more. I aim to be so deeply connected with the art through the foundation of my riyaaz (practice), that I hope to go beyond aspects of real time, and strive for a heightened emotional, physical and spiritual experience, of which I hope transcends to the students and audience as well.” 

A TEDx speaker, an Arts Commissioner for the San Mateo County in California, Farah (and Noorani Dance) has been a recipient of numerous awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, Gerbode Foundation, Zellerbach Family Foundation, California Arts Council and more.  Farah enjoys training students and performing in Pakistan, every year.  Audiences may look forward to her presentation of “Nazaakat aur Taaqat – A Delicate Power” at the LearnQuest Festival. 

Written by Urmi Samadar, an award-winning Kathak dancer, instructor and choreographer in the New England region, who has performed widely with acclaimed artists in US and India. In parallel with her dance career, Urmi, a Wharton MBA, pursues a profession in management education as the assistant dean at MIT Sloan’s Master of Finance program. 

Article by Sanket Acharya

Gifted Tabla Player Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri To Perform Solo At the 2024 LearnQuest Music Festival.

By Sanket Acharya

WESTON, MA–As many readers already know, the LearnQuest Academy of Music is a non-profit educational institution located in the Boston area that has been instrumental in bringing scintillating performances by Indian artists to New England since 2006. Now in its 16th year, the LearnQuest Music Festival, to be held during March and April this year, is sure to attract a wide array of music and dance lovers from the area.

This year, the audience will have a special treat in being able to listen to Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, a highly respected and world-famous Tabla player known for his captivating solo performances. Swapanji’s distinctive style and command over the instrument was initiated at an early age of five, through intensive training with his Guru, the late Pandit Santosh Krishna Biswas of Lucknow Gharana. Spanning an impressive career of over seven decades, Swapanji has been a terrific soloist, a sensitive and elegant accompanist to the likes of Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, as well as a mentor to students at the Ali Akbar College of Music in California where he is the Director of Percussion.

Given his unique contributions to the world of Indian music and Tabla, it is no surprise that Swapanji has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades including the prestigious Padma Shree, Sangeet Natak Academy Award, and the American Academy of Artists Award, to name only a few. His performances have taken him around the globe and two of his records, Legacy (1997) and Passing on the Tradition (1998) were also nominated for the Grammy Awards.

Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri’s Tabla solo performance will be part of the five-day LearnQuest Music Festival that will take place during March 29-31 and April 13-14, 2024 at Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts. The festival also features several other highly regarded artists including Roopak Kulkarni (Flute), Kushal Das (Sitar), TM Krishna (Vocal), Lalgudi GJR Krishnan (Violin), and many more.

For full details and tickets, please visit

 About the Author:

Sanket Acharya is a disciple of Ustad Allarakha and Ustad Zakir Hussain and has performed several tabla concerts internationally collaborating with leading artists. He is a scientist by training and received his PhD in Immunology from Harvard University. Professionally, Sanket works in the biotechnology industry supporting development of advanced therapies. He lives with his family in the Boston area.

Article by Akash Deep

The LearnQuest Music Festival will celebrate its 16th offering this spring. Most music lovers are well aware that it is one of the largest festivals of its kind in North America, but even regular attendees may not be aware that it is one of the few festivals worldwide that spans both Hindustani and Carnatic music. And this year, it will also include a genre that some believe precedesthis bifurcation: Dhrupad.

Dhrupad is the style of raga-based music that legendary singers Miyan Tansen and Baiju Bawra performed during the Mughal period in India. A typical Dhrupad recital consists of an unfolding of the raag in increasing tempo – called alaap, jod and jhala – followed by a composition and its elaboration accompanied by a pakhawaj. Dhrupad music is described by both connoisseurs and new listeners as pure and resonant, subtleand majestic, introspective and divine.


This year the LearnQuest Festival will feature a renowned vocal exponent of dhrupad music, Pandit Uday Bhawalkar. He is a flagbearer of the famous Dagar bani after having received training under Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar and Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar. A recipient of the Sangeet Natak Academy Award, Pandit Uday Bhawalkar is a globally acclaimed performer and devoted teacher of Dhrupad music. He has also contributed to the soundtracks of films such as Mani Kaul’s “Cloud Door”, Aparna Sen’s “Mr. & Mrs. Iyer”, and Amol Palekar’s “Anahat”.

Pandit Uday Bhawalkar’s performance will be a part of the five-day LearnQuest Music Festival that will take place on March 29-31 and April 13-14, 2024, at Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts. The festival also features Shashank Subramanyam (flute), Manjusha Patil (vocal), Kushal Das (sitar), TM Krishna (vocal), and many more. For full details and tickets, please visit

About the writer— Akash Deep is a student of Hindustani and Dhrupad music at the LearnQuest academy of music and a part of the organizing committee at Learnquest music festival. Professionally Akash is a professor of Finance at Harvard university

Article By Selina Senbanerjee

Pandit Ken Zuckerman and Vidushi Emmanuelle Martin Bring Global Perspectives to the 16th Annual LearnQuest Music Festival

It is often said that music transcends all boundaries. Inspired by this extraordinary power of music, LearnQuest Academy of Music was founded in 1996 and started its Annual Music Festival in 2006 – with the goal of Connecting through Music.

This year, LearnQuest’s 16th Annual Festival will feature two artists, Pandit Ken Zuckerman and Vidushi Emmanuelle Martin, who truly embody this spirit. Though these individuals were not born into Indian culture, Indian classical music connected with them. They have since dedicated their lives to learning, performing, and connecting others with the beautiful musical traditions of India.

Pandit Ken Zuckerman. Photo by Heiner Grieder

Pandit Ken Zuckerman is a Grammy-nominated sarod virtuoso from Switzerland. He started his musical journey in his childhood with piano and then switched to guitar. Later, Zuckerman started training on the sitar with the legendary sarod maestro Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and subsequently chose the sarod. Zuckerman has trained with Ustad ji for 37 years and is currently the director of the Ali Akbar College of Music in Switzerland. He has performed extensively around the world in both traditional Indian classical concerts as well as fusion projects and world music collaborations. Zuckerman is also a professor at the Musik Akademie Basel, Switzerland, where he teaches several unique courses within the Studio für Musik der Kulturen, which is focused on introducing music from other parts of the world to students of Western music.

Vidushi Emmanuelle Martin is an accomplished Carnatic vocalist from France. She started her musical training on piano at an early age before taking up Carnatic music. She has spent 10 years in Chennai, India training with the renowned Carnatic vocalist Vidwan T.M. Krishna, who will also be performing at this year’s LearnQuest Festival. Martin has performed extensively in Europe and the United States, and she teaches private lessons as well as training courses. She also hosts innovative world music workshops in collaboration with artists from other traditions of music.

Connect with these inspiring artists and their music at LearnQuest’s Annual Music Festival on March 29-31 and April 13-14 at Regis College in Weston, MA. For tickets and more information on this year’s festival and music classes, please visit

(About the writer: Selina Banerjee is a faculty member of Hindustani classical vocal music at LearnQuest Academy of Music. She has been learning with Dr. Pradeep Shukla at LearnQuest for the past 17 years and completed her Manch Pravesh in 2017. She is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at Northeastern University’s Department of Chemical Engineering.)