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Ajit Singh- Sitar Player
About Ajit: The virtuoso from the ancient holy city of Varanasi (Benares) has been studying classical sitar since he was a child, following a long family tradition which over countless generations has produced many great masters (pandits, in Hindi) of Indian stringed instruments.
His first musical guru, in fact, was his highly celebrated grandfather, the late Thakur Mahadev Singh, who in his time was known throughout India as "Sitaria Baba," the saint of sitar. Later, he came under the guidance of his father, Ranjit Singh, who gained equal fame as master of the sarod, unlike the sitar a fretless instrument plucked with a coconut shell. And finally, before embarking on his own illustrious career, he attended the master classes of his eminent uncle, Dr. Rajbhan Singh, former dean and head of the music department of Benares Hindu University, and one of Indiaís greatest virtuosos of the sitar and surbahar, a larger, more sonorous version of the sitar.
Himself a much sought-after teacher when not indulging his unorthodox life-style as a wandering minstrel indifferent to worldly fortune the very modest and endearing Ajit Singh is known to music lovers in India and around the world for his sensitive approach to his instrument and his art. "Music is a God-form," he believes. "A raga is like the soul, and each note is like a flower in bloom, an offering to heaven."
In simple musical terms a Raga is an organized combination of notes played in improvisatory fashion according to a system of rules that have evolved over millennia of Indian musical history. Ajit Singh plays these ragas in the tradition of Gwalior Gharana, the oldest school of Indian classical music, as well as Benares Gharana, another ancient traditional school that includes light classical music and folk. He plays in many musical styles, though his work emphasizes the Drupadang, an instrumental style popularized by world-renowned master Ravi Shankar, a close personal friend of Ajitís family who, as a frequent visitor to his home in Benares, was a source of great inspiration to the young Ajit in his formative years. However, in contrast to Pandit Shankar, his acknowledged idol, Ajit has expanded his repertoire to include a method known as Sitar Khani Baj, which incorporates an even wider range of intricate fingering techniques.
About Ajit's Latest Album: Ajit Singh dedicates this recording to Ganesh,the lead raga on this tape, Raag Yaman, being one of those he performed at his first solo consert, given at Durg Vinayak Ganesh Temple in Varanasi when he was in his teens. That concert was also dedicated to his teachers in gratitude for enabling him to "communicate with God through his sitar."
His selections in this recording give the listener a sampling of the wide range of samples he covers through his instrument.
Side A:includes Raag Yaman Alap& Gat (Composition) In Deepchandi & Teental (14 & 16 Beat).
Side B:includes A Folk Tune of Benares in Raag Khamaj In Varied Beats. Also has Folk Music of the Hills in Raag Pahadi In Four Different Beats (14/6/8 & 16).
(Photograph Copyright Evelyn Letfuss, New York,U.S.A.)
We hope to reach Concert Organisers all over the world through this Web Page. Ajit Singh can be contacted through e-mail/ fax/ phone for your programmes. We would be glad to know if you are intrested in his Music Album.
Performances by Ajit..Despite his youth and his preference for secluded and tranquil settings far from the madding crowd--Indiaís leading cartoonist, Unny, has caught the artistís very essence in one of his typically brilliant sketches-
Ajit has nonetheless garnered an impressive list of concert appearances. He has given numerous performances in such cities as Agra, Bangalore, Benares, Delhi, Ooty, and Patna. He has been a featured artist at the prestigious Brindavan Festival of Indian Classical Music, held each year in the state of Uttar Pradesh, and he was the only musician invited from north India to perform at the Narayana Music Festival in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu to commemorate Narayana Guru, one of Indiaís great musical and spiritual teachers.
Most recently, Ajit was guest performer at the opening of the Dravidia Art and Performance Gallery in Cochin, Kerala, following a major concert in the same city sponsored by SEED, an Indian environmental organization dedicated to the protection of elephants. As lead performer at a unique concert held at New Delhiís Bal Bhawan, a landmark institution for the enhancement of youth education established by Indiaís first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, Ajit played to a record audience of 15,000 people. As a reviewer wrote after one of Ajitís concerts, "His music soars to the heavens on the zephyr-like strings of his sitar."
But according to the artist himself, Ajitís most rewarding recital was the marathon concert of ragas played to Indra, god of rain, that he and an assemblage of other great Indian artists gave one year when they gathered voluntarily in Benares in response to a severe drought that threatened the livelihood of the regionís farmers. "The concert was scheduled to last round-the-clock for an entire week," says Ajit proudly. "But after we had played for only four days, the drought broke and the rains fell in buckets, more than Benares had seen for 40 years. The newspapers gave us rave reviews, but with flood-waters rising in parts of the city over two meters high, said that perhaps we had played too well."
Contact Details For Ajit Singh:Address: House No. 24 L-3 Ravindrapuri Extension, Varanasi- 5 (U.P.), India. Phone: 91-542- 310971. Fax: 91-542- 312788, 313695. E-mail: email@example.com. And, his Web Page Address is: www.angelfire.com/va/visitvaranasi/ajitsitar.html