The choir room in the Music Building resonated with the raga Bhavana on October 19, as tabla master Abhijit Banerjee led students in a workshop exploring the classical melodies of Indian music.
During the masterclass, Banerjee, the founder of the world-famous Indian percussion group The TARANG Ensemble, introduced TCNJ’s students to a melody he had composed—first by using a whiteboard to explain the notes, then by sitting down with his tabla and playing along with the students, who accompanied the maestro on guitars, pianos, xylophones, and various percussive instruments, as well as by singing and clapping their hands. By the end of the two-hour workshop, the students had not only learned the melody, but could also say they had played alongside a world-renowned tabla player.
“What the students and [Banerjee] put together by the end—that was pretty amazing,” Associate Professor of Music Wayne Hiesler remarked afterward.
The masterclass was one of several events held that day as part of a free symposium on The Arts in Contemporary India. Other events included a keynote address by Banerjee on Indian classical music; a performance by The TARANG Ensemble; a performance by TCNJ’s South Asian dance team, Saathiya; and lectures on Hindi cinema, contemporary Indian artists, and the artwork on display as part of TCNJ Art Gallery’s exhibit, Goddess, Lion, Peasant, Priest: Modern and Contemporary Indian Art. That exhibit, which features works from the Shelley and Donald Rubin Collection, runs through December 16.
“The [symposium] was a really great exemplar of how you can bring people from across departments and create something that isn’t just multidisciplinary, but integrated,” said Hiesler, one of the organizers of the event.