Dr Aneesh Pradhan, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations Chair in Indian Studies at the Monash Asia Institute and the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, recently held a public lecture at the Consul General of India in Melbourne.
Entitled ‘Courtesans and Hereditary Musicians in a Colonial Setting: Practitioners of Hindustani Music in Bombay’, the lecture focused on the living and working conditions of hereditary musicians and courtesans in colonial Bombay.
Dr Pradhan occupies the position of Chair in Indian Studies at The Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, Monash University. This prestigious chair was established by the Indian Government through its cultural body, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations in partnership with the Faculty of Arts. Dr Pradhan has been working with undergraduate and graduate students from the School of Music since July 2016 and will continue this position until November.
Dr Pradhan is one of India’s leading tabla players and a disciple of illustrious tabla maestro, Pandit Nikhil Ghosh. He is the recipient of several prestigious national awards and prizes in India, and has earned international recognition, performing around the globe, from the Royal Albert Hall in London to the Sydney Opera House. He is also a keen researcher of trends in performance, music education and patronage that unfolded in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, a period that continues to fascinate him.
His lecture centred on the resilience displayed by these hereditary musicians and courtesans in colonial Bombay when new sources of patronage from mercantile and industrial classes fundamentally and rapidly changed the ways in which Hindustani music was socially organised, performed and taught. He also spoke about the contemporary developments in Hindustani music in the context of these profound historical issues, including his own personal reflections as a performer and researcher.
Dr Pradhan will be performing in the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music on 1 October at 7pm as part of CONFLUENCE, A Festival of India in Australia, which is currently underway nationally, until November.
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