Major grant funds groundbreaking musical project Raga Maqam

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Raga Maqam blends traditional Indian Ragas with Maqam,
melodies from Arab, Turkish and Persian Music

For the first time since its inception four years ago, The India Center Foundation (ICF) has been awarded a major grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for the production of their ground-breaking musical project, Raga Maqam. This collaborative venture explores the confluences of two modal systems, Raga from the Indian subcontinent and Maqam from traditional Arab, Turkish and Persian music, both of which have their own unique and specific rules and structure.

Raga Maqam is a collaboration between composer and trumpeter Amir ElSaffar and Brooklyn Raga Massive, an Indian music collective based in New York City. The project blends these two traditional melodic modes and imbues them with Western musical influences to create compositions for a 14-piece ensemble that is both profound and mesmerizing.

ICF Founding Director Priya Giri Desai says, “We are very excited to receive the grant from the NEA. Raga Maqam has been a passion project for the ICF board, as it serves as an example of the unique, symbiotic work that is a central tenet of our foundation’s mission. For South Asian-Americans to succeed as a community, our voices must be part of the American mainstream. This recognition gets us one step closer.”

The grant will be used to support the completion of the new work, as well public performances including virtual presentations and a professional studio recording. The studio recording of the composition will involve a full ensemble and will subsequently be released for a general audience. Raga Maqam is also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

The India Center is a national, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the United States dedicated to the study of the Indian subcontinent, the promotion of its cultural life, and the unique relationship between India and the United States. Based in New York City, The India Center hosts dialogues and exhibitions, mounts programs, educates audiences, and fosters debate focused on India’s future as well as its rich and varied past. For more information, please visit  www.theindiacenter.us.

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