INSPIRATION: Puran Dang (Class of 1959) shares his experiences with MITHAS
Information provided by Puran Dang (Class of 1959 IIT-KGP, RP Hall)
MIT Heritage Arts of Southasia (MITHAS) and the LearnQuest Academy of Music have partnered to present the "Blue Planet Music Festival", an Indian Classical Music Concert Series, which began January 29 and will run through June 30, 2022. The festival consists of 21 performances: 9 Hindustani concerts, 9 Carnatic concerts, one jugalbani concert, and two Bharathanatyam dance recitals. They will be presented by both eminent maestros as well as rising stars and will be broadcast via internet streaming in partnership with the Mumbai-based organization First Edition Arts. A unique feature of these concerts is that they are recorded in India's beautiful outdoors, treating viewers to a visual experience. (Learn More about the Festival)
Reflections by Puran Dang (Class of 1959/IIT-KGP/RP Hall)
I have been involved in MITHAS almost from the very beginning- 1993.
As President, Chairman, and now I am the Chairman Emeritus. George Ruckert, my very dear friend, was one of the three founders of MITHAS in 1993.
This great man spent about 25 years at the Ustad Ali Akbar Khan Institute in Silicon Valley: He joined as a student learning various instruments under his Guru, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. He was so sincere to Ustad Ji, becoming the Executive Director of the Institute and serving for about 25 years with exemplary devotion. Thereafter he joined MIT in Cambridge as a Lecturer in Eastern and Western Music, a few years ago retiring from MIT and is now Senior Lecturer Emeritus at MIT.
Impressed with my devotion to Mithas, in 1994 -1995, he surprised me with a Visiting Card with my name as the President of Mithas.
We both worked very closely and over the years we organized, along with the help of Volunteers, thousands of Concerts at the Auditoriums and Halls of MIT covering the most famous Artists of India mostly.....Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Ustad Zakir Hussein, and hundreds of others. MITHAS became the HUB of Music Lovers. Most of these concerts were of Indian Classical Music of North and South and all India.
Later on George elevated me to become the Chairman of MITHAS and here was the fortunate one working closely with George and our Mithas Management fostering and promoting the Arts and Music of India and South Asia at large. After many years, I was given the title of Life Long Term as Chairman Emeritus.
Mithas also honored me with the Life Time Distinguished Service Award.
Mithas has been my greatest chapter of my life: Blessing to work with George and serving the Arts and Music of India/South Asia. (Learn more about MITHAS)
More about George, Gretchen, and the LearnQuest Academy of Music (as told by Puran)
George and I have become like brothers for our whole lives. His wife, Gretchen Haydon- Ruckert is a famous KATHAK dancer and exemplary Kathak teacher. Kathak is a very important style of Indian dancing. For the last 30 years Gretchen has been running her Kathak Institute and has taught hundreds of students here in the Boston Area.
Both George and Gretchen have visited Kolkata and performed in India multiple times: They love India.
Many years ago, on the request of my friend, Prof. Madhusudan Chakrabarthy, then Deputy Director of IIT-Kgp, I requested George and Gretchen go to IIT-Kgp and perform there. George gave a beautiful SAROD Concert in the Netaji Auditorium.
Sarod is a known Musical Instrument like SITAR and is the specialty of George.
While they were there, they visited the Campus and my RP Hall where I spent my four years. Gretchen told me on their return: "We were very excited to see the buildings and roads of the campus where you spent four years".
This series in India on ZOOM, has been planned and run by MITHAS and LearnQuest which is a known Music School located in Waltham/Boston, MA. They teach Indian Music to young and old and hold Annual Concerts by the best known musicians from India.
The Founder of LearnQuest, Prof Pradeep Shukla, teaches Mathematics at Suffolk University in Boston and is a very dear friend of mine. (Explore more about Learnquest Academy of Music)