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Visva reopens Allauddin music centre after decade

Ashish Khan plays the sarod at the workshop on Tuesday. Picture by Snehamoy Chakraborty

Santiniketan, Dec. 18: Visva-Bharati today reopened after a decade a centre named after sarod player Allauddin Khan where renowned musicians from all over the country will teach Indian classical music.

The Acharya Allauddin Khan Music Centre, under Sangeet Bhavan, was closed in 2002 after the varsity failed to arrange for enough “guest teachers”.

The reopening today was marked by a three-day workshop, which was attended by sarod player Ashish Khan, the grandson of Ustad Allauddin Khan who mentored Pandit Ravi Shankar.

Sources said the decision to reopen the music centre was taken by vice-chancellor Sushanta Duttagupta, who felt the students were being deprived of music lessons by “legends”.

“The music centre was closed down in 2002 as the authorities could not arrange for guest teachers. This year, our vice-chancellor decided to reopen it. We have invited Ustad Ashish Khan and tabla player Pandit Swapan Chowdhury to inuagurate the centre through a workshop,” said Indrani Mukherjee, the principal of Sangeet Bhavan.

The music centre, the sources said, was started in 1999 for students of Indian classical music who were encouraged to attend workshops organised by it.

The centre would from now invite renowned musicians to workshops that would be organised every week. Students can attend the camps for free.

“The music centre was started to introduce students to “guru-sishya parampara (learn music by listening)”. It ran without any obstacles for three years. Sitar players Kumar Prasad Mukherjee, Ustad Rahim Sahimuddin Dagar and other classical musicians were invited to impart lessons,” a teacher of Sangeet Bhavan said.

In 2002, the centre had to be closed down when the varsity failed to arrange enough musicians for the workshops. “Musicians of such stature remained busy for most part of the year. Only few could come to the varsity to teach. The number of workshops lessened and both teachers and students lost interest gradually,” a varsity official said.

Asked if the varsity would encounter similar problems in arranging teachers, an official said: “We will take all initiative to make sure workshops are held regularly.”

Students of classical music welcomed the idea of reopening the centre. “I have come here to learn the Hindustani classical music. Today, we were taught by Ustad Ashis Khan. Apart from playing the sarod, he gave us lessons on vocal classical music. I intend to attend all workshops the centre organises in the coming months,” said Hania Luthufia, a student from Sri Lanka.

Sangeet Bhavan teachers were equally elated. “We are glad that we succeeded in reopening the centre. We will invite guest teachers regularly,” said Kaberi Kar, the head of Hindustani classical music department.