For the first time since its inception four years ago, the India Center Foundation has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for the production of its musical project, “Raga Maqam.”
This collaborative venture explores the confluences of two modal systems, Raga from the Indian subcontinent and Maqam from the traditional Arab, Turkish and Persian music, both of which have their own unique and specific rules and structure, according to a press release.
“Raga Maqam” is a collaboration between composer and trumpeter Amir ElSaffar and Brooklyn Raga Massive, an Indian American 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.
The grant will be used to support the completion of the new work, as well as public performances, including virtual presentations and a professional studio recording, added the press release. The studio recording of the composition will involve a full ensemble and will subsequently be released for a general audience.
“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,” said Priya Giri Desai, founding director of ICF. “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.”
Based in New York City, the India Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the study of the Indian subcontinent, the promotion of its cultural life, and the unique relationship between India and the U.S.