Sony Music releases ‘Masterworks from the NCPA Archives’

NCPA in conjunction with Sony Music opens up its treasure trove of Archival Music

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | December 21, 2011

The National Centre for the Performing Arts, India’s premier art and culture institution, in collaboration with Sony Music Entertainment, a global music giant, announced plans of releasing a range of music from the NCPA’s archival treasure trove that include rare recordings of legendary Indian music artists. These albums comprise music from legendssuch asPanditJasraj, Bismillah Khan, Rashid Khan, Nikhil Banerjee,  Kumar Gandharva, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Dagar Brothers, Gangubai Hangal, Amjad Ali Khan, Dr Balamuralikrishna, ML Vasanthakumari, MS Gopalalakrishnan, Lalgudi Jayaraman to name a few.

On December 14, 2011, Sony Music released the first setofeleven original recordingsof renowned Indian Music artistes from the NCPA Archives, titled ‘MASTERWORKS from the NCPA Archives’. The released albums that will be available on stands this month are ofPtJasraj, Bismillah Khan, Rashid Khan, Nikhil Banerjee, Kumar Gandharva, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Gangubai Hangal, Amjad Ali Khan, ML Vasantha kumari, MS Gopalakrishnan& Dr Balamuralikrishna.

The unique compositions will be available across the globe in physical formats such as CDs, LPs etc. at all leading music stores as well as in digital formats such as Internet download & streaming and Mobile download & streaming services etc. Currently, the NCPA and Sony Music have permission from these illustrious artistes (or their heirs) and Accompanists for the release of their archival recordings present at the NCPA. Over the course of the next few months many other legendary artistes’ music recordings will also be released (please refer to the box alongside for the details).

The NCPA Archives was conceived as the brain child of Dr. Narayana Menon, NCPA’s first Executive Director in the ‘70s, with the objective of recording and preserving for posterity the finest performances in classical and folk music traditions, which have been handed down through the oral tradition by renowned teachers over generations. With over 5000 hours of exclusive audio recordings taken from live and studio performances and 1,200 hours of film footage of musicians – never released in the public arena, the NCPA’s Archives rank among one of the world’s finest documentary resources for Indian Music.

Over 200 artistes, with most of the stalwarts of Hindustani and Carnaticmusic genres, have left an indelible imprint of their music on the NCPA Archives over the past thirty years. Some of the great artistes whose works feature in the Archives include: Bismillah Khan, Vilayat Khan, Bhimsen Joshi, Alla Rakha, Zakir Hussain, Mallikarjun Mansur, Kumar Gandharva, Nikhil Banerjee, Gangubai Hangal, Dagar Brothers, Rashid Khan, Pandit Jasraj, HariprasadChaurasia,Amjad Ali Khanto name just a few in HindustaniandML Vasantha kumari, MS Subbulakshmi, Dr Balamuralikrishna, Lalgudi Jayaraman, MS Gopalakrishnan, DK Pattamal, Palghat Mani Iyer and more in Carnatic. The music of these artistes was recorded by the NCPA on the best studio recording equipment available at the time, and represents, in the view of the artistes themselves some of the best work, they have ever performed.

Preserved in controlled optimal conditions of pressure and humidity, in a specially-created studio environment, the NCPA Archives have been listed by International Music Collection (IMC), of the British Library National Sound Archiveas one of the top 137 archives of the world, in its Final Report of “Archiving the Music World”. The collection is studded with rare (achhob) ragas such as Raga Maluha Kalyan by the late Nikhil Banerjee, RagaDin Ki Puria by Pt. Jasraj among many more.

NCPA has never sought to commercialise its wealth of recordings, but with the changes in technology and how people now access music, it was important for us to make this treasure available for people all over the world to appreciate and enjoy. With the role of archives changing over the years and in order to make this legendary music accessible for masses across the globe, the NCPA took a decision to host a global tender application. Through this process, Sony Music was awarded the exclusive licence by the NCPA for a period of 20 years, to commercially release some of the music stored in its archives. The NCPA plans to plough back the royalty from the sale of the musicto furthering the propagation and preservation of Indian Classical Music through the setting up of the Guru-Shishya Parampara method of teaching and scholarships for artistes.

With this tie-up, Sony Music Entertainment will contribute towards the promotion of India’s rich musical heritage by preserving and making available exclusive recordings for music enthusiasts across the globe. As of today, Sony Music has received permission for around 200 hours of recordings and is working towards securing permissions for more. Initially, planning to release just the ‘studio’ recording that were done in a controlled environment by the artiste in the presence of the recording engineer, Sony Music plans to release even the live recordings that are present in the Archives that were made during live concerts, ever since the 1970s, at a later stage.

Khushroo N. Suntook-Chairman, NCPA, said, “The NCPA will now be able to fulfil the raison d’être of its archival efforts: to preserve for posterity and make accessible for music lovers, the musical gems of our legendary artistes. We are glad to partner with an internationally renowned music company with a global presence in 46 countries, Sony Music Entertainment and hope to reach out to all the Indian music lovers in various parts of the world. This is one of the ways by which we would live up to our mission of preserving, presenting and promoting our culture, and in this particular case, to promote the best of Indian culture all over the world.”

He further adds, “The royalties that the NCPA will receive from the sale of the archival music is intended to be ploughed back into the archiving and digitizing efforts, and be used to encourage young musicians with scholarships and indigenous artists The NCPA has also initiated a programme for the Guru-Shishya Parampara model of teaching, and they hope that the resources mobilized from the public distribution of the archival music, will help them to strengthen and extend this programme. Rephrasing Mr. JRD Tata’s famous quote, “What comes from music must go back into music many times over.”

Shridhar Subramaniam, President – India and Middle East, Sony Music Entertainment, said, “Sony Music appreciates the opportunity to be able to contribute to the promotion and preservation of India’s rich musical heritage around the globe and to benefit the estates of the legendary maestros that graced India’s glorious musical history. Through our robust distribution network, it is our endeavour to presentthe same to every person across the globe. In this process we have worked very closely with NCPA to ensure high quality standards of music are presented to audiences. Also, the royalties we receive will be shared with the artistes, their families, the accompanists and also towards promoting and preserving our rich musical heritage.”

The albums will be available at local music stores or one can log on to Nokia OVI Store, iTunes worldwide and Spotify to listen to and buy albums.

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