Brooklyn Raga Massive gears up for more activities in 2023

Neel Murgai, musician and creative director of Brooklyn Raga Massive on the right, with David
Ellenbogen, musician and founder of the Ragas Live Festival on left and on stage before their
performance.
Photo Credit: Adrien Tillman, courtesy Neel Murgai

Brooklyn Raga Massive (BRM) is looking to the year 2023 with great anticipation, having completed 2022 with many of its choice activities.

BRM continues to expand the audience of Indian classical music in New York City, and has earned the label of ‘A Raga Renaissance Flowering in Brooklyn’ from the New York Times. As a non-profit organization, BRM works with the support of artists, partners, donors, and friends, to ensure success and sustainability. Its mission is to foster cross-cultural collaborations and producing transcendent performances through direct support to artists. BRM brings South Asian-inspired arts to New York City and other spaces in the U.S., organizes educational programs, and provides a much needed platform.

An outdoor musical fusion performance by Brooklyn Raga Massive at one of their regular
events. Photo: Adrien Tillman, courtesy Neel Murgai

Murgai, the creative director of BRM is a sitarist, overtone singer, percussionist, composer, teacher, co-artistic director of the BRM, and plays original Indian classical music while experimenting with contemporary cross-cultural collaborations. As an artist, he has worked with many artists and ensembles at different venues which include the Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, David Letterman Show, Jazz clubs, and music festivals across the U.S. Murgai also plays the ‘daf’, and has studied overtone singing, Harmonic Choir singing, and Western composition. He has composed music for films, television shows, videos, and theater and dance projects.

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Holding that music can become one’s life, Murgai conducts workshops, lectures and demonstrations in schools and colleges in New York, and teaches Indian classical music to children through his  group Raga Kids. His BRM holds weekly concert and jam sessions at the Jalopy Theater in Brooklyn.

Standing on the threshold of the year 2023, BRM can boast of a lot of accomplishments. It has participated in 52 events, averaging to one musical event a week, employing close to 400 local artists. Through its educational partnerships with 4 institutions, it has reached 200 students.

On the innovative scene, it has launched a new series, ‘Colors of Raga’, with an aim to create a deep listening space to experience Indian classical music.

Rapt audience at a live performance of the Brooklyn Raga Massive.
Photo courtesy Brooklyn Raga Massive website.

One of BRM’s huge accomplishments are the two large music festivals which it hosted. In March of 2022, BRM hosted its month long ‘Ragini Festival’ to celebrate Women’s History Month, featuring South Asian drum and dance traditions. The virtual festival featured Pary Kaur heading UK’s all female dance and drum team, Mumbai’s fifth generation tabla player Mitali Khargonkar and young women from Tamil Nadu’s Sakhti Folk Arts Center with paraiattam.

The 24-hour ‘Ragas Live Festival’ was held in person this year on October 22 and 23 at the Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. Presented by Pioneer Works in collaboration with Brooklyn Raga Massive (BRM) and the Society for Arts and Culture of South Asia, the 24 hour concert featured performances on the sitar, veena, bansuri, sarangi, and classical vocal singing along with other classical music from other cultures.

BRM has also brought to the front Afghan artists in America and the wider South Asian artists in New York City through two successful seasons of their Social Justice Series.

In 2023, BRM will have a new branding and website designs created by Design Director Jesse Johanning and Amanda Figueroa of Brown Art Ink. New team member Elise Barbin has joined BRM in 2022 as the Social Media Associate.

Looking forward to their continued support, BRM has extended its gratitude to all for their generous support, be it a donor, an artist, or a friendly face in the audience.

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