Creative, innovative and experimental, the Gandharva Choir has presented hundreds of striking performances of Indian choral music in India and abroad over the last four decades. Founded in 1972 under the leadership of Pt Vinaya Chandra Maudgalya, the Gandharva Choir is presently conducted by Pt Madhup Mudgal.
The Gandharva Choir has successfully experimented with classical and folk styles of music. It not only specializes in difficult classical forms such as Dhrupad, Dhamar, Varnam, Kriti and Tarana, but is equally adept at patriotic, devotional and folk forms. Its extensive repertoire includes hymns from the ancient Vedas, compositions in the Hindustani as well as Carnatic styles of music, Rabindra Sangeet and modern experimental works involving the use of harmony.
In 1972, the Gandharva Choir represented India at the Third International Choral Festival held in the United States under the auspices of the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts in New York City. As part of the festival, the Choir gave performances at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center and at several American Universities. The Choir also participated in the International Choral Festivals held in Philippines in 1981, and Hungary & Poland in 1984.
The Gandharva Choir performs regularly at various prestigious Government functions, as well as for the Doordarshan (the National TV channel of India), and the All India Radio. It has been featured in various festivals all over the country.
Late Pandit Vinaya Chandra Maudgalya
Multifaceted personality, renowned musicologist, performer, music educator and vaggyekara (Hindustani-composer) Pandit Vinaya Chandra Maudgalya was the Founder Principal of the 'Gandharva Mahavidyalaya' and Director of the 'Gandharva Choir'. Born on 2nd April, 1918, he had his early music training at the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Lahore (now in Pakistan) and was later trained at Pune under the eminent musician, late Pandit Vinayak Rao Patwardhan, a disciple of late Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar.
Pandit Maudgalya had been an advisor and music composer of songs for the 'N.C.E.R.T, a member of Board of studies, an examiner in Music at several Universities and a member of the Audition Board at 'All India Radio'. He was one of the National Conductors and a member of the Programme Advisory Committee. He was the Chairman of the 'Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal, Mumbai' and Director of the Saraswati Samaj, New Delhi.
He contributed articles and biographies in news-persons, magazines and journals and was a writer in the field of Indian Music; he was the associate editor of two journals "The Indian Music Journal and Sangeet Kala Vihar". His monograph "Pandit Omkar Nath Thakur" (biography) was published by the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi (1966) and the book "Sangeet Bacchon Ke liye" published by the Publications Division of the Government of India (1987). "Geet Manjari" is the collection of his over 100 selected classical compositions with notations (1990); another publication 'Gunjan' contains 20 songs on various themes to be sung by children of different age groups. His several compositions for choral singing are available in books and with the A.I.R. archives.
He made pioneering efforts for propagation of music amongst general masses. To benefit the students and scholars he had been organizing music soirees, work-shops, conferences and symposia on Indian music.
Pandit Maudgalya visited the Soviet Union as a member of the Indian Cultural Delegation in 1971 and again in 1976 at the invitation of the Department of Culture
of the U.S.S.R. where he studied the Soviet System of Music Education with special attention to choral singing from the primary to the conservatory level. He took the "Gandharva Choir" to the United States of America in 1972. "Gandharva Choir" also represented India at the International Festivals held in
Philippines (1981), Hungary and Poland (1984). Sponsored by the I.C.C.R. he conducted a lecture demonstration tour to France, Holland, Austria and U.K. in 1988 and China in July 1990.
For his contributions in various aspects of Music he won several prestigious honours: Padmashri Award (1984), Sahitya Kala Parishad Samman (Delhi Administration) (1987), Ustad Hafiz Ali- Memorial Society Samman (1994), besides the Rotary Club Award (1993), Delhi Citizen Council Award (1990), Raja Ram Mohan Roy Teachers Award (1987) and amongst many others.
Pandit Madhup Mudgal
From the very first note he utters, you know you are in the presence of someone who is not just a magnificent singer and scholar, but one who has also meditated deeply upon the meaning of his music. Madhup Mudgal is a moving and reassuring example of uncompromising purity.
Madhup’s initial training was under his father, Pandit Vinayachandra Maudgalya, the founder-principal of Delhi’s Gandharava Mahavidyalaya, one of the oldest institutes for classical music and dance in Delhi, which he currently heads. He also trained under Pandit Vasant Thakar, Pandit Jasraj and Pandit Kumar Gandharva.
He has performed extensively at important platforms and festivals in India and abroad including the Avignon Festival, France; Dartington College of Music, England; S.E.S.C., Sao Paulo, Brazil; Festival de Arte e Cultura Indiana, Sao Paolo, Brazil; Theatre de la Ville, Paris; Philharmonie, Essen, Germany; Altstadtherst Kulturfestival, Dusseldorf, Germany; WDR Radio, Germany; Berlin Festpiele, Germany; and Pina Bausch’s Festival in Wuppertal, Germany. He features regularly on Indian radio and television.
Madhup’s musical sensibility, his impeccable training, his dedication, and intelligence mark him out as one of the finest artistes with a deep awareness of, and sensitivity to the fine balance between tradition and innovation. His deep roots allow him to dialogue with other disciplines without losing sight of his own truth.
Madhup’s classicism has not prevented him from innovating and experimenting. As conductor of the acclaimed Gandharva Choir, he has proved himself to be a brilliant composer of choral music. Madhup’s compositions for famous dancers are well known and much appreciated by both connoisseurs and lay listeners. He has also performed in fusion concerts with eminent Jazz musicians Paulo Moura and Hermeto Pascoal in Brazil in 1996; and in 2003, he worked with 35 Brazilian percussionists from Samba schools and the famous pianist Benjamim Taubkin to compose music for a dance show at the Theatre SESC Balenzinho, Sao Paulo.
His introspective vision, feeling and deep insight into the soul- searching poetry of great Indian saint poets has resulted in many compositions.
His recorded music includes:
1. Ragas (Arisco, Brazil)
2. Classics (Rhythm House)
3. Kabir Bhajan (2 Volumes; Music Today)
4. Swarotsav (Music Today)
5. Sa Re Ga Ma (HMV)
6. Samvaad (Music Today)
He is the recipient of many awards including the President of India’s honour of Padmashri in 2006.