September 7, 2005
NRI (non-resident Indian) Dr. Mohinder Sambhi
donated $1 million to establish the Mohindar Brar
Sambhi Endowed Chair in Indian Music, named in
honor of his late wife. The department is part of
the School of the Arts and Architecture at UCLA (UCLArts).
The endowed chair will support the teaching and research
activities of a distinguished faculty member by underwriting
graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, staff
and services, and special projects, and will ensure
that the study of Indian music will continue at UCLA.
The chair will be inaugurated at a concert featuring
Shujaat Khan, sitar, and Abhiman Kaushal, tabla, on
Sunday, Oct. 2 at UCLA's Schoenberg Hall.
"It is gratifying that I can honor my wife with
a gift that will ensure that the study of Indian musical
culture will continue to be supported at UCLA,"
said Sambhi, a professor emeritus in the David Geffen
School of Medicine at UCLA.
"Dr. Sambhi's pledge to my knowledge
the largest-ever private gift for Indian music study
to a university has enormous value for the
field of ethnomusicology, which has for a half-century
championed the teaching of Indian music, as well as
other musical traditions from around the world, in
American universities," said Daniel Neuman, provost
and executive vice chancellor of UCLA and a scholar
of Indian music. "This gift will ensure the continued
commitment to teaching and scholarship of Indian music
"We are extremely grateful to Dr. Sambhi for
his confidence in our program and in our goal to attract
the best performers and scholars of Indian classical
music to UCLA," said professor Jacqueline DjeDje,
chair of the department of ethnomusicology.
The Mohindar Brar Sambhi Endowed Chair in Indian
Music is part of UCLA's Ensuring Academic Excellence
Initiative, a five-year effort aimed at generating
$250 million in private commitments specifically for
the recruitment and retention of the very best faculty
and graduate students. The initiative was launched
in June 2004. Its goals include $100 million to fund
100 new endowed chairs for faculty across campus,
increasing the number to 331. In addition, campus
officials plan to increase support for an estimated
3,500 graduate students per year by raising $100 million
to fund fellowships and scholarships in the UCLA College
and $50 million for fellowships and scholarships in
UCLA's 11 professional schools.
History of Indian music at UCLA
From 1960 to 1989, the ethnomusicology degree program
at UCLA was housed within the music department. Faculty
interested in musical cultures of the world worked
within the department's Institute of Ethnomusicology,
which was established in 1960 by the late ethnomusicology
pioneer Mantle Hood. Under the visionary leadership
of scholars such as Hood, the study of Indian music
at UCLA was developed within the institute. The earliest
teacher of Indian music at UCLA was the late T. Vishwanathan
from South India, who taught flute and vocal music.
From 1961 to 1966, Harihar Rao a former student
of Ravi Shankar served as director of the Indian
Studies Group in the institute. When Rao arrived at
UCLA, there were no sitars and only one set of worn-out
tablas. Rao was able to procure new instruments from
New Delhi, and for the next four years he taught sitar
and tabla and prepared students to perform in annual
spring concerts. He also worked with local jazz musicians,
including Don Ellis, to exchange Indian rhythmic ideas.
Rao left UCLA in 1966 to do field work in India and
returned in 1968 to direct the Indian Studies Group
for one more year. In 1963, Hood brought in South
Indian artist Gayathri Rajapur a vocalist and
a gottuvadyam player who taught in the music
department from 1964 to 1965.
In 1975, Nazir Jairazbhoy was appointed a professor
in the music department. From that year until his
retirement in 1994, he taught courses on folk and
classical music of India, musical cultures of Asia,
field and laboratory methods, transcription, and organology.
He also served as director of the Music of India performance
ensemble developed out of the Indian Studies
Group which included sitar and tabla instruction.
During this 20-year period, a number of Indian artists
came to UCLA for brief residencies, among them master
sitar player Imrat Khan of the Imdad Khan gharana
(tradition). His brother, Vilayat Khan, came to UCLA
for a two-week residency as a Regents' Lecturer. Since
Jairazbhoy's retirement, Amy Catlin has been teaching
the Indian music courses.
The Institute of Ethnomusicology was closed in 1975.
In 1989, the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology and
Systematic Musicology was formed as an independent
department with professor Jairazbhoy serving as its
Shujaat Khan son of Vilayat Khan has
been teaching sitar in the department of ethnomusicology
since 1996. Shujaat Khan was joined in 1998 by Abhiman
Kaushal, who teaches tabla. These two remarkable artists
co-directors of the Music of India Ensemble
have provided solid training to many dedicated
student musicians, some of whom have become fluent
exponents of Indian musical traditions. During the
200304 academic year, Nishat Khan, son of Imrat
Khan, taught sitar in the department. These artists
have all, in their own way, helped to consolidate
the nearly 50-year tradition of Indian music teaching
and performance at UCLA.