Indian-Americans in Western Classical Music

As far back as December 1995, the widely read news magazine India Today published an article by Lavina Melwani entitled Cultural Symphony in which she drew attention to the growing number of Americans of South Asian origin who were making a name for themselves in the Classical Music field.

(Clockwise from left)
Indira Mahajan, center, at the Glimmerglass Opera
Odin Rathnam; Robert Gupta; and Priya Mayadas: rising stars

In particular, she mentioned Priya Mayadas, then 28, as being one of “those fast-becoming-familiar names. Winner of the Young Artists of the Year Award from the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Mayadas is a successful concert pianist in New York. She has been playing since the age of three, and at nine received the Student Composer Award from Broadcast Music Incorporated.”

Melwani went on to write that Priya “didn’t have to look far for inspiration. Father Azim and mother Lolita Mayadas were both well-known concert pianists in India and ran the Calcutta School of Music. ‘Priya is a reflective musician with a finely honed and expressive technique,’ says David Buechner of the Manhattan School of Music.”

“So how does it feel to be a minority in such a mainstream profession? ‘Being an Indian female is a bit unusual,’ says Mayadas. ‘I feel rather special.'”

As to her parents, they were remembered much earlier by Aveek Sen, a violinist, concertgoer and Western Music critic in Calcutta, India: in an article entitled “Requiem for a Lost City” published in 1990 he bemoaned the loss of the Calcutta Symphony Orchestra in the 1980’s; also, the departure of “Lolita and Azim Lewis Mayadas — the unforgettably charismatic and distinguished first couple of music-making in Calcutta — who (at a 1972 music festival) gave a two-piano recital, playing Stravinsky, Brahms and Rachmaninoff.”

The couple, with three daughters in tow, emigrated to the United States in 1975 and settled down initially in Rochester, New York, where Lolita taught at the Hochstein School of Music and Azim was hired as the Assistant General Manager of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Three years later the family moved to Miami when Azim was appointed General Manager of the Florida Philhamonic and Lolita became his Administrative Director.

Despite the heavy work load, they found time to give two-piano recitals locally and in surrounding South Florida venues. Memorable was the reception accorded to them in West Palm Beach, which was already familiar to Azim, as he had occasionally programmed orchestral ‘run-out’ concerts there or in neighboring locales up and down the Atlantic coast.

After three years in Florida, they moved back to the Northeast, this time to New Jersey, first Teaneck, then Englewood, their ‘home-town’ now for over 35 years. While in Teaneck, Lolita was hired in 1981 as Executive Director of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts and a year later Azim as its Managing Director in charge of Institutional Membership.

Thereafter, they ran with the ball and built a near bankrupt non-profit organization into the powerhouse it is today. They retired from NGCSA in 2001, but still continue to work at matters close to their heart: Lolita at her newly formed NotePerfect Project and Azim at his blog on a wide-ranging matters of concern to him and to those around him – pros and cons!

References: Wikipedia; My Diaries

Dear Readers,
You number over 70,000 in just over 2 1/2 years ago back in February 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me, if you would please consider making a donation of US $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!
Copyright © 2017 Azim Lewis Mayadas

 

 

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