Founded by Bhai Baldeep Singh in 2008, the Anād Foundation has sponsored dozens of projects to promote and preserve the tangible and intangible cultural heritage traditions of South Asia. The foundation has produced, in collaboration with Anād Records Private Limited, CD’s of rare vintage recordings, has organized numerous lectures, seminars and multi-media presentations, and has delivered several concert series to raise awareness and educate the community. Through grants and awards, the Anād Foundation has also recognized the contributions of artists, poets and scholars.
Realizing that education is the key to cultural preservation, The Anād Foundation is currently restoring an ancient fort, the Qila Sarai at Sultanpur Lodhi, and transforming it into the Anād Conservatory, an institution dedicated to training musicians and instrument makers, and cultivating other arts, crafts and cultural traditions. The Anād Conservatory will also build a library and studio to continue the Anād Foundation’s efforts to restore and preserve old recordings and documents.
For more than two decades, Bhai Baldeep Singh has dedicated his energies to the rich cultural heritage traditions of South Asia. Through thirteen generations of oral tradition, his family has carefully carried a vast repertoire of Sikh hymns from the Guru times. Bhai Baldeep has extended this memory through his extensive research and travels, seeking out the elders in remote villages and distant lands to collect and compile all the fragments that remain. Recognizing the importance of preserving the musical traditions within the context of the entire cultural heritage from which they evolved, Bhai Baldeep has reached out across national, ethnic, religious and intellectual boundaries, learning and sharing with all who are interested in participating in the conversation of cultural preservation. He is a scholar of tradition as well as a practitioner, teacher and performer. He has restored interest in the old instruments on the verge of extinction, and has personally handcrafted them thereby reviving these precious musical assets back to life. Bhai Baldeep built a state-of-the-art Anād audio-restoration studios, where he has logged thousands of hours restoring an extensive collection of rare recordings as well as recording living masters and contemporary artists. He also has served on many boards and committees including The Anād Foundation, The Khalsa Heritage Complex and The National Sangeet Natak Akademi.
Bhai Baldeep Singh has developed a unique and comprehensive educative process based on the ancient modes of teaching in the oral tradition and has taught aspiring instrumentalists and vocalists around the world. This month, from February 9 to February 20, The Anād Conservatory will be hosting a twelve-day kirtan workshop at the Qila in Sultanpur Lodhi, which will bring together men, women and children from India, Canāda, The United States, United Kingdon and Italy. There will be no harmoniums in this kirtan class. Instead, the instruments of the Sikh Guru times are being revived. Tanpuras will accompany the singing and several of the students are learning to play stringed instruments such as taus, rabab, dilruba and saranda, and percussion instruments such as pakhawaj, jori and tabla. All the facets of Gurbani Kirtan will be taught, including vocal and instrumental music, the ragas, talas and poetic forms of Guru-Bani, as well as the process of developing the inner focus of the musician.
Since 1997, a group of international students has been meeting twice annually in North America for intensive study with Bhai Baldeep Singh. The gathering in Sultanpur Lodhi will be both the annual winter kirtan workshop for these students and a celebration of the Anād Conservatory’s inaugural year. Although this will be the group’s 30th gathering, it is the first time the workshop will be in India.
Some of the international students are NRI’s or come from families with a Punjabi or Sikh heritage. Others have chosen the Sikh way of life, and learning kirtan is an important part of their commitment to the path of Guru Nanak. Several of these American and European Sikhs are elders who began practicing the Khalsa way of life as students of Yogi Harbhajan Singh Khalsa in the 1970’s.
At the Qila in Sultanpur Lodhi, the international students will be joined by Bhai Baldeep’s music students from India, local youth from the Sultanpur area, Bhauwaru Khan Langa, who it the son of noted algoza and saranda player Mehardin Langa and a group of young Manganiar musicians from Rajasthan, the grandsons of the world-renowned musician, Sakar Khan. This workshop will bring together a diverse group of people who have been involved with and inspired by Bhai Baldeep Singh and the projects of Anād Foundation. It is fitting that Sultanpur Lodhi, the historic home of Guru Nanak, will be the setting for this remarkable event that embraces diversity in the tradition of Guru Nanak, looking past differences of age, gender, race, religion, and nationality, to celebrate Oneness through the alchemy of music.