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Anuradha Pal – a Tabla virtuoso, multi-percussionist and music composer.

the first professional female tabla player in the world by Encyclopedia Britannica and the Limca Book of Records.


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Anuradha Pal

As the first female in a traditionally male dominated field, she

As the first female in a traditionally male dominated field, she “stormed the male bastion of Indian rhythm” and has today established herself as not only a great Tabla soloist and accompanist but also as one of the most innovative percussionists and composers, who is constantly reinventing and pushing the dimensions with her experimentations and collaborations with musicians and musical genres from across the globe.

In January 2018 she was awarded with the prestigious First Ladies Award, by the President of India for being the first and youngest female Indian musician to perform at the world famous WOMAD and Woodstock Festivals.

She is empanelled as an Outstanding category musician with Ministry of Culture & Indian Council for Cultural Relations and is a Top graded Vidushi of All India Radio.

A favourite disciple of Tabla Legends Ustad Alla Rakha and Zakir Hussain, Anuradha has been hailed as a ‘Rhythm Queen’, ‘Tabla phenomenon’, ‘Trail blazer’Trendsetterfor societies around the world’, a prominent Torchbearerof Indian Classical Music‘, and a ‘Woman of Pure Wonder’ for her dedication & contribution in propagating Indian Music and as an icon of female empowerment.

Following the Covid-19 pandemic in India, she won immense appreciation after launching the Kala Ke Sangh campaign that has helped over 350 marginalised musicians and instrument makers in 20 states across India, who have been suffering due to loss of income following the prolonged lockdowns, with monetary help and food rations.

Anuradha Pal was born in Mumbai to pharmaceutical doyen, Devinder Pal and painter-writer Ila Pal. She initiated her tabla training under Shri Manikrao Popatkar and Pt. Madan Mishra, both of the Benares Gharana and finally became a Ganda Bandhan shagird of Ustad Alla Rakha and Ustad Zakir Hussain[8] of the Punjab Gharana.

Early life

Anuradha Pal was born in Mumbai to pharmaceutical doyen, Devinder Pal and painter-writer Ila Pal. She initiated her tabla training under Shri Manikrao Popatkar and Pt. Madan Mishra, both of the Benares Gharana and finally became a Ganda Bandhan shagird of Ustad Alla Rakha and Ustad Zakir Hussain[8] of the Punjab Gharana.

A child prodigy, she gave her first performance for Doordarshan at the age of 10.5 years. With her work incredible Tayyari, Layakari and immaculate presentation she was described as the Lady Zakir Hussain by Maharashtra Times, when she was just seventeen.

Career

Professional Accomplishments

She has accompanied musicians  such as Pt. Jasraj, Pt. Shivkumar Sharma, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Smt. Girija Devi, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Ustad Sultan Khan, Ustad Shahid Parvez, Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt; young maestros  like Rakesh Chaurasia, Rahul Sharma, Sabir Khan & Niladri Kumar, as well as Jazz, Latin, Western Classical, Flamenco, Folk and African musicians.

She has performed for then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj, Maneka Gandhi, Smriti Irani & Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and others.

She composed the background score for M.F. Husain’s film Gaja Gamini. She has also composed music for short films, documentaries, theatre and other commissioned work and events.

She has conducted Lecture Demonstrations and workshops at Harvard University, Berklee College of Music, M.I.T (USA), Vienna Boys Choir, Palazzo Ducale (Italy), MilapFest (U.K), Monash University (Australia), IIT Mumbai, TEDxBITS Pilani, to name a few. She was invited as an artist-in-residence by the New England Conservatory of Music in 2006.

She collaborated with NDR Bigband from Germany at the India Week Hamburg 2017. Here, the orchestra presented three of her compositions (Energy, Just One God and Cloud 9).

She contributed in the research for the books ‘Relationship between Music, Language & the Brain’ at Neurosciences University, San Diego and ‘Study of Tabla, Aesthetics & Complexities’ at the Harvard Science Centre.

She represented India at the Asian Performer’s Summit in Japan in 1999.

Masters of Indian Music Festival, Young Music Wizards of India, Asia Society, Ali Akbar Khan Festival, Basant Bahar Festival, MITHAS, Learnquest Music Festival.

Performances at music festivals

USA – Masters of Indian Music Festival, Young Music Wizards of India, Asia Society, Ali Akbar Khan Festival, Basant Bahar Festival, MITHAS, Learnquest Music Festival.

UK – WOMAD (Reading), Bath International Music festival, MilapFest, Commonwealth Games Festival, City of London Festival, Asian Music Festival, Rhythm Sticks Festival, Greenwich & Docklands Festival, Darbar Festival, Cardiff Jazz Festival, BBC Music Live Festival (Scotland).

EUROPE – Woodstock Festival (Poland), Voices of the World Festival (Denmark), Sangam Indian Music Festival (Germany), Museum Rietberg (Switzerland), Festival Musicale del Mediterraneo (Italy), Theatre de la Ville (France), Night of the Virtuosos Festival (Reunion Islands), Amrita Sher-Gil Cultural Centre, University of Esztergom (Hungary), The Music Academy, Zadar Puppet Theatre, Croatian National Theatre (Croatia), Madlenianum Opera and Theatre (Serbia).

ASIA – Global Fusion Festival (Dubai), Vrindavan Festival (Hong Kong), Bangkok International Music Festival (Thailand), Victoria Arts Hall (Singapore), Tokyo Music festival, Phoenix Music Festival (Japan).

AFRICA – Night of the Virtuosos Festival (Mauritius), CHOGM Summit (Nigeria)

AUS/ NZ – Bellingen Global Carnival, Carnevale Festival, Queensland Performing Arts Complex, The Octagon

OTHER – Festival of India (Brazil), Festival Musique Multi Montreal (Canada)

Awards and media recognition

Awards

Anuradha Pal has received several prestigious awards.

Year
Award Name
Organisation
2021
Global Woman of Worth Achievers Award
CMO Global
2020
Kishori Amonkar Saraswati Sadhana Samman
Kalashraya Society
2020
Best Female Tabla player award
K&K Social Foundation
2019
Makhan Lal Haldar Memorial Award
Shrikshetra Kala Prakashika
2019
Taal Brahmavaadini
Shrikshetra Kala Prakashika, Puri
2018
Vagadhara Navratna Samman
Vagadhara & Murarka Foundation
2018
Maharana Kumbha Samman
Maharana Kumbha Sangeet Parishad
2018
Excellence Award for Women
Malayala Manorama & Swasthi Foundation
2018
Femina Women Super Achiever Award
World HRD Congress
2018
First Ladies Award
2017
Women’s Achiever’s Award
Inner Wheel Club of Bombay Airport
2017
Surabhi Award
Aashirwad Foundation
2017
Rotary Vocational Appreciation Award
Rotary Club of Bombay West
2016
Woman of Excellence Award
FICCI FLO Ahmedabad
2016
All India Radio/ Doordarshan Top Grade
Prasar Bharati, New Delhi
2015
Women Achievers’ Award
Young Environmentalists
2014
Fempowerment Award
Molecule Communications
2013
Dagar Gharana Samman
2011
Malva Taal Shiromani Samman
Malva Sangeet Manch Samiti
2010
Excellence Award
Canada
2010
Adwitiya Stree Shakti Puraskar
Kalidas Academy, Ujjain
2009
Star Taal Award
Star TV
2007
Zee Astitva Award
Zee Network
2006
Sanskrutic Puraskar
Government of Maharashtra
1999
Best Musician Award
1997
Taal Ratna
Bhatkhande Lalit Shiksha Samiti
1995
Vocational Excellence award
Rotary Club, Mumbai
1993
Mahakal Samman
Mahakaleshwar Samiti, Ujjain
1990
Taal Mani
Sur Singar Samsad, Mumbai
1989
Gold Medal
All India Youth Festival, Roorkee

Featured as one of the pre-eminent Torchbearers of Indian Classical Music in a book released in 2017 along with other young maestros like Mandolin U. Srinivas, Shankar Mahadevan, Kaushiki Chakraborty, amongst many others.

Media Recognition

Featured as one of the pre-eminent Torchbearers of Indian Classical Music in a book released in 2017 along with other young maestros like Mandolin U. Srinivas, Shankar Mahadevan, Kaushiki Chakraborty, amongst many others.

Featured as a Woman of Pure Wonder in a book by Vodafone Foundation in 2016 along with Justice Leila Seth, Sanjana Kapoor, Shovana Narayan, Deepa Malik, amongst various other women achievers.

Featured on Polish TV’s major European channel as Asia’s Youth Icon in 2008.

Featured in Documentary Gender Bender on women who have excelled & broken barriers in male dominated fields in 2006.

Featured in a film titled Woman of Substance by Doordarshan National Archives in 2006.

Featured in a documentary titled All About Her on Times Now channel in 2004.

Featured in the film Adventure Divas by the American Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) as one of the great women achievers of India and the World in 2001.

BBC World Service broadcast Anuradha Pal’s Stree Shakti LIVE at WOMAD Festival in 56 countries in 1999.

Featured in the documentary titled Aaj ki Nari by Films Division of India in 1999.

BBC Radio World Service Program featured her as one of the Five Prominent Women Musicians of India in 1991.

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