In early March, the East-West School of Music Center at Ananda Ashram inaugurated its official music room. Ananda Ashram, located in the foothills of the Catskills in Harriman, was founded in 1964 by Ramamurti S. Mishra. In 1978, the East-West School of Music began. With this new room dedicated to music, the school hopes to expand its classes and opportunities for those wishing to learn both Eastern and Western music.
Acharya Roop Verma, the director of the music school, is an internationally respected sitarist, teacher, and composer of Indian Classical and sacred music. He has trained extensively with maestros Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan. He emphasizes the meditative and healing qualities of music, particularly through Nada Yoga—the exploration of consciousness through sound and vibration. Roop Verma also leads Nada Yoga retreats, where listeners experience a weekend of meditation, inner reflection, and relaxation through music.
The school also offers monthly classes in North Indian vocal music taught by Deepak Kumar, a traditional style vocalist from Rajasthan, India. He studied under the guidance of his father, Shri P.N. Vyas, and then later on with Ustad R.F. Dagar, Ustad Mionuddin Khan, and Mohinderjit Singh. His material ranges various music styles, including devotional bhajans, kirtan, ghazals, classic film songs, and his own compositions. He is also an accomplished guitarist, keyboardist, and harmonium player.Naren Budhakar, a master tabla player, offers lessons and classes as well. Born in India, he began playing tabla at an early age. He has accompanied many vocalists, instrumentalists, and dancers of India. He has also performed widely throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. He has been nominated as a guest artist for the Latin Grammy awards in 2006 and has been featured on MTV in India. He has performed at the house of the Indian United Nations ambassador and at the US Open tennis tournament in 2009. He continues to study with Ustad Shabbir Nisar.
Michael Braudy is an internationally recognized violinist, bridging Western classical, Celtic, and Indian classical music, blending his background into his classes as he teaches. He actively collaborates with a diverse range of poets, storytellers, and dancers. He has studied Western violin with Raphael Bronstein and Dorothy Delay. He also continues his study of Indian music with Roop Verma, Pandit V.G. Jog, and Pandit Krishna Bhatt. He records Celtic and Indian music.
According to Roop Verma, “The study of music brings one more in touch with the creative energies that sustain and nourish one’s life.” The school is dedicated to the discovery of music as an experience of inner peace through outer sound vibrations. Anyone who wishes to attend classes, seminars, or retreats can visit the East-West School of Music website for the full list of classes and more information.