Sublime Sounds of the Himalayas
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Sublime Sounds of the Himalayas

Sublime Sounds of the Himalayas

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North Water Street Gallery

300 N. Water Street, Suite H

Kent, OH 44240

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Standing Rock Cultural Arts'
"Around the World" Music Series
presents
❋❋❋ Sublime Sounds of the Himalayas ❋❋❋
featuring the Druk Fusion Band
8:00 p.m., Saturday, December 10, 2016
North Water Street Gallery
300 N. Water Street, Suite H
Kent, Ohio
$10 suggested donation (or pay what you can)
preceded by 7:30 p.m. meet-and-greet featuring light food and drinks

Making their first-ever Kent appearance, the Druk Fusion Band will treat listeners to a colorful program of music from their homeland of Bhutan deep in the Himalaya Mountains, reputed to be the happiest country on earth. Lyrics will be sung in the Nepali language, with introductions and stories behind the songs presented by the group's founder and lead vocalist Puspa Gajmer.

A 7:30 p.m. meet-and-greet featuring complimentary snacks (including momo, traditional Bhutanese dumplings) will precede the 8 p.m. program. A variety of beverages will be on hand for a nominal charge.

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Named for the druk, or thunder dragon, which serves as the symbol of Bhutan (appearing on that nation's flag), the DRUK FUSION BAND was formed by Puspa Gajmer in 2014 to perform the traditional and modern songs of the Nepali Bhutanese people, while remaining open to influences from across the globe.

Based in the North Hill neighborhood of Akron, Ohio, which has since 2008 become the new home for over 8,000 Bhutanese people of Nepali heritage, the group has performed for numerous events sponsored by Nepali Bhutanese communities in Ohio and Illinois, also giving frequent performances for public libraries, international festivals, and similar community events throughout the Akron-Cleveland area.

In the summer of 2016 the Druk Fusion Band was invited to perform with the Akron Symphony Orchestra on three occasions, this opportunity representing the first time a Nepali Bhutanese musical group has been featured with a U.S. symphony orchestra.

The band's members include Puspa Gajmer, lead vocals and guitar; Sushil Bishwakarma, bansuri (bamboo flute), Tek Sinchuri, tabla and madal drums; Arun Gajmer, naal and tabla drums; Bishnu Sunar, guitar; and Subash Ghatani, harmonium.

Vocalist, guitarist, songwriter, and composer PUSPA GAJMER was born into a farming family in Damphu, a town in the Chirang district of southern Bhutan, which is blessed with a mild climate, gentle slopes, and rich biodiversity. In 1990, along with more than 100,000 people of Nepali heritage who had lived in Bhutan for generations, he and his family were forced to relocate to a refugee camp in Nepal due to civil unrest and a campaign of ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the Bhutanese regime.

In spite of great hardship, while living in the camps Gajmer learned English, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tribhuvan University in the Jhapa District of eastern Nepal, and taught at the Oasis Academy and Himalayan English Academy. From 1996 to 2003 he studied music with Kiran Rasaily at RIFF, the School of Western Music in Birtamode/Damak, Jhapa, continuing his classical guitar studies in Imphal, Manipur, India with his guru Aribam Uttam Sharma in 2005 and 2006, while also teaching at the Grace Academy there. During his years in Nepal he had the opportunity to perform at high schools and colleges throughout the country, and in 2010 he returned to RIFF to join and perform with the school's newly created guitar ensemble.

After having spent more than 20 years in Nepal, Gajmer came to the U.S. with his family in 2011, settling first in Illinois (and studying at Black Hawk College in Moline, Illinois from 2011 to 2013), then finally in Akron's North Hill neighborhood in 2013. Realizing that there was keen interest in learning music among those in his community, Gajmer began giving private lessons in his home, then in the spring of 2016 established the Himalayan Music Academy in North Hill, where students of all ages and backgrounds can obtain instruction in a wide variety of instruments as well as traditional dance, yoga and meditation, and Nepali language.

Aside from his work with the Druk Fusion Band and Himalayan Music Academy, Gajmer is pursuing a music degree at Akron University, and completing work on a CD of his music, which is scheduled for release in early 2017. Several of his songs have been recorded by well-known singers in Nepal, including Sanup Paudel and Suresh Kumar. He continues to work closely with the strong network of local community and mutual aid organizations such as the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron (BCAA).

The Druk Fusion Band's lead guitarist is BISHNU SUNAR, who also sings with the band. He has performed widely throughout Nepal, and while living there he worked for many years as a radio DJ and assistant school teacher.

Also joining the performance will be the band's newest member, SUSHIL BISHWAKARMA, a distinguished and renowned Nepali bansuri (bamboo flute) and harmonium player, composer, and recording artist, who relocated to Akron in the spring of 2016. Formerly based in Kathmandu where he served as Senior Music Director and Arranger at Radio Nepal for 30 years, Bishwakarma has toured internationally with some of Nepal's most famous performers, visiting India, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany, and the UK.

Among Bishwakarma's many awards are the Narayan Gopal Yuwa Puraskar (1999) and the Order of Gorkha Dakshina Bahu, one of Nepal's highest honors, which was presented to him by the nation's king, Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah, in 2004. Dozens of Bishwakarma's songs have been recorded by prominent singers in both Nepal and Bhutan, including Shiva Shankar Manandhar, Prem Dhwaj Pradhan, Yogesh Baiddhya, Ganesh Rasik, Hiranya Bhojpure, Madan Krishna Shrestha, Rambhakta Jojiju, Sapana Shree, Jagdish Samal, Rajesh Payal Rai, and Yam Baral. His compositions have appeared in films and television, and in 2007 he won first prize in Nepal's National Modern Song Competition.

Himalayan Music Academy Facebook page:

Sushil Bishwakarma Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/sushil.bishwakarma.1/

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The North Water Street Gallery is conveniently located just a block north of the intersection of Main and Water Streets in Kent, Ohio, with free street parking on both sides of the street. Seating is limited, so arrive early for the best seats.

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Established in 2015, the "Around the World" Music Series is a concert series presenting outstanding musicians from diverse cultures in an intimate setting.

Concerts are held approximately every other month in the new theater space of the North Water Street Gallery in downtown Kent, Ohio.

The series is an initiative of Standing Rock Cultural Arts, and is curated by ethnomusicologist David Badagnani.

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Standing Rock Cultural Arts official site:
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North Water Street Gallery

300 N. Water Street, Suite H

Kent, OH 44240

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