- Manu Sharma, Sitar Niketan Student
- Meem Haque, Sitar Niketan Student
Alif Laila is the founder and guru of Sitar Niketan. An internationally recognized professional sitarist, Alif has been teaching Indian classical music for over 20 years. Alif created Sitar Niketan to pass down her musical knowledge that she received from her gurus, and make her hopes of blossoming it with refreshed reality. The vision of Sitar Niketan encompasses her dream of a world resonating the beauty of sitar. Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Alif’s mother first encouraged her to start learning sitar. She began her musical journey with studying under the late Ustad Mir Qasem Khan, a celebrated Bangladeshi sitarist, studied as a disciple of his uncle, the legendary Ustad Allaudin Khan. She was trained by Mir Qasem in the Senia Maihar gharana, the gharana she teaches today.
Alif moved to the United States after she earned her fine arts degree from Dhaka University. She persisted studying sitar, learning under several celebrated contemporary sitarists including Partha Chatterjee, Krishna Bhatt and Kushal Das. She continued to expand her knowledge and passion for sitar under these gurus.
She began her career as a full-time musician in 2000. Her premiere performance was at the Bangladesh National Museum. She played the concert alongside the living legend of tabla, Pandit Anindo Chatterjee.
Since then she has become a well-established performer in world music. Alif has played alongside many of the biggest names in Indian classical music. Her audio-visual work of based on raags and nature was presented in the Smithsonian’s 2008 Women's History Month events. She has entertained crowds at venues and music festivals across North America, Europe, and Asia including famous venues such as the Kennedy and Southbank Centers, UNESCO, Paris. In 2010 her album, Strings of Resonance, received a nomination for the Best Classical Music Award in Bangladesh. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award from ASHA (Wag DC)for her cultural contribution to the community. Aramco World featured Alif in 2020 as an eminent creative sitar artist.
Outside of performing, composing, directing, and producing Indian classical music concerts, Alif continues to work tirelessly guiding her students. Alif dedicates much of her time organizing projects to strengthen Sitar Niketan’s community. The growth of creative new ideas and music for sitar is her constant endeavor. She consistently seeks professional musicians across all genres for new collaborative projects.
“[Sitar Niketan] is not coming to just learn an instrument… It’s much more than that. It’s a personal thing. It’s something like a family… It’s a very positive inclusive type of energy that she [Alif Laila] has created. It goes beyond just trying to learn how to play sitar.”
- John Carr, Sitar Niketan Student
Mission of Sitar Niketan
The mission of Sitar Niketan is to spread the peaceful resonance of sitar out into the world. Sitar Niketan hopes to pass down the knowledge and traditions of Alif’s gurus, to its students, the community and beyond. We seek to establish a community where the beauty of South Asian culture resonate through music and continues to thrive. Sitar Niketan hopes to spread peace and unity through music.
Sitar Niketan envisions a world where music strengthens the bonds of humanity and ends conflict: A vision where the spiritual resonance of sitar radiates in every person.
Sitar Niketan’s works towards this vision through teaching students. The creation of a fully trained and accomplished sitarist community is its hope. Sitar Niketan has Alif Laila’s advanced pupils performing and teaching the next generation as its intended legacy. The continuation of sitar’s message of beauty and inner peace lives through them.
Sharing the rich heritage of Indian Classical Sitar at QAIC Community Day is a soft kick-off for the upcoming Cross Cultural exhibition this fall.
Free registration here :