— INTERMISSION —

Accompanying Artists:

Amika Kushwaha – Harmonium
Baljit Singh – Dilruba
Dr. Kamljeet Singh Banwait – Harmonium
Ram Nayyar – Poetry translation
Ashifa Tharani – Poetry translation
Disha Mehta – Taanmandal

Backstage Crew:

Stage Manager – Ashifa Tharan
Tech Manager – Inder Kanwal
Health and Wellness ‘Dog’tor – ILU ILU

Malika-e-Ghazal (Queen of Ghazal)

25 Dec.1934 – 14 Mar.2004

Mushtari Begum was the first Indian Ghazal exponent whose father hailed from Lucknow, India and was born in the Islands of Fiji.

Cassius Khan

Vocalist & Tablaist

The globally renowned Cassius Khan stuns his audiences by performing his trademark style, which is to sing the classical styles of Ghazal and Thumri and play Tabla at the same time. Traditionally, Ghazal singers are known to play the Harmonium and be accompanied by another individual on Tabla. But Cassius has flipped the equation and popularized it, which is a first for Indian classical music. Khan has toured extensively and has performed with and worked on numerous albums with some of the world’s most finest musicians. Besides his performances in the Indian classical genre, Khan has paired his musical talents with a variety of styles such as Heavy Metal, Jazz, Electronica, and Blues. He has been featured on a TV ad, and recently, performed for the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations twice in 2017 and 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. The list of Khan’s accolades includes a 2011 Western Canadian Music Award nomination, the 2005 Salute to Excellence Award from the Alberta Government, and a nomination for the City of New Westminster’s Chamber of Commerce awards as Artist of the Year in 2016 and 2017.

Amika Kushwaha

Kathak Dancer & Harmonium Artist

Amika Kushwaha is one of the few Kathak artists in Canada who pairs her performances with live musical accompaniment. Apart from showcasing this Indian Classical dance form in its traditional glamour, Amika has choreographed Kathak to many different musical genres and can intuitively collaborate with dancers of any dance style.

Amika is the recipient of the 2016 Shakti Award for Artistic Excellence and has taken part in notable festivals such as Namaste Geneva, Next Step Dance Festival, the Indian Electronica Festival, and the Vancouver Island, Mission, Harrison and Vancouver Folk Music Festivals.

Amika’s dance training began with her mother and continued under Kathak maestro Pt. Ram Mohan Mishra (Maharaj) at the Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra in New Delhi, India. Over the years, she has refined her technique through intense workshops with leading masters of the present global Kathak dance community, namely the legendary Pandit Birju Maharaj, Pandita Saswati Sen, Maulik Shah, Pandita Uma Dogra, and most recently with Raghav Raj Bhatt.

Amika is also a well-synchronized Harmonium player, and has accompanied a number of great musicians including the Khalifa of the Delhi Gharana of vocal, Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan.

In addition to dancing and performing music, Kushwaha works as a professional engineer in Vancouver. Amika and her husband, Ghazal and Tabla artist, Cassius Khan, are proud founders and directors of the Mushtari Begum Festival of Indian Classical Music and Dance, held annually since 2012.

Dr. Kamaljeet Gill Banwait

Vocalist – Khayaal

Dr. Kamaljeet Gill Banwait is one of Canada’s leading Indian classical vocalists in the styles of Khayaal, Thumri, Ghazal, and Punjabi folk singing. Dr. Kamaljeet was born into a family of musicians and was initiated into the art of Classical vocal from her father, the late Sardar Narinder Singh Banwait, who was a disciple of the Punjab Gharana. She pursued further training under the Late Pandit Madan Lal Bali, Pandit Yashpaul, Mrs Ratnika Tiwari, and Late Pandit Baldev Narang.

Dr. Kamaljeet holds a Bachelor’s degree n Classical Instrumental Music and has also completed a Masters and PhD in Classical Vocal Music from the Punjab University in Chandigarh. She has also received the Sangeet Prabhakar and Sangeet Praveen accreditation from the “Prayag Sangeet Samti” from the Allahabad University n UP.

Dr. Kamaljeet began performing from a very young age, and was also an All India Radio Jalandhar artist. Since moving to Edmonton in 2006, she has been a featured artist in Western Canadian musical circuits which include the Mushtari Begum Festival, Raga Mala, Agha Khan Foundation, Sarb Akal Music Society, and the World Music Festival. In 2011, Dr. Kamaljeet was awarded the title ReFM Idol of the Year.

Professionally Dr. Kamaljeet has served as a lecturer at the D.A.V. College in Hoshiarpur, and as a professor of music at the University of Alberta. Currently, she teaches music at two Khalsa Schools in Edmonton and runs her own academy of music with students spanning from age 5 to 70. In recent years, Dr. Kamaljeet has initiated the Samarpan Music Festival in Edmonton to honour the memory of her late father and gurus all while engaging budding and professional artists of the field.

Baljit Singh

Dilruba Artist

Baljit Singh is an instrumentalist that plays an array of bowed instruments, namely Sarangi, Dilruba, Esraj, Tar Shehnai and Taous. He is also well versed in Indian classical vocal, Harmonium, and Tabla. He started learning Dilruba from Professor Avtar Singh and later from Ustad Piara Singh Padam.

Baljit is a sought-after soloist and accompanist in and around Vancouver. He has performed alongside many renowned artists and has received much appreciation from a variety of audiences. Baljit is currently working as a music teacher, professional musician, and is part of Naad Arts Center in Surrey BC.

Disha Mehta

Vocalist – Ghazal

Disha Mehta has shown prowess as one of Cassius Khan’s most dedicated students since she started learning in 2008. Her musical journey started as a fuson singer/songwriter performing at open mic jam sessions around Vancouver. To refner her unique vocal style, Disha sought out Indian classical vocal classes and found a connection with Cassius Khan’s teaching and vocal style.

Disha gains inspiration from listening to recordings from some of ghazal’s most celebrated female vocalists, notably Farida Khanum, Iqbal Bano, and Begum Akhtar.

Aside from her musical journey, and delving into creating poetry, Dr. Disha Mehta (MD) is an anesthesiologist at Surrey Memorial Hospital.

Kathak dance – Amika Kushwaha

— INTERMISSION —

Khayal vocal recital – Dr. Kamaljeet Singh Banwait
Ghazal – Disha Mehta
Ghazal & Tabla – Cassius Khan

Accompanying Artists:

Amika Kushwaha – Harmonium
Baljit Singh – Dilruba
Dr. Kamljeet Singh Banwait – Harmonium
Ram Nayyar – Poetry translation
Ashifa Tharani – Poetry translation
Disha Mehta – Taanmandal

Backstage Crew:

Stage Manager – Ashifa Tharan
Tech Manager – Inder Kanwal
Health and Wellness ‘Dog’tor – ILU ILU

Malika-e-Ghazal (Queen of Ghazal)

25 Dec.1934 – 14 Mar.2004

Mushtari Begum was the first Indian Ghazal exponent whose father hailed from Lucknow, India and was born in the Islands of Fiji.

Cassius Khan

Vocalist & Tablaist

The globally renowned Cassius Khan stuns his audiences by performing his trademark style, which is to sing the classical styles of Ghazal and Thumri and play Tabla at the same time. Traditionally, Ghazal singers are known to play the Harmonium and be accompanied by another individual on Tabla. But Cassius has flipped the equation and popularized it, which is a first for Indian classical music. Khan has toured extensively and has performed with and worked on numerous albums with some of the world’s most finest musicians. Besides his performances in the Indian classical genre, Khan has paired his musical talents with a variety of styles such as Heavy Metal, Jazz, Electronica, and Blues. He has been featured on a TV ad, and recently, performed for the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations twice in 2017 and 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. The list of Khan’s accolades includes a 2011 Western Canadian Music Award nomination, the 2005 Salute to Excellence Award from the Alberta Government, and a nomination for the City of New Westminster’s Chamber of Commerce awards as Artist of the Year in 2016 and 2017.

Amika Kushwaha

Kathak Dancer & Harmonium Artist

Amika Kushwaha is one of the few Kathak artists in Canada who pairs her performances with live musical accompaniment. Apart from showcasing this Indian Classical dance form in its traditional glamour, Amika has choreographed Kathak to many different musical genres and can intuitively collaborate with dancers of any dance style.

Amika is the recipient of the 2016 Shakti Award for Artistic Excellence and has taken part in notable festivals such as Namaste Geneva, Next Step Dance Festival, the Indian Electronica Festival, and the Vancouver Island, Mission, Harrison and Vancouver Folk Music Festivals.

Amika’s dance training began with her mother and continued under Kathak maestro Pt. Ram Mohan Mishra (Maharaj) at the Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra in New Delhi, India. Over the years, she has refined her technique through intense workshops with leading masters of the present global Kathak dance community, namely the legendary Pandit Birju Maharaj, Pandita Saswati Sen, Maulik Shah, Pandita Uma Dogra, and most recently with Raghav Raj Bhatt.

Amika is also a well-synchronized Harmonium player, and has accompanied a number of great musicians including the Khalifa of the Delhi Gharana of vocal, Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan. In addition to dancing and performing music, Kushwaha works as a professional engineer in Vancouver. Amika and her husband, Ghazal and Tabla artist, Cassius Khan, are proud founders and directors of the Mushtari Begum Festival of Indian Classical Music and Dance, held annually since 2012.

Dr. Kamaljeet Gill Banwait

Vocalist – Khayaal

Dr. Kamaljeet Gill Banwait is one of Canada’s leading Indian classical vocalists in the styles of Khayaal, Thumri, Ghazal, and Punjabi folk singing. Dr. Kamaljeet was born into a family of musicians and was initiated into the art of Classical vocal from her father, the late Sardar Narinder Singh Banwait, who was a disciple of the Punjab Gharana. She pursued further training under the Late Pandit Madan Lal Bali, Pandit Yashpaul, Mrs Ratnika Tiwari, and Late Pandit Baldev Narang.

Dr. Kamaljeet holds a Bachelor’s degree n Classical Instrumental Music and has also completed a Masters and PhD in Classical Vocal Music from the Punjab University in Chandigarh. She has also received the Sangeet Prabhakar and Sangeet Praveen accreditation from the “Prayag Sangeet Samti” from the Allahabad University n UP.

Dr. Kamaljeet began performing from a very young age, and was also an All India Radio Jalandhar artist. Since moving to Edmonton in 2006, she has been a featured artist in Western Canadian musical circuits which include the Mushtari Begum Festival, Raga Mala, Agha Khan Foundation, Sarb Akal Music Society, and the World Music Festival. In 2011, Dr. Kamaljeet was awarded the title ReFM Idol of the Year.

Professionally Dr. Kamaljeet has served as a lecturer at the D.A.V. College in Hoshiarpur, and as a professor of music at the University of Alberta. Currently, she teaches music at two Khalsa Schools in Edmonton and runs her own academy of music with students spanning from age 5 to 70. In recent years, Dr. Kamaljeet has initiated the Samarpan Music Festival in Edmonton to honour the memory of her late father and gurus all while engaging budding and professional artists of the field.

Baljit Singh

Dilruba Artist

Baljit Singh is an instrumentalist that plays an array of bowed instruments, namely Sarangi, Dilruba, Esraj, Tar Shehnai and Taous. He is also well versed in Indian classical vocal, Harmonium, and Tabla. He started learning Dilruba from Professor Avtar Singh and later from Ustad Piara Singh Padam.

Baljit is a sought-after soloist and accompanist in and around Vancouver. He has performed alongside many renowned artists and has received much appreciation from a variety of audiences. Baljit is currently working as a music teacher, professional musician, and is part of Naad Arts Center in Surrey BC.

Disha Mehta

Vocalist – Ghazal

Disha Mehta has shown prowess as one of Cassius Khan’s most dedicated students since she started learning in 2008. Her musical journey started as a fuson singer/songwriter performing at open mic jam sessions around Vancouver. To refner her unique vocal style, Disha sought out Indian classical vocal classes and found a connection with Cassius Khan’s teaching and vocal style.

Disha gains inspiration from listening to recordings from some of ghazal’s most celebrated female vocalists, notably Farida Khanum, Iqbal Bano, and Begum Akhtar.

Aside from her musical journey, and delving into creating poetry, Dr. Disha Mehta (MD) is an anesthesiologist at Surrey Memorial Hospital.