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September 23, 2023


7:00 pm


Mushtari Begum Festival


12th Annual Mushtari Begum Festival

Presented by Amika Kushwaha and Cassius Khan

The 12th Annual Mushtari Begum Festival of Indian Classical Music and Dance returns to Massey Theatre as one of the premiere festivals celebrating Indian Classical Music and Dance. The MBF features Kathak/Harmonium maestra Amika Kushwaha, dazzling the audience stupendous footwork patterns and blinding pirouettes, Ghazal/Tabla Wizard Cassius Khan who combines the Classical styles of Ghazal/Thumri singing and the Tabla. He is the sole disciple of the late Malika e Tarranum Mushtari Begum and Tabla maestro Ustad Rukhsar Ali of the Delhi Gharana of Tabla playing. This year’s Mushtari Begum Festival features Pt Salil Bhatt, the amazing Satvik Veena maestro from Jaipur, India, and Dr. Kamaljeet Gill, the classical Khayaal/Thumri/Ghazal artist from Edmonton.

Such will be the passion and enchantment they create, intoxicating the soul with ancient melodies and rhythms, that undoubtedly, your ears will begin to see and the eyes, listen…

Pre-order your refreshments for pre-show and intermission here!

About the artists:

Creator of the Satvik Veena and heir to a 500-year musical legacy, Salil Bhatt represents the dynamic face of the new age Indian musician. Being hailed as the “Global Indian Musician”, Salil has done it all. From solo concerts and international collaboration to exotic jugalbandis (duets) and global fusions, Salil has not only managed to marvel audiences in India, bit also in Canada, Germany, Australia, America, Taiwan, England, Switzerland, Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Singapore, Spain, Austria, and Italy. That too, in just a span of his trailblazing 35-year career!

Having received a Pre-Grammy Award nomination which speaks volumes of his highly successful international collaborations, Salil is the harbinger of rare honors for India as he is the first ever musician to perform inside the Parliament of Germany. He is also the first ever Indian musician to perform in Iceland and the first Indian musician to be invited by the Taiwanese Government for artist residency.

Salil represents the tenth generation of the Bhatt lineage, where music has been flowing for more than five hundred years. Salil is the son of the legendary slide player and India’s Grammy Award winner Padmashree Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. Pt. VM Bhatt is the creator of the Mohan Veena, a revolutionary instrument which has been hailed as a discovery in Indian classical music .

Salil reflects the dynamic style of rendering the classical nuances on the Satvik Veena in his concerts. His style incorporates the authentic and systematic exposition of Classical Indian Ragas and the embellishments of  World Music as well.

Salil’s baaz [style] assimilates the ‘gayaki’ [vocal] and ‘tantrakari’ [instrumental] representations which makes his playing complete with innumerable variations. Salil specializes in playing high-speed taans demonstrating his great skill on the Satvik Veena. Trained by his mentor Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Salil follows the Classical Indian Raga authenticity to its strictest norms and creates the purest picture of every Raga he plays.

Salil Bhatt is an Indian slide guitar player. He created the musical instrument Satvik Veena. He is the son of the fellow slide player and Grammy Award winner, Padmashree Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. His latest album, Slide to Freedom 2 – Make a Better World, was nominated for a Canadian Juno Award.

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

Dr. Gill holds a Bachelor’s degree in Classical instrumental music and has completed her Masters and PhD in Classical vocal music from the Punjab University in Chandigarh, India. She has also received her Sangeet Prabhaakar and Sangeet Praveen accreditations from the “Prayag Sangeet Samiti” from Allahabad University in UP

Dr. Gill 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 Canadian musical circuits which include the MBF, Raga Mala, Agha Khan Foundation, Sarb Akal Music Society and the World Music Festival. In 2011, Dr Gill was awarded the RED FM IDOL of the year.

Professionally, Dr. Gill has served as a lecturer at the D.A.V. College in Hoshiarpur, India and a Music Professor at University of Alberta, Edmonton. Currently, she teaches music in her own academy, and is the Producer of the Samarpan Music Festival of Indian Music and Dance which debuted in 2018.

The globally renowned Amika Kushwaha is a Canadian Kathak exponent who has learned the nuances of the Lucknow Gharana ( school) of Kathak. Her style is one of grace, beauty, fluidity of movement, as well as immense strength and stamina. In her performances Amika skillfully showcases her prowess on mathematically difficult compositions, her strong footwork patterns coupled with her graceful beauty in dance, thus creating her trademark “Poetry In Motion.” A 2005 Salute to Excellence award and 2019 Bernie Legge Artist of the Year Award recipient, 2017 Shakti Award, 2011 Western Canadian Music Award nominee and 2019 Drishti Award recipient, Amika is a delight to watch on stage, and seamlessly takes her audience on a wonderful journey of everyday and personal anecdotes all while performing fast footwork patterns, blinding pirouettes and elegant expressions, educating them on how life relates to Kathak. Asides from Kathak, Amika is a brilliant Harmonium player of par excellence, with the unique ability to follow vocalists with her nimble fingers note to note, or keeping the lehra, a time keeping melody for Tabla or Kathak soloists, has accompanied some of the very best musicians of Indian music including the Khalifa of the Delhi Gharana, the late Ustad Iqbal Ahmad Khan, and has performed for the Permanent India Mission to the UN and WIPO in Geneva, Switzerland in 2017/2018. She is also the Artistic Director of the Mushtari Begum Festival of Indian Classical Music and Dance, is a sought after dance teacher, adjudicator, composer, choreographer and holds and MsC in Chemical Engineering.

The globally renowned Juno and Western Canadian Music Award nominee Cassius Khan is a Canadian musician who plays the Tabla and simultaneously sings classical Ghazal and Thumri (poetry in Urdu and Hindi) and is the only professional musician in the world who presents his art in this way. A recipient of the 2005 Salute to Excellence Award, a 2008 Juno Award nomination, a 2011 Western Canadian Music Award nomination and the 2019 Bernie Legge Artist of the Year Award recipient, Khan’s performance will showcase the difficulty of dividing his brain into two facets of his mastery- singing Ghazal in classical form and playing complex rhythmical patterns on his tabla. His trademark “Tarannum Ang Gayaki” style coupled with his Tabla have stupefied many Indian maestros and was recognized for this unique ability. Hailed as “Canada’s Multifaceted Musician” thanks to his groundbreaking collaborations with musicians of all genres around the planet, Khan takes his audience on a wonderful journey of melody through his pitch perfect rich voice, stupendous technique of rhythm through his talented hands and with his mastery of performance onstage and comical and good natured personality he intricately weaves his performance with funny anecdotes. Khan is also a sought after teacher and mentor and is both a private teacher and a visiting professor for Indian music at the international school Mulgrave. The Producer of the Mushtari Begum Festival of Indian Classical Music and Dance held at the Massey Theatre in New Westminster since 2012, Khan has presented over 20 artists to the Canadian audience and has performed for the Permanent India Mission to the UN and WIPO in Geneva, Switzerland in 2017/2018. Khan is also endorsed by Ustad Qasim Khan Niyazi & Sons as well as Lehra Studio. Accompanying him on voice/tabla is his beautiful wife, the Kathak dancer Amika Kushwaha.

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