Kamil and Talat Hasan Chair in Indian Classical Music

Nawab Hamid Ali Khan, ruler of the state of Rampur, India, in the early 1900s, was well known for his love and patronage of the arts. in 2000, halfway around the world and three generations later, the great-granddaughter of this respected Nawab and her husband carried on that tradition, providing funding that substantially expanded the performance and instruction of Indian classical music at UCSC.

kamil and talat hasan
Kamil and Talat Hasan

The couple are Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Talat and Kamil Hasan of Saratoga, California. Their gift of $350,000 established the Kamil and Talat Hasan endowed chair in Indian Classical Music, which provides ongoing annual support for UCSC's flourishing programs in Indian arts.

"Indian classical music is a remarkable art form," said Kamil Hasan. "It stands out from popular music because it not only pleases the mind and senses, it goes much deeper. It's important to us to do our part to keep this tradition flourishing. We think UCSC is the right place to establish this endowment, both because of its proximity to Silicon Valley, which is the location of a large Indian American community, and because of the sincere commitment of the then Chancellor Greenwood and Dean Houghton to create a major program in classical Indian arts and South Asia studies."

"We hope this endowment will do two things," said Talat Hasan. "First, that it will plant seeds for a center for Indian cultural studies, supporting not just music, but dance, drama, and the visual arts. And, secondly, that it will make these arts more widely available to future generations of students, including Indian American students. This is a wonderful tradition that traces back hundreds and hundreds of years, and it really needs to be nurtured and preserved."

This 2000 endowment is the Hasans' second gift to UCSC. The couple were also donors to the $250,000 Ali Akbar Khan Endowment for Classical Indian Music, established in 1999 (other contributors were Sid and Anu Maitra, Arjun and Kiran Malhotra, and Shiv and Kiran Nadar). That endowment enriches courses in Indian classical music and has led to the presence on campus of Ali Akbar Khan, considered to be one of the world's greatest living musicians. 

The Kamil and Talat Hasan Chair is currently held by Dr. Dard Neuman.

Dard Newman

Dard Neuman is responsible for building interest in Hindustani music through a variety of programs -- functioning as a combination of academic instructor, concert promoter, event coordinator, sitar teacher, fundraiser, and program manager.

A 2004 Ph.D. from Columbia University specializing in North Indian Classical music, Neuman is also trained as a sitarist. As a dedicated musician, anthropologist, and ethnomusicologist, Neuman will work to broaden UCSC's offerings in world music as he provides critical direction for programs and courses funded by the campus's Indian music endowments.

Neuman noted that the UCSC endowed chair in Indian music may be the first of its kind for an American university."To have a chaired position that was created solely for Hindustani music is unique in the United States," said Neuman. "I believe that UC Santa Cruz had the very first one.

The 33-year-old Neuman comes from a long musical lineage. His father is also a musician and ethnomusicologist who has studied the anthropology of Indian music. His mother was born in India to a family of music lovers, and his aunt is a professional sitarist. Neuman was presented with a small sitar on his fifth birthday in India, and he soon began studying with his aunt."I come from a background where music saturated the air," Neuman observed. "I had constant exposure to visiting artists. My grandparents were close to musicians who often played at our house when they came through town. And when my father was at Dartmouth and at the University of Washington, he would invite visiting artists and they would often stay at our place. So I couldn't help becoming obsessed with the music--either you rebel and have nothing to do with it, or it becomes part of your blood, your passion."

Neuman has many ideas to help build the Indian music program at UCSC over the next decade. In an effort to expose students and the community to a wider range of traditional music styles, instruments, and vocal techniques, he plans to create a revolving visiting artist course to bring different musicians from India to teach at UCSC. To learn more about Dr Newman, click here.