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Uttarpara Sangeet Chakra: A Legacy of Classical Music Excellence

Uttarpara, known for its rich cultural heritage, has always been a beacon of social, educational, and cultural activities. The town’s zamindars played a pivotal role in fostering this cultural milieu, actively encouraging and supporting various initiatives. They invited numerous eminent personalities to visit or reside in Uttarpara, further enriching the town’s cultural landscape. Notable figures such as Madhusudan Dutta, who spent the last months of his life in Uttarpara, and Sri Aurobindo, who delivered his famous Uttarpara speech here, are prime examples of the town’s historical significance. After the abolition of the zamindari system, the people of Uttarpara continued this grand tradition, ensuring the town’s cultural vibrancy remained intact.

In the mid-20th century, Calcutta was bustling with various classical music conferences featuring renowned artistes from across India. Music lovers from Uttarpara, regardless of age, frequently attended these events. Inspired by the cultural fervor of Calcutta, a group of enthusiastic young men in Uttarpara felt the urge to organize a similar event in their own locality. They sought support from senior music aficionados in the town and received an overwhelmingly positive response. Thus, in 1956, Uttarpara Sangeet Chakra was born with the aim of promoting and propagating Indian classical music. Late Amarnath Mukherjee, an ardent music lover and descendant of Babu Jaikrishna Mukherjee, served as its first President, while Sri Sasthidas Banerjee was one of the joint secretaries.

The first conference of Uttarpara Sangeet Chakra was held in January 1957 at the Uttarpara Jaikrishna Public Library ground. It featured an impressive lineup of notable artistes, including Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Smt. Sandhya Mukherjee, Smt. Roshan Kumari, and Sri Nikhil Banerjee, among others. This inaugural event set the tone for what would become one of the most esteemed organizations in the state dedicated to promoting Indian classical music.

Since its modest beginnings, Uttarpara Sangeet Chakra has grown into a reputed institution. The annual conference, held every January without interruption since 1957, has become a significant cultural event. The 47th Annual Conference, held on January 24th and 25th, 2003, marked yet another milestone in the organization’s illustrious history. Special mention must be made of Sri Nemai Charan Chatterjee and his family, whose support and patronage were instrumental in the early years. Sri Chatterjee generously allowed his residence to serve as the organization’s office for a long time.

Encouraged by the enthusiastic response from the people of Uttarpara and neighboring localities, Sangeet Chakra embarked on a new project to further propagate classical Hindustani music. In 1962, they established a music school, Sangeet Bhawan. The school was inaugurated by the late Prof. Dr. Humayun Kabir, then Minister of Education, Government of India. Sri Chinmay Lahiri, a renowned exponent and teacher of classical music, was its first principal. Today, Sangeet Bhawan is recognized as one of the finest institutions in Bengal for learning classical Hindustani music. Affiliated with Bhatkhande Sangeet Vidyapeeth, Lucknow, and Rabindra Bharati University, Calcutta, the school currently enrolls 250 students in various streams, including vocal, instrumental, and dance.

In 1994, another longstanding dream of Sangeet Chakra was realized when it moved to its own building on the banks of the river Hooghly in the heart of Uttarpara. This building, still under construction, will cater to the growing needs of the training department. Financial aid from the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, has been instrumental in achieving this formidable task. Once completed, the building will not only accommodate more training classes but also host seminars and workshops in various streams of classical music.

Uttarpara Sangeet Chakra stands as a testament to the town’s rich cultural heritage and its people’s unwavering commitment to preserving and promoting Indian classical music. Through decades of dedicated effort, the organization has nurtured countless talents and enriched the cultural fabric of Uttarpara. As it continues to grow and evolve, Uttarpara Sangeet Chakra remains a beacon of musical excellence, inspiring future generations to carry forward the legacy of classical music.