Sharing the rich heritage of traditional Nepalese music
In the fall of 2019, MIT professor of history Jeffrey S. Ravel hosted ethnomusicologist and multi-instrumental singer-songwriter Lochan Rijal. Together, professors Rijal and Ravel are launching an MIT-Kathmandu University collaborative project to create an online ethnographic atlas of Nepali music offering users access to recordings and documentation of the Himalayan country’s rich musical heritage.
Rijal’s MIT artist residency included collaborations with the MIT Nepal Initiative and MITeri, MIT’s Nepali student association, as well as visits to Professor Patty Tang’s class, 21M.030 Introduction to World Music, and Professor Sana Aiyar’s history class, 21H.157 The Making of Modern South Asia. Rijal’s residency activities on campus culminated in काँचो आवाज (Raw Sounds), a public concert of Nepali music featuring original compositions played on traditional Nepali instruments.
काँचो आवाज (Raw Sounds) was part of the 2019–20 MIT Sounding series, an annual concert series curated by Evan Ziporyn, faculty director of CAST and professor of Music and Theater Arts, and presented by the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) and MIT Music and Theater Arts.
Dr. Lochan Rijal is an ethnomusicologist at Kathmandu University and a multi-instrumental singer-songwriter.
Originating from rural Eastern Nepal, Rijal is the first South Asian to earn a PhD in ethnomusicology, completing his doctorate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Kathmandu University in 2014. He is an associate professor and head of Kathmandu University’s Department of Music, working with students to preserve and foster ethnic musical traditions throughout Nepal. Rijal is currently working to restore a historic heritage site that was damaged in the April 2015 earthquake. When completed, this temple complex will feature performance spaces, studios, classrooms, libraries, and instrument collections.
As a musician, Rijal blends various musical genres to create songs that reflect poetically on everyday life. He has won several awards for his albums and performances, such as the Nepali Hits FM Music Awards (Nepali Times). Aside from his work as a musician and a musical educator, Rijal is also involved with the Nepali film industry as a music director.
More at the artist’s website: Lochan Rijal
Public Lecture Amalgamating Tangible Heritage with Intangible Musical Heritage in Nepal: Past, Present, and Future Perspectives
September 25, 2019 / 5:00pm
MIT Building 32, room 144
32 Vassar Street, Cambridge, MA
Free and open to the public
Public Concert काँचो आवाज (Raw Sounds)
October 5, 2019 / 6:30pm
Lobdell, MIT Building W20
84 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA
Free and open to the public
September 24 – October 5, 2019
“Lochan Rijal, with his unconventional approach to music, is an iconic figure in the Nepali music scene.”
— Kathmandu Post: Helping to heal with Music, June 2015
“Rijal’s innovative and inventive melding of words and song go straight through the heart like an arrow in Paurakhi, another jagged-edged composition about a migrant worker who abandons home for ‘Muglan.’ It is a timeless story, communicated through the poetry and music of a modern-day Nepali bard.”
— Nepali Times: Step by Step, April 2014
myRepublica: Lochan Rijal: Nepal’s Musical ‘Paurakhi,’ July 2013
Jeffrey S. Ravel, professor of history and head of the History faculty, studies the history of French and European political culture from the mid-17th through the mid-19th centuries.
MITeri, the MIT Nepali student group, was founded in 2014 to connect students at MIT interested in Nepal and Nepali culture.