During 1985-86 the University of Pittsburgh, through its Department of Music and the Asian Studies Program, served as the principal sponsor for the Indian Classical Music Program of the Festival of India in the United States. This was in response to the request of the Government of India, the Festival of India in U.S.A. Committee and the Minister for Culture and Education at the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC. The ITC Sangeet Research Academy of Calcutta and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) were the co-sponsors and were responsible for the artistic and the organizational matters within India.

Under this arrangement 27 musicians from India were invited by the University of Pittsburgh to present workshops, lecture-demonstrations and performances at more than 20 American Universities, Colleges and other similar organizations. These organizations collectively contributed some $80,000 to support this program. The University of Pittsburgh was primarily responsible for immigration matters, financial management, travel schedule and promotion, and these services were provided by the University free of charge to the Festival of India in U.S.A. The entire project was coordinated by Dr. Balwant N. Dixit, Professor of Pharmacology and Coordinator of the Indian Classical Music Program at the University of Pittsburgh.

Subsequently, at the request of the Director General of ICCR and the Minister for Culture and Education at the Embassy of India in U.S.A., the University of Pittsburgh negotiated a bilateral exchange program with ICCR establishing the University Circuit for Indian Classical Music in United States. This circuit organized annual visits of four Indian classical musicians, together with their accompanists, to U.S.A. to give performances as well as to present lectures and conduct workshops explaining the theory and practice of Indian classical music. The international travel expenses usually were bourne by ICCR and a consortium of American universities/colleges and other similar organizations interested in Indian classical music provided funds for health insurance, domestic travel, living expenses and honoraria payments of visiting musicians on a mutually agreed basis. The University also agreed to provide assistance in all matters related to the U.S. Immigration and the Federal income tax regulations.

In exchange, one or two American faculty were to visit India annually to give instruction in Western classical music or to conduct research in Indian classical music. The international travel costs of the American faculty visiting India were to be bourne by the institution with which the faculty member is affiliated and the living expenses within India were to be bourne by ICCR and/or through grants from foundations or similar agencies in U.S.A.

Since the inception of this program in 1985, many leading exponents of Indian Classical Music have presented over 1,700 performances and some 300 workshops at over 80 Universities, Colleges, Schools and other similar organizations. Over $1.80 million have been raised in U.S.A. and Canada to support these activities.

Because of this success, the director general of ICCR suggested that the scope of the University Circuit be expanded to include other performing arts of India. In 1992 the establishment of the Center for the Performing Arts of India, as a component of the University Center for International Studies (UCIS), was approved by Provost Henderson. This is the only, university based center in U.S.A. that serves as an exchange program between a consortium of American universities and the ICCR, and it has become a nationally recognized program for its quality and organization.

A plan is being developed to establish a "Visiting Artiste" program through which a well recognized teacher(s) of Indian Classical Music and of other performing arts will come to U.S.A. to offer course(s) to the students at the University of Pittsburgh or any other University or College.

National Public Radio (NPR) has invited the Center to collaborate with NPR in broadcasting six, 60 min live recordings of the concerts on more than 100 NPR stations each year.

Musicians whose concert and lecture-demonstration
tours have been sponsored by the
Center for the Performing Arts of India
of the University of Pittsburgh

For more information about the Center, contact Dr. Balwant N. Dixit, Director, Center for the Performing Arts of India, University of Pittsburgh, 559 Salk Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15261. Phone (412) 963-8023 (res) (412) 648-8582 (office) Fax (412) 648-8475. E-Mail bdixit@pitt.edu