The Kennedy Center

Alif Laila


Alif  Laila was trained in the Indian classical music, through sitar, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. By Mir Qasem Khan, nephew of legendary maestro, Allauddin Khan During her final years of training, she attended the College of Fine Arts in Dhaka, where she graduated in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree and received several awards for her watercolor painting.

In 1988, she moved to the United States. She was fortunate to continue her study of Indian classical in sitar with teachers, Partha Chatterjee and Krishna Bhatt and Kushal Das.

Laila has performed internationally at venues, such as UNICEF (Concert For Peace), Paris, France , Purcell Room, South Bank Center,  Kerala Arts Society, Kerala, India, the National Museum of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Sangeet Research Academy Music Festival, Kolkata, India, Bengal Foundation Festival, Dhaka, Bangladesh, India International Center, New Delhi, The Bharat Bhavan Bhopal, India. In the US she has performed at venues such as, The Kennedy Center in Wash. DC, The Smithsonian in Washington DC, The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, College Park, MD, The Shakespeare Theater, Wash DC, The Metropolitan Museum of Arts, New York. Her artistic and creative energy has resulted in directing and producing numerous audiovisual recordings with classical sitar.

Her DVD Hridayaragam was featured in the Women’s History  Month at the Smithsonian in 2008 and Strings of Resonance was nominated for the ‘Best Classical Music Awards’ in Dhaka Bangladesh in 2010. She has presented her raag-mala watercolor paintings in audio visual concerts at The Capstone Theater, Liverpool, South Bank Center, London,UK & Shilpakala Acdemy, Dhaka, Bangladesh. She has performed and recorded with eminent Indian classical tabla artists.

Laila’s creative work in Indian classical music with different genres of music are her album, ‘I Am a River’, combining sitar and jazz-saxophone,  her  composition with sitar and cello was performed at the Bangladesh Embassy, Washington DC in April’12 One of her ‘Sitar & World percussion’ series was presented at the Atlas Intersection Performing Arts Center, Wash DC. Her duet series “Resonant Moods” with South Indian classical violin, was hosted by the ‘World Artists Experiences’ in October ’14 and Atlas Performing Arts Theater , Wash DC in October ’15.

  She received the ‘Award of Excellence’ in 2012 from ASHA Wash DC, for her contribution to the arts in the DC area, is in the Maryland Performing Artist Touring Roster of Maryland State Arts Council. She  received the Individual Artist’s Award 2014 and has been featured at the Mid Atlantic Music Conference, in Nov ’14.  ‘Ekavali’  (the single thread)with Tanmoy Bose, with world melodies and percussion.
 Laila’s music school, ‘Sitar Niketan’  has presented  many programs in the Wash DC metro area. A student ensemble, of nine sitars, was presented at the Gandhi Memorial Center in 2015. Laila believes in the philosophy of passing on of the rich heritage of Indian classical music to all who yearns to embrace it. Her students are a wide range in age and ethnicity.

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Watch Past Performances

Video 8/20/2017: Alif Laila & Sitar Niketan

Alif Laila's sitar recital, accompanied on tabla by Nitin Mitta, will be a unique audio-visual concert with the Alif's watercolor painting images portraying the emotions of the ragas played, presented in partnership with APCA (Advancement & Promotion of Charitable Activities). A lecture demonstration on Indian classical music and sitar, through a master class of Sitar Niketan students, will precede the sitar recital.

Alif Laila