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    Vira Sathidar, Cultural Figure Who Fought India’s Caste System, Dies at 62

    After a career of activism on behalf of the lower castes, Mr. Sathidar was cast in a movie that reflected his life. He died of complications of Covid-19.This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.NEW DELHI — Vira Sathidar played the role of a protest singer enmeshed in India’s frustrating legal system in “Court,” a 2014 movie that won accolades in India and around the world. Yet Mr. Sathidar, a lifelong activist against injustice with little screen experience, remained uncomfortable describing himself as an actor.Acting, he said, was just another tool in the toolbox of protest — along with organizing, pamphleteering, editing, writing poetry and singing.“Song and dance was a weapon of our fight,” he once said. “It still is.”Mr. Sathidar died of complications of Covid-19 on April 13 at a hospital in Nagpur, in the state of Maharashtra, his son, Ravan, said. He was 62.Mr. Sathidar agitated against the deeply rooted caste system in India, under which those at the bottom — his fellow Dalits, or untouchables — are systematically abused. A high school dropout, he wrote books and articles, edited magazines and organized street performances. For a brief time, he ran a bookstall. He was the head of the Maharashtra chapter of the Confederation of Human Rights Organizations.“He was a living library,” his friend Nihal Singh Rathod said, “on political science, on social science.”Vira Sathidar was born on June 7, 1958, in the village of Parsodi, near Nagpur, to Rauf and Gangubai Sathidar. His father, a farmer, was a staunch supporter of B.R. Ambedkar, one of India’s most influential thinkers and political figures. Mr. Ambedkar, himself a Dalit, was part of the Indian independence movement and played a central role in drafting the constitution for the future republic. He was also a tireless opponent of the caste system, and Mr. Sathidar often cited his influence in setting him on the road to activism.Mr. Sathidar said his father wanted him to be a scholar. But he was a distracted student, and he left school after 10th grade to work at a cotton thread mill.Mr. Sathidar’s activism began when he was a union organizer at the mill. He found himself working with the radical Maoist movement called the Naxalites in the 1990s.He went underground for a time but became disillusioned, his friend Pradeep Maitra, the Nagpur correspondent for The Hindustan Times, said in an interview: “He got disappointed with the Naxal movement because of their emphasis on classless society and ignoring the Ambedkar notion of casteless society.”Along with his son, Mr. Sathidar, who lived in Nagpur, is survived by his wife, Pushpa Viplav Sathidar, as well as three brothers and a sister.Mr. Sathidar came to broader attention after “Court,” an examination of the injustices India’s labyrinthine legal system perpetuates against the marginalized. The director, Chaitanya Tamhane, was looking for a cast of largely unprofessional actors.Mr. Sathidar in a scene from “Court,” which was directed by Chaitanya Tamhane.Zeitgeist FilmsFor months, his team held casting calls across several states, trying to recruit from theater groups and street performers. He was having trouble casting the lead role, Narayan Kamble, a Dalit protest singer and poet who is accused of performing songs that induce a Mumbai sewer worker to commit suicide..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-16ed7iq{width:100%;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;-webkit-box-pack:center;-webkit-justify-content:center;-ms-flex-pack:center;justify-content:center;padding:10px 0;background-color:white;}.css-pmm6ed{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;}.css-pmm6ed > :not(:first-child){margin-left:5px;}.css-5gimkt{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:0.8125rem;font-weight:700;-webkit-letter-spacing:0.03em;-moz-letter-spacing:0.03em;-ms-letter-spacing:0.03em;letter-spacing:0.03em;text-transform:uppercase;color:#333;}.css-5gimkt:after{content:’Collapse’;}.css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;-webkit-transform:rotate(180deg);-ms-transform:rotate(180deg);transform:rotate(180deg);}.css-eb027h{max-height:5000px;-webkit-transition:max-height 0.5s ease;transition:max-height 0.5s ease;}.css-6mllg9{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;position:relative;opacity:0;}.css-6mllg9:before{content:”;background-image:linear-gradient(180deg,transparent,#ffffff);background-image:-webkit-linear-gradient(270deg,rgba(255,255,255,0),#ffffff);height:80px;width:100%;position:absolute;bottom:0px;pointer-events:none;}.css-1jiwgt1{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;margin-bottom:1.25rem;}.css-8o2i8v{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-8o2i8v p{margin-bottom:0;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-1rh1sk1{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-1rh1sk1 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-1rh1sk1 em{font-style:italic;}.css-1rh1sk1 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#ccd9e3;text-decoration-color:#ccd9e3;}.css-1rh1sk1 a:visited{color:#333;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#ccc;text-decoration-color:#ccc;}.css-1rh1sk1 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}Then Mr. Tamhane discovered Mr. Sathidar through an activist group. He cast him just before shooting started.“I thought they were taking me in the film because they couldn’t find a good actor, or they didn’t have enough budget,” Mr. Sathidar said in a video interview. He said he was struck by how much his character, Narayan, resembled him.“He has worked at a factory, I have worked at a factory,” Mr. Sathidar said. “He writes articles, I also write articles. He is an editor, I am also an editor. He works at a union, I also work at a union. He sings songs, I also sing songs. He goes to jail; I have also been to jail many times. His house is raided, my house is also raided.”“What he is showing is my life,” Mr. Sathidar said. “What surprised me was that he wrote all this without having met me.” More

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    Al Schmitt, Maestro of Recorded Sound, Is Dead at 91

    The winner of multiple Grammys, he engineered or produced records by Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Jefferson Airplane and many others.Al Schmitt, who as a boy watched Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters record music in his uncle’s studio, and who went on to become a Grammy Award-winning engineer for a long roster of artists including Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles and Diana Krall, died on Monday at his home in Bell Canyon, Calif. He was 91.His death was confirmed by his wife, Lisa Schmitt.For more than 60 years, Mr. Schmitt brought deft engineering skills and a sixth sense about what made a song great to his collaborations with dozens of musicians and singers. He was renowned for his ability to make subtle but critical changes during a recording session.His gentle, informed guidance from behind the recording console was an essential, if unseen, element in 15 of Ms. Krall’s studio albums.“It’s how he heard things,” she said by phone. “Sometimes he’d adjust the mic a bit or put his hand on my shoulder and say, ‘It’s OK.’ I don’t know if he was adjusting the mic or me.”While recording at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, she added, “Al would say, ‘Why don’t we bring out the Frank Sinatra stool?’ And you’d do the best take in your life.”Mr. Schmitt, whose engineering credits also included Sinatra’s popular “Duets” albums in the 1990s, won 20 Grammys, the most ever for an engineer, and two Latin Grammys. He also won a Trustees Award for lifetime achievement from the Recording Academy in 2006.In 2005, Mr. Schmitt’s contributions to Ray Charles’s own duets album, “Genius Loves Company,” brought him five Grammys. (He shared four with others, for album of the year, record of the year, best pop vocal album and best engineered album. One of the five, for best surround-sound album, he won on his own.)As an occasional producer, his credits include albums by Sam Cooke, Eddie Fisher, Al Jarreau, Jackson Browne and, most notably, Jefferson Airplane. In his autobiography, “Al Schmitt on the Record: The Magic Behind the Music” (2018), he described the zoolike atmosphere during the recording of the Airplane’s album “After Bathing at Baxter’s” in 1967.“They would come riding into the studio on motorcycles,” he wrote, “and they were getting high all the time. They had a nitrous oxide tank set up in the studio, they’d be rolling joints all night, and there was a lot of cocaine.” In spite of those obstacles, “After Bathing at Baxter’s” was well received, and Mr. Schmitt went on to produce the group’s next three albums.A tamer atmosphere existed in 2015, when Mr. Schmitt engineered “Shadows in the Night,” Mr. Dylan’s album of songs associated with Frank Sinatra. (Mr. Dylan produced the album under the name Jack Frost.) Between sessions over three weeks, they listened on Mr. Dylan’s small player to Sinatra’s renditions of the songs that they were about to record.Mr. Schmitt recalled that they were trying not to approach each song “in the same way” that Sinatra had, “but to get an idea of the interpretation,” he told Sound on Sound magazine in 2015.“We then would talk for maybe a couple of hours about how we were going to do the song,” he said.He was initially uncertain about whether Mr. Dylan could sing the Sinatra standards, he said, but he was thrilled by what emerged from the speakers from the start.“If there was something slightly off-pitch, it didn’t matter because his soul was there, and he laid the songs open and bare the way they are,” he told Sound on Sound. “He also wanted people to experience exactly what was recorded, hence no studio magic or fixing or turning things or moving things around and so on.”Mr. Schmitt at the 2014 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles with the 20th and final Grammy of his career, which he won for the Paul McCartney DVD “Live Kisses.” He also won two Latin Grammys and a lifetime achievement award.Frazer Harrison/Getty ImagesAlbert Harry Schmitt was born in Brooklyn on April 17, 1930. His father, also named Albert, made PT boats at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and later worked for a printing company and for a record processing plant. His mother, Abigail (Clark) Schmitt, was a homemaker.In his Uncle Harry Smith’s recording studio in Manhattan, Al discovered his future.“I loved my mother and father, but life with Uncle Harry was glamorous,” Mr. Schmitt wrote in his autobiography. (His uncle had changed his surname from Schmitt.)At first his father escorted him to the studio on weekends. But by age 8 Al was taking the subway on his own. He reveled in listening to Crosby, being asked by Orson Welles if he believed in Martians (soon after Welles’s nation-rattling radio broadcast of a Martian invasion in “The War of the Worlds”) and being taken to bars by his uncle and his close friend Les Paul.His uncle put Al to work — setting up chairs for a big band, cleaning cables. And Al learned about the proper placement of musicians in a one-microphone studio.After Mr. Schmitt was discharged from the Navy in 1950, his uncle helped him get a job as an apprentice engineer at Apex Studios in Manhattan. He had been working there for three months, still not certain of his capabilities, when he was left alone in the studio on a Saturday. He was taken aback when the members of Mercer Ellington’s big band arrived, along with Mr. Ellington’s father, Duke.Fearful of fouling up the session, he fetched a notebook with diagrams about how to set up the seating and place the microphones. He apologized to Duke Ellington.“I’m sorry, this is a big mistake,” he recalled telling him. “I’m not qualified to do this.”“Well,” Ellington said, “don’t worry, son. The setup looks fine, and the musicians are out there.”Over three hours, Mr. Schmitt said, he successfully recorded four songs.He worked at other studios in Manhattan before moving west in 1958 to join Radio Recorders in Los Angeles, where Elvis Presley had recorded “Jailhouse Rock” and where Mr. Schmitt in 1961 was the engineer for both the celebrated album “Ray Charles and Betty Carter” and Henry Mancini’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” soundtrack, indelibly featuring the Mancini-Johnny Mercer song “Moon River.”Mr. Schmitt was nominated for a Grammy for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” but he did not win. His first Grammy came the next year, for his work on Mancini’s score for the film “Hatari.” (He was also nominated that year for “The Chipmunk Songbook,” by Alvin and the Chipmunks.)After five years at Radio Recorders, Mr. Schmitt was hired by RCA Studios, where he moved into production. He left RCA after three years to become an independent engineer and producer.Those years were among his busiest as an engineer. In 2018, during an interview on “Pensado’s Place,” an online series about audio engineering, he remembered one two-day period.“From 9 to 12 I did Ike and Tina and the Ikettes; we’d take a break, and from 2 to 5 I’d be doing Gogi Grant, a singer with a big band, and that night I’d be doing Henry Mancini with a big orchestra. The next day, Bobby Bare, a country record, and then a polka record.“I hated polka music,” he added, “but what I’d concentrate on was getting the best accordion sound anybody ever heard.”Mr. Schmitt began his career after leaving the Navy and continued working well into the digital age.Chris SchmittMr. Schmitt kept working until recently, helping to shape artists’ sound well into the digital era. His most recent Grammy, in 2014, was for Mr. McCartney’s DVD “Live Kisses.”In addition to his wife, Mr. Schmitt is survived by his daughter, Karen Schmitt; his sons, Al Jr., Christopher, Stephen and Nick; eight grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; his sister, Doris Metz; and his brothers, Russell and Richy. His previous three marriages ended in divorce.In 2015, Mr. Schmitt received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.Speaking at the unveiling of that star, the record producer Don Was said that Steve Miller had recently played him several new songs.“I listened for a minute and I said, ‘Did Al Schmitt record this?’” Mr. Was said. “He was taken aback and said, ‘Yes, how did you know?’ I said, ‘Because your vocals sound better than I ever heard them before.’” More

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    Jill Corey, 85, Coal Miner’s Daughter Turned Singing Sensation, Dies

    The subject of a Life magazine cover story, she found early fame as a star of ’50s era television and drew comparisons to Judy Garland.Jill Corey, a torch singer who soared to fame as a teenage television star in the early 1950s, at one point becoming one of Columbia Records’ top vocalists, died on April 3 at a hospital in Pittsburgh. She was 85.The cause was septic shock, her daughter, Clare Hoak, said.Ms. Corey was irresistible to the mythmakers of the time. A stirring contralto with a pixie haircut, wide expressive mouth and enormous eyes, she drew comparisons to Judy Garland and had quite an origin story.The youngest daughter of a widowed coal miner, she was born Norma Jean Speranza in Avonmore, Pa. When she was 17, a local DJ helped her record a tape singing unaccompanied, except for the sound of a train rattling as it passed by the studio. They then sent the tape to Mitch Miller, the bandleader turned hitmaker for Columbia Records in New York City. He invited her to audition in person and sent a plane ticket.By the end of the day, she had a record deal, auditions with television show hosts and the attention of Life magazine, which decided to make her a cover girl next to the headline “Small Town Girl Gets New Name and a New Career.” A seven page spread with photographs by Gordon Parks, the article recorded (or re-enacted in some cases) her auditions, her leave-taking from Avonmore and her first night on television. She had just turned 18.She earned a spot on “The Dave Garroway Show,” a Friday night variety series hosted by a low-key former radio host otherwise known as the Communicator. Mr. Garroway was a television omnipresence at the time, part of the team that hosted the “Today” show when it began in the early 1950s. He was the one who renamed her Jill Corey — a name plucked from the phone book. On that first Friday night, Life magazine reported, she sang the classic jazz standard “I’ve Got the World on a String.”“An upturned face that’s cuter than a French poodle,” wrote Jack O’Brian, a television columnist for The New York Journal-American. “She sings like a warmhearted little angel.”Silver Screen magazine said she had a “voice as lovely as a glass slipper, and a personality to match.”Ms. Corey in 1957. A stirring contralto with a pixie haircut, wide, expressive mouth and enormous eyes, she drew comparisons to Judy Garland.Denver Post/Denver Post, via Getty ImagesBefore the end of the decade, Ms. Corey had a spot on the “Johnny Carson Show” (a variety show precursor to his late-night talk show) and the NBC series “Your Hit Parade,” in which a regular cast of vocalists sang the top-rated songs of the week.For a time Ms. Corey even had her own show, 15 minutes of song that followed the news once a week, a programming format that placed many popular singers in similar slots across the networks.She recorded many records and performed at Manhattan nightclubs like the Copacabana and the Blue Angel. (Mr. Miller, in tight control of her career, turned down Broadway roles for her because her nightclub work was more lucrative.) And she was courted by heartthrobs like Eddie Fisher and Frank Sinatra (as he and Ava Gardner were divorcing).She also made a “terrible movie,” in her words, called “Senior Prom” (1958).Ms. Corey was engaged to a Brazilian diplomat when Don Hoak, the third baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates, began a campaign to woo her. She had sung the national anthem at one Pirates game, and he had become smitten. He haunted her live performances — once sitting in as a trumpet player, at the invitation of her band, who colluded with him, and once walking onstage with a magnum of Champagne and two glasses. Finally she relented.They married in 1961, and she gave up her career. Their daughter, Clare, was born in 1965. Mr. Hoak died of a heart attack at the wheel of his car in 1969 while chasing his brother-in-law’s stolen automobile.Ms. Corey returned to performing a few years later — “Jill Corey Returns With Voice Intact,” The New York Times declared in 1972 — and continued to work steadily at small nightclubs and in musicals around the country. But she never recaptured her early fame.“Her voice has darkened and ripened,” Stephen Holden wrote in The Times in 1988, reviewing a performance at Danny’s Skylight Lounge on West 46th Street, “acquiring a vulnerable maturity that evokes an interesting mixture of Judy Garland and Rosemary Clooney.”“I’d arrived a star and done it all,” Ms. Corey told a reviewer in 1972, “so I didn’t know how to knock on doors, but what else could I do? Since I was 4, all I’ve ever done is sing. When you have talent, and they won’t let you do your thing, it’s very crushing; especially when you’re used to the red carpet.”Ms. Corey in 2018. “Her voice has darkened and ripened,” one critic wrote in 1988 after she had mounted a comeback, “acquiring a vulnerable maturity.”Becky Thurner BraddockNorma Jean Speranza was born on Sept. 30, 1935, the youngest of five children. Her father, Bernard Speranza, worked in a coal mine in Kiski Township, Pa.; when Norma Jean became Jill, she bought it for him, renamed the Corey Mine. Her mother, Clara (Grant) Speranza, died when she was 4.Her first performances, at school amateur hours, were not memorable: typically, enthusiastic Carmen Miranda imitations for which she earned last place. At 13, however, she won a talent contest sponsored by the Lion’s Club, the prize for which was a spot singing on local radio. The next year, she was hired by a local orchestra to sing standards, $5 a night, 7 days a week. For the demo she sent Mr. Miller, she sang a Tony Bennett song, “Since My Love Has Gone.”She sang often at home, said Ms. Hoak, her only immediate survivor. Ms. Corey would sing her daughter to sleep — Judy Garland and Billie Holiday, mostly, and to such an extent that her daughter complained, “Don’t you know any happy songs?”Ms. Corey’s voice remained distinctive, and she kept her flair. A few years ago, she fell in her home and called 911. When the fire department emergency team arrived, she received them with typical aplomb, a Scotch in one hand and a cigarette in the other.The firefighters balked at the cigarette.As Ms. Hoak recalled: “Mom told them, ‘Oh come on! You boys know how to put out a fire, don’t you?’ ” More

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    Rajan Mishra, Classical Indian Vocalist, Dies at 69

    Part of a famous duet with his brother, he brought traditional ragas to generations of young musicians. He died of Covid 19-related complications.This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.NEW DELHI — On a floating stage draped with garlands of marigold and rose petals, the brothers Rajan and Sajan Mishra, both wearing white kurtas and pajamas, sang verses of a meditative, melodious ancient raga as the Ganges River lapped around them.Their performance, for a short documentary film about their musical family, was seamless after decades of singing together, each brother picking up where the other left off with perfect intuition.“In Benares, the tradition was not just to listen to music but to consume it,” Rajan Mishra said in the film, using an alternative name for their hometown, Varanasi.Despite settling in New Delhi in a joint household of 14 relatives, the Mishra brothers always longed to return to Varanasi, and, in a manner of speaking, they will when India’s catastrophic second wave of the coronavirus recedes: Sajan Mishra, 64, plans to take his brother’s ashes back to the Ganges there and, as is Hindu custom, let the river consume them.Rajan Mishra died on April 25 at St. Stephen’s Hospital in New Delhi. He was 69. The cause was complications of Covid-19, his daughter-in-law, Sonia Mishra, said. She said the hospital’s lack of ventilators had led to his death. No one immediately answered calls to the hospital on Wednesday seeking comment.In recent weeks, amid the surge in Covid-19 cases, health care in much of India has all but collapsed, with hospitals in New Delhi, the capital, out of beds, medical equipment and even oxygen. Officials blame an even more infectious variant of the virus.“He was a national treasure,” Sonia Mishra said. “If we cannot arrange the basic facilities for such people, a common man will never be able to get those facilities, and we will keep losing lives like this.”Rajan Mishra was born in Varanasi, considered by Hindus to be the spiritual center of the world, on Oct. 28, 1951, a member of his family’s fifth generation of Indian classical musicians. (His grandson is in the seventh.)His father, Hanuman Prasad Mishra, was considered one of India’s greatest players of the sarangi, a bowled, short-necked string instrument that is often featured in Indian classical music. His mother, Gagan Kishori, was a member of Nepal’s royal family and sometimes accompanied her husband and sons as a vocalist and tabla player.Rajan Mishra studied arts and sociology at Benares Hindu University. He and his wife, Bina, a homemaker, had a daughter, Rithu, and two sons, Ritesh and Rajnish. The sons also are musicians. In addition to them, Mr. Mishra is survived by his wife and daughter as well as a sister, Indumati, and three grandchildren.Trained to accompany their father’s sarangi, Rajan and Sajan agreed as children always to sing together.When, in 2007, India’s prestigious Padma Bhushan prize was awarded to Rajan Mishra, he refused to accept it, saying it would have to be given to both him and his younger brother or not at all.The brothers, who achieved global renown, established a school in Uttarakhand State, in the foothills of the Himalayas, where they welcomed students from around the world to immerse themselves in Indian classical music. The more extroverted of the two, Rajan was the school’s public face.The brothers also traveled across India to promote the art among young people.Rupinder Mahindroo, a friend who teaches Indian classical music outside New Delhi, recalled hearing the brothers sing for the first time in 1979 in Lucknow, India. She had traveled to the city as a member of the national women’s cricket team. No sooner had her match finished than, still in her cricket uniform, she took an auto rickshaw to attend their recital.“I was so transported by their divine music that life was never the same after that,” Ms. Mahindroo said.Rajan likened music to an ocean, she said: “The more deep you delve into it, the more beautiful it is, and the closer it brings you to your spiritual being.” More

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    Paul Kellogg, New York City Opera Impresario, Dies at 84

    He had no opera experience when he was chosen to run the Glimmerglass Opera in upstate New York; 17 years later, he took on City Opera during a difficult period.Paul Kellogg, an innovative impresario who led the Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, N.Y., and later, during a dynamic and financially precarious period, also led the New York City Opera, died on Wednesday at a hospital in Cooperstown. He was 84.His death was announced by the Glimmerglass Festival, as the company is now called. No cause was given.Mr. Kellogg was living on the outskirts of Cooperstown and trying to write a novel when in 1979 he was the unexpected choice to become the executive manager of the four-year-old Glimmerglass Opera, which presented productions in the cramped, acoustically dry auditorium of Cooperstown High School. Though an opera lover, he had no real training in music and scant managerial experience. Yet he immediately envisioned what this fledgling summer festival could become.“A summer festival is not only what it does artistically, it’s what it provides people in the way of a full experience,” he said in a 1993 interview with The Christian Science Monitor.He courted local patrons and found support to boost the programming from one or two productions every summer to, eventually, four. He took on increasing executive and artistic leadership as his title expanded over the years. From the start, along with staples, he presented unusual fare like Bernstein’s “Trouble in Tahiti” and Mozart’s “The Impresario.” Believing in opera as a form of engrossing contemporary theater, he engaged important directors, including Jonathan Miller, Mark Lamos, Leon Major, Martha Clarke and Simon Callow.Most important, he oversaw the construction of a near-ideal house: the acoustically vibrant 914-seat Alice Busch Opera Theater, which opened in 1987 and boasted a large stage, ample backstage area and a proper orchestra pit. The theater, designed by the architect Hugh Handy, was perched in the middle of 43 acres of former farmland near Otsego Lake, about eight miles north of Cooperstown. And the side walls had screens that let the breeze inside, though sliding wood panels were closed over them when the music started. The bucolic setting and the splendid house became a magnet for audiences.Mr. Kellogg oversaw the construction of an intimate, welcoming opera theater in Cooperstown, N.Y., for Glimmerglass’s summer seasons.via GlimmerglassIn a surprising move, the New York City Opera in 1996 announced that Mr. Kellogg would become its general and artistic director — succeeding Christopher Keene, a beloved conductor, who had died the previous year — while remaining with Glimmerglass.The companies were very different operations. At Glimmerglass, which was essentially a nonunion house that relied heavily on interns, the budget for four productions during the 1995 season was about $3.5 million. City Opera during the 1995-96 season was presenting 114 performances of 15 productions, on a budget of about $24 million.Mr. Kellogg made the companies creative partners. New productions were introduced at Glimmerglass, where rehearsals took place in festival conditions, and then later presented at City Opera with the same or similar casts. Both institutions had demonstrated commitment to innovative contemporary productions, offbeat repertory and overlooked 20th-century works, and both had cultivated emerging singers who, while they might not have been stars, had fresh voices and often looked like the youthful characters they portrayed.From left, Nancy Allen Lundy, Anthony Dean Griffey and Rod Nelman in a scene from Carlisle Floyd’s “Of Mice and Men” at City Opera in 2003.Sara Krulwich/The New York TimesFor a while City Opera prospered under this arrangement. Mr. Kellogg presented 62 new productions there, about half of which had originated in Cooperstown. Among them were Carlisle Floyd’s “Of Mice and Men,” with the tenor Anthony Dean Griffey in a career-making performance as the slow-witted Lennie, and the director Francesca Zambello’s compellingly updated, emotionally penetrating staging of Gluck’s “Iphigénie en Tauride,” starring Christine Goerke in the title role.Still, City Opera was encumbered by the spotty, dull acoustics of the 2,700-seat New York State Theater (now the David H. Koch Theater), which had been designed to meet the needs of the New York City Ballet. In 1999 Mr. Kellogg, in a controversial move, announced that a subtle sound enhancement system was being installed at the theater to enliven the acoustics.Opera was an art form that had gloried in natural voices for centuries, and many felt the company had started down a slippery slope. Even Beverly Sills, once City Opera’s greatest star and a former general director, went public with her dismay.Mr. Kellogg, like City Opera leaders before him, argued that the house was not a second-tier company in the shadow of the Metropolitan Opera but a vibrant institution with a distinctive mission and repertory. He came to view relocating to either a renovated or new house as the only way to fulfill that mission.Yet, in explaining the deficiencies of the company’s home to lure financial backing for his dream, he inevitably undermined outreach to audiences: Why should people attend performances in an inadequate opera house?Several plans were considered and abandoned as financially impossible. Mr. Kellogg pledged to keep searching. It was not to be, and in the end, partly because of Mr. Kellogg’s heavy spending, City Opera spiraled into deeper trouble after he stepped down.City Opera’s home, the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center, now the David H. Koch Theater. The hall, designed for ballet performances, was not ideally suited to opera.Sara Krulwich/The New York TimesPaul Edward Kellogg was born in Los Angeles on March 11, 1937. His father, Harold, who had studied singing with the great tenor Jean de Reszke, worked at 20th Century Fox teaching voice projection and diction. His mother, Maxine (Valentine) Kellogg, was an accomplished pianist.After his family moved to Texas in the late 1940s, Paul majored in comparative literature at the University of Texas in Austin, then continued his studies at the Sorbonne in Paris and at Columbia University in New York. In 1967 he was hired as a French teacher by the Allen-Stevenson School in Manhattan. He went on to become the school’s assistant headmaster.After Mr. Kellogg moved to Cooperstown in 1975, his partner (and later husband), Raymond Han, a noted sculptor and painter, was recruited to work on sets for a few Glimmerglass productions. Mr. Kellogg volunteered to handle props. Company officials came calling in 1979 with a bigger job.Mr. Han died in 2017. Mr. Kellogg leaves no immediate survivors.Under Mr. Kellogg’s leadership, Glimmerglass took its place among the leading summer opera festivals. He started a young-artists program so emerging singers could receive expert coaching and gain experience onstage. Between Glimmerglass and City Opera he had a solid record of fostering news works, among them operas by William Schuman, Stephen Hartke, Robert Beaser, Deborah Drattell and Charles Wuorinen.He made a crucial contribution to the development of new operas through Vox: Showcasing American Composers, an annual program begun in 1999 that presented free readings with top singers and the City Opera orchestra of excerpts from operas that were in progress or unperformed. These invaluable readings led to dozens of premieres elsewhere.But City Opera’s acclaimed work kept draining the budget and punishing the endowment. After widely reported problems with deficits and declining attendance at City Opera during Mr. Kellogg’s final years, he retired from both companies in 2006. City Opera collapsed in 2013. (A new team under the City Opera name has been presenting productions and attempting to resurrect it.) Glimmerglass continues to thrive under the leadership of Ms. Zambello.Mr. Kellogg addressed the audience, with almost every member of the company behind him, on Sept. 15, 2001, the opening of the City Opera season, which had been delayed after the attack on the World Trade Center.Sara Krulwich/The New York Times The defining moment of Mr. Kellogg’s career came just four days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. City Opera had been scheduled to open its fall season on the evening of Sept. 11 with a grim new production of Wagner’s “Flying Dutchman.” At the behest of city officials, the company opened with a matinee performance of the Wagner on the 15th instead.Nervous audience members wondered whether it was even appropriate to be at the opera. Then the curtain rose to reveal a large American flag hanging above the stage and, standing closely together, almost every member of the company: singers in costumes, administrators in business attire, stagehands in dusty jeans and T-shirts, and Mr. Kellogg, in the middle. The performing arts, he said in a quavering voice, have many functions: “catharsis, consolation, shared experience, reaffirmation of civilized values, distraction.” So, he added, “We’re back.” Everyone in the house joined in singing the national anthem. Then Mr. Kellogg, engulfed in hugs, led the City Opera family offstage and the performance began.Suddenly, thoughts of budget deficits, declining patronage and an inadequate house were pushed aside. That performance that day, under that leader, truly mattered. More

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    Wayne Peterson, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Composer, Dies at 93

    His Pulitzer, in 1992, came amid controversy not of his making: A three-member jury had recommended a different work.Wayne Peterson, a prolific composer whose fraught winning of the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 stirred debate about whether experts or average listeners were the best judges of music, died on April 7 in San Francisco. He was 93.His son Grant confirmed the death, in a hospital, which he said came just seven weeks after that of Mr. Peterson’s companion of decades, Ruth Knier.Mr. Peterson won the Pulitzer for his composition “The Face of the Night, the Heart of the Dark,” but only after the 19-member Pulitzer committee rejected the advice of the three-member music jury, which initially recommended that Ralph Shapey’s “Concerto Fantastique” receive the prize.The jury was made up of composers, who had the ability to study the scores of works under consideration, whereas the committee members, mostly journalists, had no particular expertise in music. The dust-up began when the jury submitted only one piece, Mr. Shapey’s, in its recommendation to the committee, rather than three candidates, as was traditional.The committee sent the recommendation back, demanding at least one more name. When the jury responded with Mr. Shapey’s work and Mr. Peterson’s, while indicating that Mr. Shapey’s work was its first choice, the committee awarded the prize to Mr. Peterson instead. The jurors responded with a sharply worded complaint that said, in part, “Such alterations by a committee without professional musical expertise guarantees, if continued, a lamentable devaluation of this uniquely important award.”The incident produced considerable hand-wringing over whether experts or a more general panel should determine the winner of the music prize, an issue the Pulitzers had faced before in other genres. The dispute was puzzling because, as music critics for The New York Times wrote in the aftermath, it was not necessarily a case of Mr. Peterson’s work being more listener-friendly than Mr. Shapey’s — both men wrote atonal works. Some writers suggested that the matter was simply the Pulitzer committee asserting its dominance over the jury.In any event, the controversy left Mr. Peterson in an awkward position, since he knew the jury members who had faulted the decision, and since he professed admiration for Mr. Shapey’s works.“He would have been thrilled to get second place,” Grant Peterson said.“There was no bad blood,” he added. “It was just kind of a bummer because it wasn’t of his making.”Mr. Peterson himself acknowledged that the dispute left him with mixed feelings.“I had sent the work in as a lark, and I didn’t think I had even a remote chance of winning,” he told The Times in 1992. “I have won other awards, but the prestige of the Pulitzer is greater than that of the others. The controversy has made it a little different. I just hope the pall that it has cast will not jeopardize what the Pulitzer could mean in helping circulate my music.”Grant Peterson said that, in that regard, the episode proved to be a plus — the prize, he said, did boost his father’s name recognition, and it brought him more lucrative commissions.Mr. Peterson became a professional jazz pianist at 15, and his love of jazz found its way into his compositions.via Grant PetersonWayne Turner Peterson was born on Sept. 3, 1927, in Albert Lea, Minn. His father, Leslie, was “a victim of the Depression,” he told The Associated Press in 1992, who “bounced around from one thing to another”; his mother, Irma (Turner) Peterson, died when he was young, and he lived with his grandmother after that, his son said.His musical ability, which he said came from his mother’s side of the family, manifested itself early.“I became very interested in jazz piano and was a professional jazz musician from the age of 15 on,” he said. “I put myself through college by playing jazz, through three degrees at the University of Minnesota” — a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate, all earned in the 1950s.He became a professor of music at San Francisco State University in 1960, and taught composition there for more than 30 years. He lived in San Francisco at his death.Mr. Peterson’s career as a composer began in 1958 with the performance of his “Free Variations” by the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (now the Minnesota Orchestra). He composed for orchestras, chamber ensembles and other groupings, sometimes unusual ones. “And the Winds Shall Blow,” which had its premiere in Germany in 1994, was described as a fantasy “for saxophone quartet, winds and percussion.” There was also his Duo for Viola and Violoncello.“A nervous, effectively written piece, filled with dark melodies well suited to these lower string instruments, the duo builds to a fast and exciting climax,” Michael Kimmelman wrote in The Times when the work was performed at the 92nd Street Y in 1988.Mr. Peterson thought it important for a composer to listen to others’ works, across a wide range.“I don’t limit myself to any one group of composers,” he told The San Francisco Chronicle in 1991. “I try to listen to everything, and if I hear anything I like, it gets distilled in my psyche and comes out somewhere in my music.”His love of jazz also found its way into his compositions, including “The Face of the Night, the Heart of the Dark.”“There’s a lot of syncopation you can associate with jazz,” he said of that work, “but this isn’t a jazz piece.”It was given its premiere in October 1991 by the San Francisco Symphony. George Perle, the chairman of the Pulitzer jury that recommended the Shapey piece, took pains to praise Mr. Peterson’s composition even amid the controversy.“It is absolutely worthy of a Pulitzer Prize,” he said in 1992. “But the Pulitzer Prize is supposed to be for the single best work of the year, and on this occasion we felt that there was a work that was more impressive.”The controversy over his Pulitzer — which the committee awarded him instead of the composer recommended by the music jury — left Mr. Peterson in an awkward position. He knew the members of the jury and respected the composer they had recommended.Grant PetersonEven Mr. Shapey, who died in 2002 and was known for being outspoken, came to view his missed prize with a touch of humor.“A critic in Chicago started calling me ‘Ralph Shapey, the non-Pulitzer Prize winner,’” he told The Times in 1996. “They’ll have to put that on my tombstone.”Mr. Peterson’s marriage to Harriet Christensen ended in divorce in the 1970s. In addition to his son Grant, he is survived by three other sons, Alan, Craig and Drew, and two grandchildren.Grant Peterson said that since his father’s death he had been going through his papers and had been astonished at his productivity — not just his roughly 80 finished compositions, but the countless fragments.“There’s the stuff that’s bound and finished and published,” he said, “but mixed in with that is the chicken-scratch on yellow tablets. The guy was a music machine.” More