Sikh Musicology

Concerts, Performances & Workshops

Dancing with the Indian Art: Expressions of Devotion through Visual Arts, Music and Dance

Dancing with Indian Arts

Visual and performance artist Kuldeep Singh brings an immersive interdisciplinary experience weaving Odissi dance with 18th century Indian miniatures, and early medieval texts on music and dramaturgy, which collectively celebrate and embody expressions of devotion. Mr. Singh will be accompanied on the Indian drum pakhawaj by Michael Shoureas.

Funding for this program has been provided by the Joseph G. Astman Family Fund for the Hofstra Cultural Center, and the Alice Sawyer Award and the Rabinowitz Honors College.

Date: Thursday, April 28, 2022
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Fortunoff Theater, Monroe Lecture Center, California Avenue, South Campus

Free and open to the public. More Information

“Research as Composition”
Lecture on anthropology, sonic ecology, and compositional practice as a technique of research

By Hofstra Alumnus Steven Feld '71
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico
Event Poster

A special event of the Music, Memory and Identity Lecture Series, Directed by Dr. Francesca Cassio

Thursday, February 27, 2020, 6:30-8 p.m., The Helene Fortunoff Theater, Monroe Lecture Center

Professor Steven Feld is one of the most influential scholars in the field of Anthropology of Music. In this lecture, Professor Feld not only will discuss his ethnographic research among musicians in various regions of the world (from West Africa to Papua New Guinea), but for the first time, he will share his reminiscences about his days at Hofstra studying with great musicians and anthropologists who deeply inspired his long career. Among the teachers who have most influenced him is Professor Emeritus Herb Deutsch, to whom this lecture is dedicated.

International Conference Celebrating Guru Nanak’s 550th Birth Anniversary

Conference is presented in collaboration with Hofstra University’s Sardarni Kuljit Kaur Bindra Chair in Sikh Studies. Additional conference information is available on that website.

Conference schedule:

Friday, October 11- Saturday, October 12
9 a.m.-5 p.m., Leo A. Guthart Cultural Center Theater
Joan and Donald E. Axinn Library, First Floor

Evening concerts:

Thursday, October 10, 7:30-9 p.m.
Guru Nanak’s Musical Word sung from Sikh Sacred Scripture
The lyrical hymns of Guru Nanak (1469-1539), the founder of the Sikh tradition, are presented in this concert in their traditional form – as transmitted in the Gur-Sikh parampara – by renowned scholar and 13th generation kirtania Bhai Baldeep Singh accompanied on the dhrupadi rabab by Daud Khan Sadozai(India).

Introductions by Professor Balbinder Singh Bhogal, Department of Religion, and Professor Francesca Cassio, Department of Music.

Friday, October 11, 7:30-9 p.m.

Saint Kabir’s Musical Word sung from Sikh Sacred Scripture
The lyrical hymns of the bhakti saint Kabir (1440-1518) preserved in the Guru Granth Sahib, are presented in this concert according to the traditional style by the renowned head of the Kabir Panth Sri Prahlad Tipaniya (India).

Saturday, October 12, 7-8:30 p.m.

Saint Farid’s Musical Word sung from Sikh Sacred Scripture
This concert showcases the poetry of the Sufi saint Sheikh Farid (1179-1266) preserved in the Guru Granth Sahib, performed according to the qawwali genre by Dhruv Sangari, (India), the last disciple of the legendary singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Location for all three concerts: The Helene Fortunoff Theater, Monroe Lecture Center
California Avenue, South Campus

All concerts are free and open to the public
For more information and registration visit
or email

Wednesday, November 14
Memory and Pedagogy of Sikh Music: Identity and Clash of Histories

event Poster

For the Hofstra lecture series on Music, Memory and Identity, the renowned musician and scholar Bhai Baldeep Singh will discuss the transformation in Sikh (musical) praxis and self-understanding by influential reform movements under the pressure of colonial and then nationalist forces. The talk touches upon the clash of oral and written accounts on the Sikh tradition, and the strategies to preserve its musical heritage in danger of disappearing. The event is organized by the Sardarni Kuljit Kaur Chair in Sikh Studies and the Department of Religion, in collaboration with the Sardarni Harbans Kaur Chair in Sikh Musicology.

The talk will be held at Breslin 103, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Reception at 6 p.m.
Open and free to the public.

Fall 2016

Thursday, November 3
Traditions in Transition: Intangible Cultural Heritage in South and Southeast Asia Symposium

This symposium unites scholars from the disciplines of anthropology, ethnomusicology, folklore, theater and Asian studies to sacred traditions of South and Southeast Asia. Through the participation in workshops given by scholar-practitioners, performances of a central Javanese Gamelan orchestra, Sundanese rod puppetry theater, Sikh religious hymns, academic lectures, and a one-day installation of an exhibit of puppets, costumes, instruments, and ethnographic photos of healing performances, participants in this symposium gain insight into complex performance forms and explore the paradoxical issues currently facing the traditional arts and their definition as intangible cultural heritage in South and Southeast Asia. UNESCO defines intangible cultural heritage as "the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills — as well as the instruments, objects, artifacts and cultural spaces associated therewith — that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage." More Information

Spring 2016

Francesca Cassio, the Sardani Harbans Kaur Chair in Sikh Musicology at Hofstra University will be participating in the following events around the country:

Musicology Event

Thursday and Friday, February 26-27
Dr. Cassio will perform with Parminder Singh Bhamra and Nirvair Kaur Khalsa and present a paper, "The Sonic Pilgrimage: Gurbani Kirtan as Vehicle of the Spiritual Journey” at the Music and Poetics of Devotion in the Jain and Sikh Traditions conference at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, February 26-27. More information

Friday-Sunday, March 4-6
She will participate in a conference on the Music of South, Central, and West Asia at Harvard University. Dr. Cassio will perform on March 4 with Parminder Singh Bhamra and Nirvair Kaur Khalsa and deliver the pre-concert lecture, “Singing at the Guru’s court. The dhrupad of the Gurbani kirtan tradition.” More information

Thursday, April 7
Dr. Cassio will serve on a panel, “Women and Music in Religious Traditions from Around the World,” with a focus on the case study of Female Singers of Sikh Kirtan for the music conference Spirit and Sound, organized by the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life at Columbia University. She and Parminder Singh Bhamra and Nirvair Kaur Khalsa will also perform at the S. James Chapel (Union Theological Seminary) at 121 St. and Broadway, New York. More information

Fall 2014

Monday, November 17, 7 p.m.
Sacred and Secular in the Sikh Musical Tradition by Dr. Virinder Kalra, University of Manchester (UK)
This event is sponsored by the Hofstra Cultural Center in collaboration with the Sardarni Harbans Kaur Chair in Sikh Musicology.
Since the traumatic events of 1984 many aspects of Sikh cultural life have come under scrutiny and to some extent revival and reform, parallel with the Singh Sabha movements of the early 20th century. Sikh kirtan has also been subject to these revivalist forms resulting in a number of attempts at bringing tunes, instruments and practices back into use that had fallen into abeyance. This renaissance has been well documented and also received some academic attention. However, the vast majority of Sikh kirtan that continues to be produced and performed is of a popular variety. By focusing on the experiences of kirtan performers and the institutional structures in which music is managed in Gurdwaras, this talk will offer some reasons for the continuing salience of popular kirtan.

Spring 2014

The Hofstra Cultural Center presents the Joseph G. Astman Concert Series Sacred Music from Around the World

Thursday, March 13, 7:30 p.m.
Persian Mystic Songs for Nowruz
Sepideh Raissadat, vocal and sehtar; Naghmeh Farahmand, zarb, daff
The event celebrates the Nowruz, the festivity marking the Iranian New Year on March 21.
In collaboration with D'Addario Music Appreciation Initiative.
Admission: Fee
Wednesday, April 9, 7:30 p.m.
The Words of My Beloved. Holy Hymns from the Sikh Gurus'tradition
Dr. Francesca Cassio, vocal and tanpura Parminder Singh Bhamra, pakhawaj; Nirvair Kaur Khalsa, taus
Dr. Francesca Cassio (Sardarni Harbans Kaur Chair in Sikh Musicology at Hofstra University) will perform traditional hymns from the Sikh Gurus' repertoire (late 15th-early 18th century) in the medieval dhrupad style.
Admission: Free
Wednesday, April 16, 7:30 p.m.
The Alash Ensemble Performing Overtone Singing from Tuva
Ayan-ool Sam, Bady-Dorzhu Ondar and Ayan Shirizhik
The Alash Ensemble is a trio of master overtone singers (xöömei) from Tuva, a tiny republic in the heart of Central Asia.
Admission: Fee
Location for all 2014 events:
The Helene Fortunoff Theater, Monroe Lecture Center, California Avenue, South Campus

Spring 2013

Friday, April 12, 2013, 5 p.m.
Hymns from the Sikh Music Tradition
North India, 15th-18th Century
The First Sardarni Harbans Kaur Chair Student Recital

Jessie Ann Bolash, Vocal and Tānpūrā
Rikhav Kothari, Pakhāwaj

Special Guest
Michael Braudy, violin

The Helene Fortunoff Theater
Monroe Lecture Center, South Campus

Vaisakhi Festival  - April 14, 2012

A performance of shabad kīrtan by Dr. Francesca Cassio.

In the spring 2012 Dr. Cassio was invited to perform a kīrtan at the Gurudwara Mata Sahib Kaur in Glen Cove, Long Island,  to celebrate the Sikh Vaisakhi Festival. The event was attended by a large audience from the Sikh Community of New York and Long Island.

On this special occasion Dr. Cassio performed Sikh traditional repertoire, in the authentic medieval dhrupad style, playing tānpurā, and accompanied on pakhāwaj by the renowned percussionist Parminder Singh Bhamra from New Delhi. The duo performed Rāg Bihagra in Pancham Sawari, Rāg Jaijawanti in Chartāl, Sri Rāg in Sultāl

Dr Cassio and Parminder Singh Bhamra performing a kīrtan at Mata Sahib Kaur Gurdwara in Glen Cove, NY.



“Guru Nanak Prize”  -   April 18, 2012

The class of Sikh Musicology led by Dr Cassio performed a short kīrtan recital at the Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize, an event organized by Hofstra University in collaboration with the Sardarni Kuljit Kaur Bindra Charitable Foundation.

The function was held at Garden City Hotel in Garden City, NY, and was attended by hundreds of guests, among them the Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz, the Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Herman A. Berliner, Dean of Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Bernard Firestone, Mr. Teji Bindra, Mrs. Indie Singh, Dr IJ Singh, Dr  Eboo Patel, and Dr  Balbinder Singh Bhogal.

Seven students accompanied the performance of Dr. Francesca Cassio and Parminder Singh Bhamra. 

Dr Cassio interviewed by PTC Television Punjab, after the performance at the Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize, Long Island April 2012

Hofstra Students’ Recital  -  April 29, 2012

The class of Sikh Musicology led by Dr Francesca Cassio performed a recital of traditional Sikh Gurus’ repertoire in the medieval dhrupad style, with the accompaniment of Parminder Singh Bhamra on pakhāwaj. The class performed Rāg āsā,  ālāp and a shabad in partāl (12 and 14 beats). The event was attended and highly appreciated by Hofstra students and faculty.

“Songs for the Beloved”   - November 13, 2011

The Sardarni Harbans Kaur Chair in Sikh Musicology invited Dr. Gurnam Singh Rathour from the Punjabi University of Patiala (India) for a one-month visiting scholarship. During his visit, Dr. Gurnam Singh Rathour gave a recital of Gurbānī Sangīt, accompanied by Manpreet Singh (harmonium), Amandeep Singh (dilruba) and Bhai Raghbir Singh (tablā).

The event was held at the Helene Fortunoff Theater, in collaboration with the Hofstra Cultural Center and the Joseph G. Hastman International Concert Series.  

Members of the Sikh Community as well as Hofstra students and teachers attended the event. Among the honorable guests: Dr. Hakam Singh with his daughter Mrs. Indie Singh, Dr. IJ Singh, Mr. Teji Bindra, Dr. Balbinder Singh Bhogal (Chair in Sikh Studies), Dr. Firestone (HCLAS Dean), Dr. Robinson (Chair of the Music Department)

Event Poster
Dr. Gurnam Singh and his group performing at the Helene Fortunoff Theater, November 2011.

 Dr. Gurnam Singh and his group performing at the Helene Fortunoff Theater, November 2011.

Dr Hakam Singh and Dr. Francesca Cassio felicitating Dr. Gurnam Singh Rathour after his performance at Hofstra University

Dr Hakam Singh and Dr. Francesca Cassio felicitating Dr. Gurnam Singh Rathour after his performance at Hofstra University