Vishwas R. Gaitonde spent his formative years in India, has lived in Britain, and now resides in the United States. His writings have been published in all those countries, and elsewhere. His literary distinctions include the Tennessee Williams Scholarship to the Sewanee Writers Conference and a writing residency at The Anderson Center (United States); a Summer Literary Seminars fellowship (Canada); and the Hawthornden Fellowship (Scotland). One of his published short stories was cited as a Distinguished Story in Best American Short Stories of 2016.
Alec Cooper was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he began learning guitar as a teenager. After finishing high school, he moved to the USA to pursue a degree in music composition at Berklee College of Music. During this time, he began to learn about North Indian classical music and travelled to India for the first time. After completing his composition degree, he continued his musical studies with a Masters degree in Musicology at the University of Surrey, UK. Meanwhile, his fascination with Indian music and culture continued to grow. Eventually, he decided to study sitar with guru Debashish Sanyal and classical singing with Dr Ashish Jaiswal, both from Varanasi, while pursuing a PhD on Indian classical music at the University of Edinburgh (completed in 2018). The topic of his doctoral research focused on the improvised musical interactions among sitar and tabla performers, and the concomitant personal and social experiences to emerge through these musical interactions. At the same time, Alec became co-director of theSitarProject, a community-based group promoting Indian classical music in Scotland, and continued to pursue a professional career as sitar player. In 2018 he was awarded the Kala Ratna award by Milapfest for his contribution to the Indian Arts scene in the UK. He has also received numerous grants supporting his work as performer, teacher and researcher, through which he has continued to develop as an artist and educator.
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