Our Team

Anna Stirr is the Project Director and lead translator. She is Associate Professor in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii Manoa, and the Director of the Center for South Asian Studies. She is the author of Singing Across Divides: Music and Intimate Politics in Nepal (Oxford University Press, 2017), which won the 2019 Bernard S. Cohn Prize for first books on South Asia from the Association for Asian Studies. She is also the co-director, with Bhakta Syangtan, of Singing A Great Dream-The Revolutionary Songs and Life of Khusiram Pakhrin (Sukumaya Productions, 2019). Her research focuses on music, dance, language, intimacy, and politics, particularly in Nepal and the Himalayan region. She performs Nepali folk music as a singer, flutist, and percussionist.

Lochan Rijal is in charge of audio and video recording production for the project, as head of the production company Lochan Rijal Productions. A multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter with a PhD in ethnomusicology, he is passionate about exploring Nepali music and experimenting with new sounds to bring about an innovative approach to sound production that fuses different musical styles. He spent years travelling across Nepal studying different local music traditions and instrument-making techniques. With three albums to his name, he is a recipient of several national and international awards. He is also Associate Professor and Head of Kathmandu University’s Department of Music.

Mason Brown is in charge of musical transcriptions. His research focuses primarily on Tibetan music and culture in Nepal, with an eye toward overlaps between liturgical music and contemporary popular forms, as well as rural folk traditions. His other research interests include Japanese Buddhist chant, American and Irish vernacular fiddle music, and violin manufacturing in the Industrial Revolution. Mason holds a double B.A. in Religious Studies and Music, with a minor in Tibetan language, from Naropa University, and a PhD in Ethnomusicology from the University of Colorado, Bolder. Before embarking on his graduate studies, Mason was a sign painter, carpenter, recording artist and touring musician, as well as a Zen priest. He continues to record and perform original and traditional folk music.

Hikmat Khadka is a translator for our project. He is a seasoned Nepali-English translator with extensive experience in both translation and interpretation in diplomatic, academic, and international development settings. He has won multiple awards and recognitions for his translation and interpretation abilities.

Rita Thapa Magar is a community liaison for our project. She is folk singer-songwriter from Dhading, Nepal. She is Senior Vice President of the Folk and Duet Song Academy Nepal, which sponsors competitions and other opportunities for folk performers throughout the country. She has released two solo albums and numerous singles, has sung on many others’ albums, and has performed around the world. Her music videos showcase traditional genres in rural settings, paying respects to the wide variety of music and dance traditions found in central Nepal’s hill regions.

Druva Shah is the son of Subi Shah and the rights holder of all his father’s materials. With his permission and assistance, we are undertaking these translations. As a community liaison, he also sets up meetings with artists in Dhading. Now retired, he was a professional football player in his youth, then switched to riflery after a knee injury ended his days on the field. Trained in Russia, Nepal, and India, he became Nepal’s Chief Coach for shooting. He attended multiple Olympic Games over the course of his decades-long career. He grew up in his family’s home village of Jyamrung, Dhading, until the age of eight, when he moved to Kathmandu. As their careers differed significantly, Dhruva is just coming to understand the extent of his father’s impact on the cultural field in Nepal.

Richard Widdess is senior advisor to our project. His formal engagement with the music and culture of South Asia began with an MA in Area Studies (South Asia) at SOAS, where he studied under Rajeshwari Datta for music, Wendy Doniger for history of religion, and John Gray for Sanskrit. He continued with a PhD in historical musicology of South Asia with Laurence Picken of Jesus College, Cambridge. Richard studied dhrupad singing with Nimai Chand Boral, and among Indian musicologists he has been particularly inspired by Premlata Sharma, N. Ramanathan, Nazir Jairazbhoy and Mukund Lath. His interests in both teaching and research focus on music as a universal human activity, a non-verbal expressive system communicated primarily through sound. Richard is interested in understanding how different musical systems work in the contexts in which they are performed, or were performed in the past, and in developing tools for analysing their structure and meaning.

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