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IAPA Concert Reviews

 

9.        Pandit Vinayak Torvi

 

       8.     Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar

 

7.     Pandit Vinayak Torvi

 

6.       Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar

 

5.       Chittani Ramachandra Hegde

 

4.       Sangeet Prabhat 2006

 

3.       Pandit Prabhakar Karekar

 

2.       Jugalbandi: Sitar and Veena

 

1.      Parameshwar Hegde

 

 

Pandit Vinayak Torvi concert on 28th April, 2012

 

At Chinmaya Mission (Vrindavan), Cranbury NJ

A somewhat cool day for the end of April was warmed and heated to musical ecstasy by an explosive concert of Hindustani classical music by Pandit Vinayak Torvi, known to rasikas as “Sur Laya ka Badshah”.  The concert was held at the Chinmaya Mission Vrindavan in Cranbury and attended by a decent sized gathering of about 100 rasikas.

Trained in the “Gurukul” style by the legendary doyen of the Gwalior Gharana Gnyanacharya Gururao Deshpande and subsequently by Bharat Ratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Torvi has emerged as a leading exponent of Hindustani classical music not only in the Gwalior Gharana style, but also in Agra and Kirana Gharana styles.  He was accompanied by two of his disciples, Ravindra Torvi (New Hampshire based nephew) and Dattatreya Velankar (Bangalore) on harmonium and vocal support, while our own Sai Shyam Mohan provided outstanding Tabla accompaniment.

Pandit Torvi began the concert with a bada khayaal in raag Puriya Dhanashree, which had two parts.  The Vilambit portion was set to ek taal and was rendered absolutely wonderfully in the style of his Guru Pandit Gururao Deshpande. Here, Panditji slowly built up the structure of the raag with the ease  The powerfully resonant and shruthi-shuddha voice of Panditji made the intricately woven taans (swara vistaara in “Aa” kaaras) extra enjoyable. I was given to understand that the granddaughter of Panditji’s Guru, who was in the audience, was emotionally moved on many an occasion as Panditji’s singing reminded her very much of her grandfather singing. The supporting artists chipped in at very high levels and the audience was very fortunate to hear some excellent vocal support by Dattatreya, harmonium support by Ravindra Torvi and Tabla support by Sai Shyam.  In particular, the Tabla responses to many of the movements initiated by Panditji were outstanding.  The Dhrut composition in teen taal was the often heard “Paayaliya jhankaar mori jhanana jhanana baaje…” and provided an apt culmination to a wonderfully explosive musical experience of bada khayaal.

The Puriya Dhanashree khayaal was followed by a chota khayaal in raag Tilak Kamod.  The compositions chosen by Panditji to deliver this raag were devotional and set a very different mood in the audience.  Pandit Torvi also went on to demonstrate through a short rendering of raag Kamod the differences between it and Tilak Kamod which was a popular raag once upon a time and has fallen “out of fashion” in modern times.  Panditji then rounded off the first session of the evening with a very soulful Kabir bhajan rendered in raag mishra Keeravani with the words “Bada vikata yama ghaata, Guru bin kaun bataave baat…”.  It was a very suitable piece given the nature of the venue where similar themes are frequently discussed by Chinmaya mission Swamijis and attendees.

 

After a tea break, Pandit Torvi opened the second innings with a sixer in the form of an almost bada khayaal in Miya Malhar which he learnt from Late Pandit Bhimsen Joshi over a period of one year in Pune.  I expected the dhrut composition in this rendering to be as explosive as that rendered by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi (YouTube provides a video of this piece).  While it was a somewhat toned down version by comparison, it was nevertheless exhilarating with particular emphasis on the way the sense of thunderous rains coming down from the heavens was delivered.  I particularly was moved by the tremendous ending of this piece.

Pandit Torvi continued the concert with light classical pieces.  He sang two Kannada compositions and one Marathi Abhang. The latter was a composition by Sant Gnyaneshwar. He rendered “Daya maado ranga..”, Purandara Dasa composition in raag jogia.  Normally this is heard in raag Kalyani in Carnatic concerts and seeing it rendered in Jogia provided an altogether different experience.   The second Kannada composition was the last item of the concert in Bhairavi raag (KaNgaLivyaathako Kaveri Rangana nODada…) which Panditji finished with a tarana flourish.  This tarana reminded me and possibly many in the audience of a very popular old Manna Dey song “Laaga chunari mein daag…”.

All in all, it was a very memorable concert that showcased a no-nonsense from-the-bottom-of-heart devotional concert by Pandit Torvi and his team.  Kudos to the organizers for putting together such a wonderful program.  There were quite a few people who came around and told me during the interval that they had never heard anything so grand!

 

Shashidhar Rao

 

 

 

An IAPA Presentation

 

A DHRUPAD CONCERT by USTAD WASIF DAGAR

 with SHRI MOHAN SHYAM SHARMA

QAMAR DAGAR and LAURANCE BASTIT

                                               

On a mid-spring morning, on the 6th of April, an overcast Sunday, Shri and Smt Arvind and Rohini Dhruv hosted coincidentally a Dhruvpad concert at their lavish, aesthetically and tastefully decorated home in East Brunswick.  A beautiful rich Indian drapery adorned the backdrop to a matching dais, created especially for the troupe of musicians, in a large room; adjacent annexes then had individual seating and a viewing TV screen. A deliciously and painstakingly prepared lunch by the IAPA team was served by the Dhruvs at the end of the concert.

 

Ustad Wasif Dagar was the Dhrupad soloist of the day; he needs no introduction to any music lover, as he belongs to the most elite lineage of Dhrupad singers in India.  Today, he is the youngest in the 20th generation of the carriers of that banner, and is one of the finest and ablest singers you would find yourself listening to. He is a textbook singer of the form, but has now acquired his own style and methodology to promote it to a more beautified and stylized level.

 

He was accompanied by a similarly young Pakhawaj player, Shri Mohan Shyam Sharma – and what appealed to me was that as a sincere and loyal accompanist, he sat on the sidelines, in absolute silence, not moving a muscle until required to begin his rhythmic taal to the bandish in motion. I thought that was extraordinary by way of a musician’s discipline. Both the Taanpura players - Ms. Qamar Dagar (the sister) and Ms. Laurence Bastit, lent a romantic feel with their beatific countenances,  contributing in complete and silent loyalty for the entire duration of the Ustad’s renditions.

 

The concert began with a short explanation of Dhrupad, by Ustad Wasif Dagar, as to what was at the very beginning, its origins, and how it progressed through time. This is indeed very helpful to some who are only barely acquainted with this form. It is predominantly a male arena of vocal singing, and originally was meant to be dedicational to Shiv or Vishnu, with stutis and shlokas in Sanskrit. The Moghuls who were highly entranced by this style of music, desperately yearned to incorporate it into their scheme of things, but unable to understand the meanings of the shlokas, or padas, reverted to soft mumblings of tana, nana, tom, taran etc – which has become the norm of Dhrupad alaaps today. The Ustad however did explain that somewhere you will feel the resonance of Om, Anant, Narayan, and such incantations in the modulations or in the various twists of the alaaps. 

 

Wasif Saheb began with an Ahir Bhairav, in Dhamar (14 beats) and the sonorous mellifluousness of his alaaps was quite mesmerizing, as were the rising, electrifying crescendos of layakaari keeping it moving, until the end. A Todi followed – “Oodhau, kaare, kaun ke hain meet” – in Sooltaal (10 beats) – mind you, these are not taals you hear in everyday renditions of Khayaals or other bandishes; this piece was shorter, but nonetheless captivating with his style of Dhrupad alaaps and layakaari. Next came a Hindol bandish – “Naad bhed aparampar, paar hove na guni” in Chautaal (comprising 14 beats) - hindola literally means a swing, - and thus in the movement of this rendition, his alaaps and bols swung softly and undulating over the swars reminiscent of a softly swinging Naayika!! In their family, he mentioned, Hindol contained only 4 swars, as opposed to the traditional 5. His Hindol carried a true parallel to the hither-to-thither swing of notes and was very soothing, almost like a lullaby, calming to the spirit, as indeed Dhrupads claim to affect us.

A Komal Rishabh Asaavari followed – “Taan sunaai bansuriya” in Sooltaal; you have to listen to a Dhrupad rendition and then another rendition of the same to realize how different the melody ‘strokes’ are in creating the same picture!! The way the Dhrupad advances is almost like a little fawn cavorting in the woods, inaudibly stepping, skipping, hopping, and eventually covering short territories of the octave of the terrain, and yet spanning a limitless entirety!  He closed with a Hori in Hindol – “Braj mein dekho dhoom machaayi, natkhat Kanha ko laaj na aayee” set to Chautal (14 beats). Predominantly almost all his bandishes were dedications to Krishna, in his various moods, often the capering cavorting Krishna, or the Krishna forced to follow an objective star, relegating his friends, and leaving the gopis in viraha, or the Krishna in his rambunctious rollicking role, at the time of Holi, when in full colour and chaos, he would participate with his fellowmen and village girls with full fervour of the festival.

 

The grand thing about Dhrupad is that it is an entirely different genre of Hindusthani classical music – and even if dominated and meant to be monopolized by men, like the Tandava of Bharatnatyam, it has a very soft, and calming influence on the listener, almost mesmerizing them into a trance, especially since the rhythm is so predominant. Whereas Wasif Saheb’s alaaps start with an almost murmured mumble, in perfect tune, they gather a lot of momentum as they go along, and the singer has to put every muscle into use to gather the strength, accord, melody and harmony into one congruous presentation of a listenable piece of music. Accompanied by an able companion Shri Mohan Shyam Sharma, whose every beat is in complete unison with Ustad Wasif’s notes, they make a dynamic duo and frame a picture of notes, and melody that is memorable in its every nuance!!

 

                                                                                    -----------------------Preeti Mathur

 

 

 

 

 

 
Pandit Vinayak Torvi (on June 3, 2007)

 

The name of Pandit Vinayak Torvi evokes the sensation one feels in the presence of a spectacular phenomenon of nature such as an active volcano spewing pristine lava enriched with all the glorious elements buried in the guts of Mother earth.  A very small group of about 20 rasikaas were fortunate enough to such a treat last Sunday (June 3, 2007) at Simply Yoga as Pandit Torvi presented what can only be described as a stunningly outstanding concert of Hindustani music accompanied by Shri GuruMurthy Vaidya on Tabla, Shri Keerti Kumar Badseshi on harmonium and Ms. Sheetal Karhade on Taanpura.  Both Shri Badseshi and Ms. Karhade provided excellent vocal support during the concert.  The concert was traditionally complete in its structure and embellished by a 75 minute long baDa Khayal, two Chota Khayals, and devotional songs in Kannada, Marathi, Hindi including a Thumri.

 

Pandit Torvi began his concert with a baDa Khayal in Maru Bihag, presented in the styles of both the Kirana and Jaipur Gharanaas.  This was absolutely the best exponentiation of Maru Bihag  that I have heard in a concert, live or recorded.  The words “Maanath naahi…saba jana samajhatha naahi..” were woven through a very full-bodied Alaap (Vilambit, Ek Taal) which exemplified all the subtle and distinct movements of the raga. Panditji used his rich and  resonant voice superbly to bring out the combined romantic and devotional bhaava of the words while embellishing the Vilambit composition with a wide range of powerful crisp boltaans after a meticulous badhat. His enunciation of the Swaras in the Nerval style characteristic of Carnatic music was particularly enjoyable.  Singing at D-sharp, his attainment of glorious heights of notes in the upper register of the raaga was absolutely marvelous. His teamwork with Shri Vaidya produced some outstanding episodes of Layakaari.  The Dhrut composition “saba Milan bajaaye manamohana…” set to Teen Taal provided a fitting finale to the glorious enunciation of the raaga.

 

A chota khayaal in Raga Poorvi (with a touch of Bihag) was begun was a short Alaap and set the mood of the late evening and early night very beautifully.  The words “mai ka..saba such dheen hoon…krupakaraNa duhkaharaNa sukhakaraNa” constituted the bandish set to teen taal.   The fact that this composition was shorter in duration did not deprive the rasikaas of any of the glories of raaga enunciation that was seen in the Maru Bihag composition.  Some of the powerfully exemplary taans clearly had the Bheemsen Joshi touch to them.  Panditji concluded the pre-interval session of the concert with a rarely heard and yet a beautiful composition of Vijaya Vithala Daasa “Yele mana muraari yenna kondaadO..” set to a raagamaalika starting with Mishra Piloo and including shades of Shivaranjani and Durga. The latter two raagas were carefully slipped in during the rendering to enhance the Mishra Piloo effect.

 

At my request, Pandit Torvi presented an outstandingly devotional piece in Abhogi.  The pattern of notes “Dha. Sa..Re..Ma..” captured the emotional mood of the raaga.  The Vilambit composition with the words “charan dhar kaanha mope dayaa karo…” and “laaj rakho…” were set to jhap taal, while the Dhrut composition “Deen dayaalu parameshwar..” was set to Teen taal.   Being a great fan of both Pandit Torvi and Abhogi, I felt that the appetite of the audience could only be satisfied through another exponentiation of this raaga at a future concert.  This piece was also embellished with some stunning layakaari by Shri Vaidya as well as some superb vocal accompaniment by Shri Badseshi.

The remainder of the concert was characterized by three short pieces – a soulful Thumri in raaga Sohini, a Marathi Abhang by Sant Gnyanadeva in Mishra Pahaadi and a short Bhajan in Bhairavi.  In spite of the fact that these were short pieces, Panditji touched upon all the subtle facets that set the characteristics of these raagas, especially Sohini and Bhairavi, which contributed to the concert being a highly engaging and enjoyable musical experience.

 

I would once again like to congratulate Shri Krishna Hegde for putting together the concert of Pandit Torvi almost at the heels of another great previous concert by Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar. The cup of joy for the connoisseurs of Hindustani music certainly was overflowing during the last month.

Shashidhar Rao

 

Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar (May 19, 2007)

 

 

On 19th May 2007, a small group of lucky few New Jersey music fans were treated to a fabulous concert of Hindustani music by Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar. The audience was left with no doubt about why Pandit Kashalkar is absolutely the most outstanding exponent of Gwalior gharana. During the concert, accompanied by Suresh Talwalkar (Tabla) and Sudhir Nayak (Harmonium), Panditji presented compositions in 5 ragAs: Shudha Nat, Sindhura, Gaud Malhar, AdaaNa and Bhairavi. I was amazed to learn during the intermission that Pandit Kashalkar rendered his music singing at D-Sharp

Pandit Kashalkar began the concert with a baDa Khayal in rarely heard evening ragA Shudha Nat, launching it with a very soothing Alaap of just the right length of time. Both the Vilambit (Raakh na ….mori laaj..) and Dhrut (jaare gharava kayi de mora sandeshava…) compositions were rendered to a rhythm of 16 beats (Teen Taal). From the very first moment, Panditji established his full musical grace and illustrated the intricacies of the raga with considerable depth. I particularly recall the way my heart appeared to be reverberating to the capture of his Pancham. He enunciated many complex patterns with effortless ease, coupling them with very graceful danseuse movements of his fingers corresponding to the positions of the notes on the ascending and descending scales of Shudha Nat. Particularly impressive was the purity and melodiously sonorous nature of his swaras in the higher octave – fruits of a lifetime of practice, practice and practice.

 

Pandit Kashalkar continued his concert with a very brief, introductory Alaap in ragA Sindhura, which is somewhat related to ragA Kafi. The main hallmark of his rendering the composition he chose to render in this ragA was the feeling of Bhakti (devotion), with the words “sunatha saba lOkava ……sauthana sangha….  While the baDa Khayal was not for the musically weak-hearted, this piece was delightfully enjoyable to the ears of both the experts and novices in the audience.

Post-intermission was a very soulful rendering of Gaud Malhar which was once again characterized by a beautifully rendered Alaap followed by Vilambit (Hum so preetham kaahe bOl….) and Dhrut Khayal (saiyya muraari main tho haari).  The bhaava of surrender to the almighty was beautifully brought out the Dhrut part of the composition. The Tabla and Harmonium accompaniments came into their elements during this composition, demonstrating outstanding teamwork in bringing to the fore the spectacular nature of the composition.

 

The composition in AdaaNa was very memorable as it brought the memories quickly back to the famous title song of “Jhanak Jhanak paayal baaje..” sung by Ustad Amir Khan.  The taraana that Pandit Kashalkar rendered with sheer dance-like grace enthralled the minds of one and all, as was evident by the instantaneous feedback from the members of the audience. The concert was concluded in a traditional style with a composition in Bhairavi. Panditji’s transition to this “sadaa Suhaagan” ragA from the ecstasy of AdaaNa was absolutely dramatic and wonderful. All in all, there was no doubt in our minds that this was a stunningly outstanding rendering of very traditional music.  I had only heard of Pandit Ram Marathe’s musical genius, having never his music live.  But this concert by his disciple was clearly a window into that past glorious world of vintage gimmick-free classical music.

 

IAPA deserves heartiest congratulations for organizing such a wonderful concert.

 

Shashidhar Rao

 

Captivating Performance by Chittani at New Jersey

 

Yakshagana is an art form popular along the refreshing coastal line of Karnataka, India. Every year, soon after the lashing rains on coastal Karnataka calm down bringing in a cool breeze with a humid air, millions of fans of Yakshagana look forward to spending evenings and sometimes-sleepless nights watching their favorite stars shine as “Yakshas”. Soon after a season you will realize that it is no more the mythological stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata that keep the audience enthralled but an enchanting performance by their stars and their reviving styles.

 

Gundabala, a small village near Honnavar, a town on the costal Karnataka is like Broadway of New York to Yakshagana. This is the place where stars prove their mettle and emerge from the streets. Chittani Ramachandra Hegde, popularly known as “Chittani” among his fans, is an idol revered by thousands of fans of Yakshagana. I still remember, as a kid I would walk miles of distance in the darkness of woods to watch him perform on a clear moon laden night. For those thousands of fans like me, who miss Chittani in a far away American subcontinent, it was a great opportunity to watch him perform at Unitarian Church, Princeton, New Jersey on 10th September 2006.

 

“Peacock Dance”, the way a peacock would welcome fresh rainy season after a colorful spring, had Chittani style written all over it. In his own mesmerizing style the septuagenarian danced like a peacock, painting every colorful eye of feathers of peacock. This was a clear indication of the arriving main course of the feast.

 

Be it Duryodhana of “Gadhayuddha”, Dushtabuddhi of “Chandrahasa Charitre”, Bhasmasura of “Bhasmasura Mohini”, characters come alive, when performed by Chittani. His performance as “Karthaveerya” of “Karthaveeryarjuna Vijaya” was typical to Chittani with the same styles as a proud mythological King. When a mean Ravana approaches him begging for a war he tries to avoid it by ignoring him, convincing him with some persuasion. The confrontation begins with a war of words between the kings each one trying to over-power the other. Chittani’s performance received a thunderous applause when he teased Ravana for his feminine antics rather than being a valiant hero.            

All efforts of Karthaveerya go in vain when adamant Ravana doesn’t heed his advice thanks to his ever-swollen ego. Obviously, super natural powers of Shiva bestowed to Ravana do not come handy on a war front (apparently because Ravana had ignored to perform his ritual duties), an indication that world needs more peace lovers not war monger.

 

The entire auditorium at Princeton was spellbound by the fantastic performance of the idol. It was a reminiscent of the old days at Gundabala, when true genius would arrive with every passing season. The team of Yakshagana enthusiasts at New Jersey deserves a special mention on the occasion for making a special weekend of Yakshagana fans around New Jersey.    

 

Udaya Hegde

 
SANGEET PRABHAT – APRIL 2006

 

The intermittent rain on Sunday morning, had somewhat saddened the cherry blossoms, but was in no way dampening to the eager spirits of the all too enthusiastic listeners, who hastened to be at the Rutgers Cooks college venue on time. I always marvel at the zealousness of the team that works so hard to make this event happen each year! Being impresarios may be impressive on a resume, or in references, but it is a jolly lot of hard work. Everything the team does, starting from selecting and inviting the artistes, e-vitas, registrations, arranging the on site meals, the sound/acoustics system, right to the close and honouring the artistes, is much appreciated by us all. As for the music programme, I write about it from the heart, as I listen with it, ----  I am no critic, just an appreciator, so I shall be talking only of the notable highlights of the day, and not of such deep nuances as lazy lagghis, lackadaisical layas or lost shrutis….that is the job of pandits and masters of the art. With such young artistes performing, I am hardly able to comprehend their achievements, let alone set about to find fault!!

 

The opening artiste, young Rajendra Vaishampayan played, with practiced aplomb, a touch of interesting, emotive melodrama, and with keen intent, on the “Samvaadini” a new twist to the Harmonium, (literally, - with a top panel of added keys to the existing piece, for tuning and additional resonance; devised by his guru, Pandit Chimote, the instrument has all the noteworthiness of the staccatoed harmonium, but with an elongated melodious trail). His Aheeri Todi was very appropriate, tuned in to the slightly melancholic outdoors, and went straight to the soul – his command on the keys is wonderful and he is in communication with the audience, with his accompanying gestures, visibly enjoying his little stint himself. His Pahari dhun was mesmerisingly beautiful, and very well rendered.

 

Ratnakar Nawathe, now a well known IAPA artiste, ably lent his nimble fingerwork on the tabla - and it was a grand start to the morning! He stands his ground nicely, with both, instrumentalists and vocalists, and has done so for many long years, now having sweetly familiarizing himself with various audiences.

 

Pretty, petite and young Rachna Bodas was next, - quite an unassuming little figure with rather a composed stage presence, a surprisingly deep and rich voice, a la guru Smt Veena Sahasrabuddhe, (who incidentally graced the show herself – so many of you who were absent have this regret to add to your Sunday missed list), and a very mature style of alaaps, and taans, to embellish her commanding renditions beginning with Nat Bhairav, then going into Madamadh Sarang. Her taraana was fantastic – written by Veena Sahasrabuddhe, and replicated with the guru’s rapid-moving-taan skill. The Nirguni Bhajan also had all the ingredients – the pathos, ‘pukaar’ and quality of Veena Tai’s own, so it was a double treat to hear it.

 

Kedar Naphade, young, astute, and a perfectionist, now an established harmonium player intently  shadowed the artiste’s Khhayals, Taraana and Bhajan with flying fingers and faithful ease, thereby complimenting the presentation ably, ornately, and completely.

 

Another young artiste, Anupama Bhagwat was a picture of beauty and grace, in her flowing red and manila sari, as she made her way to the stage.  Poised with sheer femininity, she began her Sitar recital with poignant plucks at the (heart)strings of her Alhaiya Bilawal,  then swinging into the mood of the later noon hours with a melodious Shuddh Sarang, and an  electrifying alaap/jorrh/jhaala in both her pieces. She looked perfectly comfortable, and none of the frenzied, speedy forays into the deft world of hastening fingerwork on either end of her Sitar seemed to perturb her, whilst the audience swayed, slapped their knees in taal, and literally head banged in unison with her notes, and in obvious admiration.

 

Sai Shyam Mohan, also a youngster, modest, and handsome, a new face to me, and perhaps in the concert arena also, was delightful, both in personality, and as a tabla accompanist to Anupama. The duo did very well, and each one complemented the other’s tempo, mood and mutual musical communication.

 

With an ovational end to the programme, thoroughly enjoyed and savoured by all, and a heartfelt appreciation of the Team and the performing Artists, there is an ardent hope that keeps us alive that something similar is waiting around the calendar for next year too!!

 

Preeti Mathur, NJ

 

 

PANDIT PRABHAKAR KAREKAR (December 3, 2005)

 

A long-awaited Hindustani classical music concert was rendered by Pandit Prabhakar Karekar on December 3rd, 2005 at the Food Science auditorium of Rutgers University. Pandit Karekar was provided superb accompaniment on the Harmonium by Shri Anant Joshi and on the Tabla by Shri Rohidas Parab. The concert was a truly divine journey through the rich world of Khayaal, Bandish and Bhajan. Since my childhood, the name of Pandit Prabhakar Karekar was intimately associated with Natya Sangeet, but for this concert he chose very strictly and correctly to maintain the traditional classical platform.

 

Pandit Karekar began his concert with the ever popular evening raaga Yaman in which he presented three compositions, first two being in devotional light, the third in a romantic setting: (1) Vilambit Alaap in Ektaal (12 beats) with the devotional words “De Ho Mohe Daan..”, (2) Madhyalaya Ektaal “Aayi re Milan thohe..” and (3) Ada chouthal (14 beats) with the words “sugara chathura baiyya pakaratha..”.  The beginning of the Alaap seemed somewhat short and quick, but this may be the hallmark of the style of singing Panditji has developed over the years following his training with Pandit Suresh Haldankar, Pandit Jeethendra Abhisheki & Pandit C. R. Vyas. Once the raaga was set in motion, Panditji beautifully explored the depths of Yaman, while thoroughly enjoying (and bringing joy to the rasikas) many interesting combinations of Swaras.  The short and sweet taans coupled with enunciation of Swaras wove the devotional words into a lovely necklace that only Yaman is capable of bringing about.

 

After a nearly 70-minute opening piece, Panditji continued the first half of the program with a traditional bandish in GoudMalhaar with the romantic words “balama bahaar aayi…” in a slow medium pace and “Umada Ghana gagana aayori…” in Dhrut. Both the compositions were I think set to Teentaal (16 beats), but I could be wrong about the first part.  Here too, the exploration into the heart of the raaga and the words continued with strength, vigor and precision.  Panditji closed the first half of the musical feast with a beautiful Bhajan in raaga Bhoopali using a composition by one of his musical friends from Calcutta (Shri Apte) “tero sukh dukh me aayo kaam…”.  As a frequent listener of Carnatic music, I could see clear movements of Mohana in this Bhajan, which made relating to it even more divine.

 

After the interval, Pandit Karekar presented an unusual raaga Rajeshwari.  When he began the Alaap in rupak taal (7 beats), my restlessness reared its head as I could clearly detect a set of notes in the lower half of Malkauns, but could not understand what was going on in the other parts.  Panditji soon clarified that in Rajeshwari, Shudhdha Dhaivat is employed in place of the komal Dhaivat in Chandrakauns.  As with Yaman, the words of the Alaap were devotional in nature (Tumhara guna gaavo…) and those in Dhrut composition in Teentaal were interpretable both in devotional and romantic ways (“Kaise manavo…”).  To say that Panditji’s rendition of this raaga was absolutely superb would be an understatement. In my mind, I felt that this chota khayaal was the Jewel in the Crown of the entire concert. This bias is perhaps tainted by my own exposure to a new raaga that I had not heard of before and to which I managed to relate quickly.

 

The exposure to Kauns family of raagas continues with three lovely bandish pieces in Bahar Teentaal (“Belariya baag baag mein maliya…”), kaushi basanth Ektaal (“rithu basanth aayi…”) and Baageshri kauns Teentaal (“guni suba guNake..”).  The last two pieces skillfully combined raaga Malkauns with raagas Basanth and Baageshri, respectively. It was very delightful to hear the switches between the raagas to emphasize certain words of the composition in a clever way.  Panditji also demonstrated and explained the nuances and movements of these raagas with the Neraval like enunciation of the Swaras, which is always helpful to novices like me.

 

Pandit Karekar concluded an absolutely superb concert with a traditional Dadra in Bhairavi (banaavu baththiya…) and a Meerabai Bhajan (Muraliya baaje…) also in Bhairavi.  The first of these compositions brought back Saigal memories.

 

Before writing this chronicle, I googled Panditji for reviews and found them all referring to his very powerful voice with a distinct nasal twang. His voice is still very powerful and was most evident, when during one of the bandish pieces; he rendered a taan in the Mallikarjun Manasoor style of closing the lips together and yet producing music that resembles a controlled volcano of Swaras holding the words of the composition together.  In addition to his musical genius which he has built over several years of hard grind, his humble nature is very striking and moving.

 

This summary will be incomplete without a mention of the great job done by the accompanying artists, Anant Joshi and Rohidas Parab. Both these youngsters were perfect team members and complemented Panditji’s vocal rendition in an extremely effective manner. They skillfully followed and anticipated every musical move of the main artist, while providing occasional insights into their individual talents with utmost humility and care.

 

Since the concert, I have had the honor of speaking to Panditji whom I would like to thank very much for the details on the words and taals (I did not note these down during the concert).  I sincerely apologize to Panditji for any mistakes that I may have committed in noting here what he said to me on the phone.

 

Kudos to IAPA for the organization of yet another wonderful concert.

 

Shashidhar Rao

 

 

 

JUGALBANDI : SITAR AND VEENA

(Hindustani and Carnatic Classical)

November 6, 2005

 

Thanks to IAPA and CMANA , the jugalbandi concert of sitar and veena was a rare treat to NJ music lovers on Nov 6th at Temple Auditorium, Bridgewater, NJ.  It was a great opportunity to enjoy the two major systems of Indian classical music – Hindustani and Carnatic – performed on the same platform by two versatile musicians, Gurav Mazumdar on the sitar and  Jayanthi Kumaresh on the veena. They were supported by  Sri. Nitin Mitta on the tabla and Sri. Poovalur Srinivasan on the mridangam.

 

Throughout the concert, Jayanthi kept strictly to the traditional Carnatic style of handling the instrument, reminding us of the great veena maestro, the late Sri. S. Balachander .  Gurav, who learnt music under Ravi Shankar, played in the classical Hindustani style. Both artistes excelled in displaying their own skills individually as well as together.

 

The artistes enlightened the audience with a lucid introduction to each piece drawing the attention of the audience to the similarities and differences in the ragas and talas. The concert started with a piece in the raga Valaji in the Carnatic and its equivalent Kalavathi in Hindustani, followed by a kriti in adi thalam (teen taal in Hindustani). Their rendering of intricate kalpana swaras was impressive indeed.

 

The main item in the raga Kalyani (Yaman in Hindustani) was rendered in an elaborate format of a ragam – thanam – pallavi. Each artiste showed his or her mastery over the instrument individually and in unison, while rendering the niraval and kalpana swaras. The majestic resonance of the veena and the melodious sound from the sitar drew the rapt attention and applause from the audience. This was followed by an excellent performance of  thani avarthanam by the percussionist duo, raising the appreciation of the audience to the inevitable climax. 

 

Two light classical songs, one in Piloo (Misra Kapi in Carnatic) and the closing piece in Sindhubhairavi (Misra Bhairavi) were both delightful. In sum, the concert was extremely satisfactory to afficianados of Carnatic and Hindustani music. More such concerts can be expected to provide the scope for listeners of either style to come together and have exposure to and to appreciate the two great traditions in Indian classical music.

 

Padma Srinivasan

 

PT. PARAMESHWARA HEGDE (September 18, 2005)

 On September 18, 2005, a small gathering of rasikas were fortunate to listen to a fabulous session of Hindustani classical music rendered by Pandit Parameshwar Hegde at the residence of Smt. Vidya and Shri Gajanan Hegde in West Windsor. Pandit Parameshwar Hegde was provided superb accompaniment on the Harmonium by Shri Vyasmurthi Katti and on the Tabla by his brother Gopalkrishna Hegde. The concert was an outstanding journey through the rich world of five raagas and a devotional composition of Purandara Dasa. Pandit Hegde presented finest music in the Basavaraj Rajguru style that was subtly tinged with elements of dance and drama that made the concert truly memorable.  Thus, it is fair to say that he truly provided a window into the glories of the past world of his renowned Guru.

 

Pandit Hegde began his concert with a Bada Khayaal in the late afternoon raaga Multani with an Alaap that slowly but surely brought out the essence of this “Ghana” Raaga. The Alaap in Vilambit style brought out the rich repertoire of the Swaras with which he wove and spun very intricate taans that were a joy to listen.  He rendered two compositions in the fast-beat Dhrut style set to Teentaal (a cycle of 16 beats), one of which was devotional in nature and the second of a romantic nature.  He cleverly demonstrated subtle variations in the movements of the raaga to emphasize the two different emotions in these compositions.  As is the case with many a Hindustani vocalist, Pandit Hegde beautifully enunciated the associated Swaras (somewhat akin to the style of Neraval in Carnatic music) before singing the taans.  In my opinion, this makes listening to the music even more enjoyable, as one has the potential of learning on the fly.

 

The second item was a Chota Khayal in madhyalaya (medium speed) Teentaal in raaga Shri.  I have been often told that in Hindustani music Shri is regarded as a difficult raaga to sing and is subject to interpretations of the genius of the vocalist.  Certainly, we saw one very well-sculpted version of this raaga from Pandit Hegde.  One of the characteristics in Panditji’s Swara enunciation here was a subtle combination of slow and high speeds within a given cycle of the taal.

 

After a tea break, Pandit Hegde resumed with another Bada Khayaal in Bhoop, a raaga that I have heard very rarely in Hindustani music concerts.  His Alaap was an amazing roller-coaster as he traveled through the depths and heights of this pentatonic scale with absolute ease. Once he started on the Taraana after a short Dhrut composition, I lost a sense of the time and I wished that it had continued on endlessly.  However, when it did end, we were all provided a sense of the glorious heights that we had been swayed to.

 

The fourth item was a short composition in raaga Saraswathi, common to both Carnatic and Hindustani styles of music.  However, the movements in the two styles are distinct and there was not a hint of any of the well-known Carnatic compositions today.  Panditji’s rendering of Saraswathi was characterized by a few super-fast taans and he clearly demonstrated his control over packing many Swaras in short spans of the taal without any of the Swaras losing their distinct identity (like tiny beads on a necklace).

 

The last two pieces were a Purandara Dasa composition in what appeared to be similar to raaga Maand (but I could be wrong on this!!) and the ever popular Bhairavi Bhajan “Bhavani Dayaani…”.  Both these compositions were rendered with very short Alaap.

 

The musical feast was followed by a culinary one.  Many thanks to the host Hegde family. As one of the rasikas commented, great Indian music and great Indian food together equals a great evening.  It truly was!!

 

As always I welcome both negative and positive feedback on this note.  I am no expert in Indian classical music and I just follow my heart as I write this.  Hence, I could be committing mistakes and perhaps even blunders.

 

Shashidhar N. Rao

Shashidhar56@yahoo.com