Rajarani National Music Festival provided a platform for Carnatic, Hindustani and Odissi music.
The sprawling green lawns of the elegant 11th century Rajarani temple in Bhubaneswar provided an apt ambience for the recently concluded three-day Rajarani National Music Festival hosted by the Department of Tourism of Government of Orissa. The festival showcased some of the maestros of the three major music traditions of India — Carnatic, Hindustani and Odissi.
Celebrated Carnatic vocalist O.S. Arun who performed on the inaugural evening and drew the largest crowd, was the star attraction of the festival. His rendition of a composition of Muthuswami Dikshitar in praise of Lord Ganesh set to raag Hamsadhwani was followed by the immensely popular Pancharatna kritis of the 19th century saint poet composer Thyagaraja in praise of Lord Rama.
The captivating concert concluded with a Marathi abhang by saint Namdev and a Tillana set to raag Desh composed by Lalgudi Jairaman.
Coincidentally and interestingly, the festival featured two pairs of immensely popular musician brothers of the nation — Hindustani vocalists Rajan-Sajan Mishra and Carnatic violinists Ganesh-Kumaresh.
The Mishra brothers staged a fitting finale to the festival with their sublime presentation of meditative music. Their first rendition was set to raag Bageshree and it was followed by two bhajans — sadha raseo and Ab krupa karo Ramnam se dukhtalo. Ably accompanied on tabla by Pandit Sohanlal Mishra and on harmonium by Sumit Mishra, they mesmerised with their harmonious elaboration of the raags in the vilambit, madhya-laya and drut segments.
Similarly, Ganesh-Kumaresh duo was captivating in their recital of raag Mayamalava Gaula. It was followed by a fusion concert giving glimpses of the intricacies of the Carnatic music tradition. R.Ramesh on mridangam and Trichy Krishna on ghatam were brilliant as accompanists.
Septuagenarian veteran Odissi musicologist Pandit Damodar Hota has never let age dampen his spirit or the appeal of his voice that he has mastered as the distinguished disciple of legendary Hindustani musician Pandit Omkarnath Thakur. Braving illness, Hota regaled with his recital of raags Kokila, Natakalyani and Averi.
Similarly, contemporary Odissi music's best known vocalist-composer Guru Ramahari Das along with his disciple and immensely popular Odissi singer Bijay Kumar Jena had a soul stirring duet recital.
The concluding evening of the festival witnessed a captivating concert of Orissa's indigenous percussion instruments led by mardal exponent Guru Dhaneswar Swain.
The band's Tala-vadya kutcheri, an ensemble of a number of percussion instruments — mardal, tabla, tikira, khanjani, khol, nal, jhanja, ghungura, manjira, dhol and jhumka — added a distinct dimension to the music festival.