This year, Swami Haridas-Tansen Sangeet Nritya Mahotsava remembered the illustrious sarod player, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.

The Bhartiya Sangeet Sadan dedicated their annual Swami Haridas-Tansen Sangeet Nritya Mahotsava this year, to the memory of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. The three-day festival, sponsored by Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts, was held recently at the Shankar Lal Hall in New Delhi.

The concluding evening stood out as a true tribute to the late Ustad when his disciples and sons — Pandit Vinay Bharat Ram, Aashish Khan and Alamgir Khan — paid their homage through the reposeful music their legendary guru taught them. It must have been a journey through memory lane for Pandit Ravi Shankar, the guru bhai of the late Ustad and the chief guest of the evening, who stayed throughout the vocal and instrumental recitals despite his age and the biting cold weather.

Aashish Khan was a familiar face as he has played earlier also but Alamgir Khan was a sonorous surprise whose mature musicality belied his youth. The gifted brothers opened their sarod recital with an astonishing alap jhod in Bageshri, the most appropriate raga of the hour.

Keeping up the true tradition of late Khan Saheb's consummate musicianship, the reposeful rendering devoid of any artifice and gimmickry instantly reached the hearts of the rasikas. Swapan Chaudhuri, the ace percussionist sitting in the middle of the two brothers, joined them on tabla reciprocating in equal measure, when the slow masitkhani and medium tempo razakhani gat compositions followed in Bageshri-Kanhara set to Teen tala. The sublime sarod recital concluded with a melodious dhun in Mishra Maand.

Earlier, the evening had opened with a vocal recital by Pandit Vinay Bharat Ram who chose not only the raga Chandra Nandan, a creation of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, but also the bandishes composed by him, rendering ‘Man haran chale Kanha….' the bara Khayal set to slow Ek tala and “din ginat re bamhana…' the chhota Khayal that followed in medium tempo Teen tala before concluding with a thumri in Manjh-Khamaj ‘oh tharhe Chhail-Bihari….”. He was ably accompanied on tabla by Faiyaz Khan and on violin by Vinod Pawar.

Shujaat Hussain Khan's sitar and Pandit Channulal Mishra's vocal recitals were the musical attractions of the inaugural evening. Shujaat played a mesmerising Jhinjhoti followed by a lighter dhun in Mishra Pahadi where his singing was also applauded by the audience.

Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and Salil Bhatt played raga Gaoti as a jugalbandi on Mohan and Satwik veena respectively, their own adaptation of the conventional guitar. Ram Kumar Mishra gave them superb support on tabla.

Vishwa Mohan Bhatt also sang a romantic composition in Mishra Maand and invited the organiser and Kathak exponent Uma Sharma for an impromptu abhinaya session. Uma not only obliged but also proved that she has got the unique gift of the instant ‘upaj' Kathak is known for and which is disappearing fast from this classical dance style.

Imran Ahmad and Tanveer, , the gifted sons of Ustad Nasir Ahmad Khan of Dilli gharana, together presented a brilliant vocal recital in raga Rageshri. The performance was evidence of their systematic training and vigorous practice, but the taan patterns became repetitive towards the end. They had the best of accompanying artistes in Mehmood Dhaulpuri on harmonium, Murad Ali on sarangi and Sudhir Pande on tabla.