Sampranita, the Shakti Foundation fund-raiser, was a wonderful showcase of music from the soul

When the master-flautist Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia is around, listening to a concert earthy and divine, serious but laced with lines of humour, cannot remain just a pipe dream. So it was at Sampranita, the Shakti Foundation fund-raiser held at the Music Academy recently.

There was also the boyish and charming U. Shrinivas (the Foundation's ambassador), who let the delightful contrast of an impeccable white kurta and a gleaming blue and brown mandolin (gifted by jazz maestro John McLaughlin) flow into his music as he strung varied emotions with dexterity.

What's more? There were Vijay Ghate (tabla), Selva Ganesh (kanjira) and V. Praveen (mridangam) whose rapid-fire rhythmic passages generated an atmosphere of urgency and drama.

The harmonious five made Sampranita resonate the Shakti Foundation's cause of creating a barrier-free environment for the physically-challenged, as they crossed musical fences to present a compelling and well-proportioned concert.

The group began with ‘Vathapi Ganapatim' led by Chaurasia's hypnotic bansuri. The piece stood out as much for its melodic phrases as for its rhythmic interludes with each instrument's distinct timbre conveyed clearly. The veteran displayed an array of vocal and percussive effects through short and long-breathed swara passages. The supreme tone of Shrinivas' mandolin was the most striking — warmly mellow in the lower register and stridently clear at the top. He sometimes soared high above the accompaniments, and, at other times, fitted beautifully into the orchestral texture.

The percussionists displayed fine artistry, Selva Ganesh's innovative sounds on the diminutive kanjira and his konnakol (uttering of the talas) were notable and so were Praveen and Vijay's restrained and robust playing. The percussionists' joyful thumps lent a wonderfully fresh feeling to the traditional music.

The two celebrated instrumentalists then went solo, though briefly, Chaurasia delving into raga Jog and Shrinivas taking up a Koteeswara Iyer composition in Chala Nata.

They came together again to pay tribute to the founder of the Shakti Foundation, Velan Raghuvir, through the riveting ‘Krishna nee begano baro' in Yamunakalyani. The piece ended with a short and crisp sawaal-jawaab.

The artistes spoke highly about the commitment of Vasanth Raghuvir and all those associated with the Shakti Foundation and pledged their support. “It makes me emotional every time I think about Velan's parents and the way they are carrying forward their son's dream of integrating the physically- challenged into the social mainstream,” said Pandit Chaurasia.

Guests of honour Shanta Rangarajan lit the lamp and Justice M. Thanikachalam felicitated the artistes. He also released the Shakti Foundation souvenir, the first copy of which was received by Pandit Chaurasia.

Michael Jackson's ‘Heal the World', the theme song of the Shakti Foundation, made for a moving finale.