A Tribute to Legendary Composers: A festival that celebrates iconic composers and their bandishes

Now in its third year, the NCPA Tata Capital Bandish: A Tribute to Legendary Composers continues to identify some of the finest bandishes, from some of the greatest musicians of the past.

At the heart of the festival lies the celebration of the Bandish, a complex and subtle concept encompassing the intent, content, character and context of a specific piece of music. These will be performed by some of the finest performing artistes who usually have a teaching-learning link with the composers. The artistes comprise both Hindustani and Carnatic styles.

This year the festival features the compositions of legendary Hindustani and Carnatic composers from the North and South Indian traditions such as Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (Sabrang), Shrikrishna Ratanjankar (Sujaan), Thyagaraja, Purandaradasa (Purandara Vitthala), Bade Ramdas (Mohan pyare/Govind swami), Shambhunath Mishra (Nath Piya) and Shyamcharan Mishra (Shyamdas). Their bandishes will be presented by Ajoy Chakrabarty, Ulhas Kashalkar, Sudha Raghunathan, Rajan and Sajan Mishra and Girija Devi.

The concept ‘bandish' has critical implications on music making, performing, teaching, learning and listening and lies at the heart of a musical performance of any genre.

Its origin lies in the Sanskrit bandha, the Persian band, the German bund and the English bind; all of which mean to bind or hold together. It represents a central seed idea upon which a performance is built.

While selecting musicians, the focus is to ensure that iconic composers are represented. This year Bade Ghulam Ali, whose range both as a composer and performer ranged from pure classical to thumri, and S. Ratanjankar, one of the most prolific composers of his times who specifically enriched his music with the knowledge of Carnatic music, will be performed by Ajoy Chakrabarty and Ulhas Kashalkar respectively.

The bandishes of Bade Ramdasji from Benares whose influence on musicians of any genre from the region and beyond is well recorded will be brought alive by Rajan and Sajan Mishra who hail from the same gharana.

The programme will come to a close with a rare opportunity to hear semi classical music from Girija Devi.

The NCPA will also run Visual Voices, a photo exhibition of renowned Indian musicians from July 7 to 15 at the Piramal Art Gallery, curated by Mukesh Parpiani, Head of Piramal Gallery, NCPA.

Photographs of Hindustani and Carnatic vocalists and instrumentalists will be on display, as a part of a unique exhibition devoted to musicians who died during the past decade.

The selection includes musical icons such as M. S. Subbulakshmi, Bhimsen Joshi, Bismillah Khan, Vilayat Khan, D. K. Pattammal, Ali Akbar Khan, among others.

The display will include photographs, spanning 30 years and more, culled from the NCPA archives, and those taken by independent photographers.

Bottomline: Focus on the central seed idea upon which a performance is built

NCPA Tata Capital Bandish: A Tribute to Legendary Composers

When: July 6 to 8

Where: Tata theatre, NCPA, Mumbai