With the youth increasingly drawn to either Western pop music or Bollywood songs, doyen of Hindustani classical music Pandit Jasraj was keen to provide a platform to those excelling in Indian classical music.

Though Panditji could not perform at the inter-city festival, known to music connoisseurs as Jalsa, which was held at Ansal Plaza here on Saturday, he was satisfied to see his disciples Rattan Mohan Sharma and Ankita Joshi perform. The famous Wadali Brothers also performed.

Panditji’s dream was realised in 2005 when his daughter Durga Jasraj, a television celebrity who hosted “Antakshari” along with Anu Kapoor, came up with the idea of hosting a musical extravaganza across the country.

Shedding light on the festival, Durga, founder and director of Art and Artistes, said: “My father’s vision led to the creation of Jalsa in 2006. He travels across the globe and has the expertise to discover a promising talent who needs a platform to demonstrate his or her skills. We do not discriminate on the basis of age or even genre. Quality of music is the sole criteria for selection.”

Over the years, the festival has provided a platform to tribal communities, Manipuri folk musicians, Awadhi folk musicians and Gujarati folk musicians. “The idea was to penetrate into every State. So, we are encouraging Hindustani classical, Carnatic music, bhajan and qawwali. At the same time, we encourage musicians who come up with innovative ideas.”

Panditji is convinced that classical music, which has been popular in the country since centuries, will thrive in the country in the future.

“Do not even entertain the thought that classical music will die in the country. It has been thriving in the country and will remain popular in future. Even Bollywood song writers derive inspiration from classical music.”

Since Durga was keen to have on board the “bandwallahs”, who play music during weddings, for the first time a band from Jaipur played during the concert.

This year, Jalsa has been held in Chennai, Kolkata, Dehradun, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Amritsar, Indore, Ahmedabad, Pune, Hubli, Ranchi and Jaipur.

The festival will travel to Kochi where it will be held on March 1.