The doyens of Hindustani classical music engaged the audience with their remarkable range at the Sangeet Vibhuti Festival.

Traditional wisdom says that the raga is not just a bunch of notes. It is not aaroha-avaroha alone. It has a certain kind of life, which is the manifestation of the life lived by the artiste who is singing or playing it. Ragas are reborn every time someone sings or plays them.

This power of regeneration hidden in the scale of a raga is kindled with the inner life, the creativity of the artistes presenting it. The curious stirring of an inner presence within the swara is the essence of raga, which depends on the artiste’s level of being. These thoughts came while attending concerts by some of the doyens of Hindustani classical music, when the Sopori Academy of Music & Performing Arts (Sa Ma Pa) presented Sangeet Vibhuti, a festival of doyens of Indian music at the Stein auditorium, India Habitat Centre recently.

The two day festival opened with a vocal recital by Vidushi Shanno Khurana, of the Rampur Sehaswan gharana. She also had the privilege of being groomed by stalwarts like S.N. Ratanjankar, Musalgaonkar and Thakur Jaydev Singh.

That Shanno Khurana is not only a versatile performer but an able guru as well, was proved this evening by Maitreyi Majumdaar providing vocal support to her guru. Starting with raga Shudhha Kalyan, Shanno sang the popular bara khayal “Bolan laage..” in vilambit Ek tala, followed by a chhota khayal in Teen tala.

After the detailed and efficient treatment of the main raga, she presented a few gems from her treasured repertoire of old compositions, comprising a trivat in raga Adaana, followed by raga-sagar. A rare composition of her guru Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan, this raga-sagar has 16 ragas in continuation.

Ustad Asad Ali Khan’s Rudra veena gave the essence of what Indian music is all about. His art became a benediction when he gave the riveting rendering of Miyan ki Malhar . The detailed alap-jod had the most authentic treatment of the monsoon raga, before he went on to play a dhrupad composition set to vilambit (slow) Chau tala of 12 beats, accompanied on the pakhawaj by Dal Chand Sharma.

Sensitive touch

It took a little time in the beginning for his veena to come to terms with the temperature of the air conditioned hall, to settle down to the kind of perfect tuning the ustad demands of it. But once it was minutely tuned, his very first sensitive touch with the deep, sonorous meend, caressing both the Nishads in the mandra saptak (lower octave), revealed the awe inspiring raga in front of the audience . The elaborate, full length treatment of the sovereign melody of rains, Miyan Malhar, soaked the audience totally, capturing the fleeting moods of the season through the myriad hues of the raga.

The next evening opened with a profound Dhrupad performance by Ustad R. Fahimuddin Dagar, who opened his concert with a detailed alapchari and two dhrupad compositions in raga Bhoop. He also sang a dhamar in raga Kedar accompanied on the pakhawaj by Dal Chand Sharma, before concluding his recital with a fast Sool tala composition invoking the Naad-Brahma.

Ustad Faiyaz Khan’s tabla solo showcased some of the rare peshkare, gaten, rele-palte and precious compositions of Dilli baaj, to which he belongs.

The Sangeet Vibhuti festival concluded with an impressive vocal recital of Pandit Vidyadhar Vyas, who presented the famous compositions “Kahe ho…” as bara khayal and “Jhuki aaie re badariya…” the popular chhota khayal of Gaud Malhar with great aplomb.

On request he obliged with a special raga of his Gwaliar tradition named Gunji Kauns with two compositions in Tilwada and Teen tala respectively.