Gifts from the gurus

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IN TUNE Prateek Chaudhuri.
IN TUNE Prateek Chaudhuri.


Vocalist Sumitra Guha flowered, while Prateek Chaudhuri impressed.

The belief that the intimate atmosphere of a mehfil inspires performers to give their best was proved once again when Vidushi Sumitra Guha gave a vibrant vocal recital at the Attic the other day. An acclaimed exponent of the Kirana gharana known for its emphasis on melody, emotion and bhakti, Sumitra has performed extensively at home and abroad. She has sung for Radio Sangeet Sammelans and recorded for the archives of the Sangeet Natak Akademi. It is interesting to know that initially trained in Carnatic music under S.R. Janakiraman she was drawn to Hindustani music while she graduated in philosophy from Viswa Bharati University in Santiniketan. She started learning from Pandit A. Kanan and Vidushi Malobika Kanan and was further groomed under Pandit Sushil Kumar Bose in Hindustani classical music. The discerning listeners may enjoy the fragrance of her illustrious gurus in her singing.That Sumitra Guha is not only a versatile singer but also a gifted composer, was also proved beyond doubt when she opened the concert with her own composition in raga Shyam Kalyan, set to vilambit (slow) Ek tala. A melodious evening raga expressing shringar bhakti rasa (romantic devotional emotion), Shyam Kalyan was explored through the slow composition "Beet gayi shaam, Shyaam na aaye", where the composer had mentioned both the time of the raga (shaam/evening) and the rasa (shringar-bhakti) with reference to Shyama (the dark Krishna). If the viyog-shringar, the poignancy of separation, was expressed in the elaboration of the slow composition, the drut (fast) Ek tala bandish "Chhail chhabila saiyaan", again her own composition, dealt with the lively happy moments of samyog shringara. She also sang a madhya laya (medium tempo) composition set to addha theka, in between.Next came "Prabhuji more awagun chit na dharo", a devotional composition of Surdas before she concluded her concert with a Meera bhajan, both set to her own tunes. Murad Ali on the sarangi and Aniruddha Mukharji on the tabla gave her commendable support. Her own disciple was there to assist her on the harmonium. It was heartening to see a woman harmonium player along with two other female disciples on a pair of tanpuras.

Umak festival

UMAK (Ustad Mushtaque Ali Khan) Centre for Culture held its annual festival at Kamani auditorium this past week dedicated to the memory of the late Begum Kaneez Khatoon, wife of Ustad Mushtaque Ali Khan. The festival featured reputed artists from India and abroad including Prateek Chaudhuri (sitar), Chitresh Das (Kathak), Swapnamoy Banerji (sarod), Abhijit Banerji (tabla), Ramesh Mishra (sarangi), Theo Hill (Jazz piano), Channing Cook Holmes (Jazz drums and percussions) and the Emmy award winning Tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith.The festival opened with a sitar recital of Prateek Chaudhuri, the gifted son and disciple of Pandit Debu Chaudhuri. The selection of a raga like Shuddha Vasant itself spoke volumes about the young and talented artiste. "Ustad Mushtaque Ali Khan, my dada guru, used to play this unique raga on the occasion of the festival Vasant," Prateek told me with a feeling of pride for his illustrious gharana. He follows not only the tradition of playing the 17-fret sitar (instead of 20/21 frets used today), but also the string arrangement of his particular baaj. There could not have been a better tribute to his esteemed guru than the selection and masterly treatment of this rarely heard raga.The detailed alap jod jhala with the skilful handling of the raga, specially the pivotal Komal Rishabh, paved the path for the Masitkhani gat in slow Teen tala, a madhya laya gat (medium tempo composition) in a nine-beat cycle and a drut (fast) Teen tala gat that culminated in a super fast jhala. From the beginning, Prateek impressed with the rounded tonal quality of his deft strokes. His sense of rhythm and aesthetics pervade the clarity and melodiousness of his intricate technique. Sandip Das, the gifted disciple of Pandit Kishan Maharaj, was there to add further charm to Prateek's mesmerising sitar was a perfect understanding between the two that won them alternate rounds of applause.

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