Vidyadhar Vyas, who joined Sangeet Research Academy recently, inspires hope as both an administrator and an artiste.
Vyas’s high-pitched honeyed tone, typical of Maharashtra vocalists, was slightly nasal.
The ‘Wednesday Recitals’ at ITC Sangeet Research Academy (SRA) have a regular place in Kolkata’s cultural calendar. And the last week of September was special, as it featured Vidyadhar Vyas, who joined SRA barely a month back as its Executive Director. Vyas hails from a venerated musicians’ family, trained under his renowned father Pandit Narayan Rao Vyas, an erudite and internationally acclaimed musician who has won several awards and titles.
The idea behind these weekly events, organised at SRA’s own compact auditorium, is to expose the scholars of the academy to all the nitty-gritty of a musical presentation. Every Wednesday, barring a few exceptions, sees a scholar on the stage as a performer while his peers take the responsibility of introducing him to the audience and then encouraging him as his listeners. The recordings of these recitals get scrutinised by an Expert Committee later. The threadbare analysis helps them to improve upon their art.
Reserved for seniors
The last Wednesday of each month, however, remains reserved for senior musicians or gurus of the Academy. The Academy did not let go this opportune moment to anoint its new administrative head. Sarod maestro Buddhadev Dasgupta introduced the artiste. Flanked by renowned accompanists Ananda Gopal Bandopaadhyay and Jyoti Goho on the tabla and harmonium respectively, Vyas began with raga Shri. The reluctant unveiling of the raga lengthened the aochar (short introductory alap) and made it rather intriguing. The slightly different gait of slow Tilwada tala, as favoured by Gwalior style, facilitated vistar, behlawa, sargam and taans with interesting rhythmic movements. The faster Teen tala composition was decked up with a variety of taans. Vyas’s high-pitched honeyed tone, typical of Maharashtrian vocalists, was slightly nasal.
Nand, the second raga, was delineated as leisurely and gently. Vyas then poured out his soul in “E yaad mein kaise bhulaoon” set to Jhap tala. The emotive bol-banav combined with the phrasal sequences of the raga was very touching. He sang a well-known composition in drut Teen tala later.
To conclude, Vyas chose a bhajan in the ‘Paluskar parampara’, a style of rendering devotional songs developed by Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar and made immortal by his legendary son D.V. Paluskar. The rendition proved that Vyas is the true torchbearer of this style that draws its sap from the intrinsic emotions of the lyrics set to a well-matched raga and adheres to the mood created by that raga alone. The simple beauty of his “Kahan ke pathik” in raga Jhinjhoti cast a spell on the audience.
One recalls that under the stewardship of the founder director Vijay Kichlu, the SRA grew into a premier institution for classical music. His successor was almost unknown though he strove hard to prove himself as a musician and musicologist.
After a rocky interim, music lovers are pinning their hopes on Vyas, whose quiet dignity commands respect.