Melodies in memory

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Pandit Rajendra Prasanna
Pandit Rajendra Prasanna

George Harrison was remembered with a festival featuring classical and popular artistes.

To celebrate the 67th birth anniversary of George Harrison, whose friendship and collaboration with sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar is a popular chapter of musical history, the Ravi Shankar Centre presented a four-day festival of Indian classical music and dance. The aesthetically decorated open-air stage at the Ravi Shankar Centre in New Delhi's Chanakyapuri created the perfect ambience of spring with floral décor that filled the whole place with the fragrance of fresh flowers. The festival took a flying start with the mesmerising Madhuvanti and a Hori dhun by Rajendra Prasanna on shehnai.

The inaugural evening also featured Jazmin, a group of versatile musicians from California who fuse Blues, Soul, Jazz and Indian classical music elements to craft their own music. They became devout followers of Pandit Ravi Shankar after an informal jamming session with the sitar maestro in San Diego in 2004. The drummer of the band, Jesse Charnow, said, “Having played with many Jazz and Rock musicians, I was intrigued by Indian classical music. I would regularly discuss with Pandit ji the synthesis of ragas and talas towards Jazz music.” Another member, Leo Dombecki, said the band's name was also given by Panditji.


Along with Jesse the drummer and Leo who played the keyboards and the saxophone this evening, the other musicians of Jazmin were Seth Blumberg, Armando Cepeda, Bodhisattva Ghosh and Kenji Otta who performed and sang the famous numbers of George Harrison. Drenched in total tunefulness, their music mesmerised the audience when they sang the famous birthday song, and other numbers like “I want to tell you”.

Dedicating their performance to George Harrison, Seth said, “Brimming with wit, warmth and grace, George was a man with an open heart. We are all present here to honour him. We have chosen songs from his exclusive collection to entertain you. It is our pleasure to perform on this stage and we thank Guru Pandit Ravi Shankar from the bottom of our hearts for having us here.”

Panditji's presence in the audience, in fact, inspired all the artistes to give their best, whether it was the dignified sitar recital by Kushal Das who played a neat and melodious Shuddha Vasant accompanied by Tanmoy Bose on the tabla, or Sarathi Chatterjee with Paromita Mukharjee on the harmonium and Prasoon Chatterjee on the tabla singing a soulful Bageshri. It was definitely a festival with a difference.

Parimal Sadaphal gave a sitar recital and Sanjeev Shankar gave a shehnai recital on the concluding evening.

Pandit Ravi Shankar's profound statement came true for both the musicians and the audience when he said, “The magic in music happens only when the artiste serves it with love and joy and the listeners receive it with the same spirit.”




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