A life in rhythm


The Legends of India in association with Pandit Shankar Ghosh Tabla Foundation, presented their annual Sangeet Mahotsava as the 1st Pandit Shankar Ghosh Memorial Concert at Kamani Auditorium this past week.

The evening opened with a short documentary film on Pandit Shankar Ghosh and his immense contribution to the field of classical music. The opening montage of “A Life in Rhythm” was striking, with a fascinating Jhap taal being played on tabla for the background score of the story narrating Ghosh’s musical journey, from childhood to the years he spent teaching tabla at the Ali Akbar College of Music in California, where his wife Sanjukta Ghosh taught vocal music.

Ghosh was not only a tabla exponent but also a great guru and a prolific composer. Two of his orchestral compositions were presented next by a percussion ensemble conducted by Sunil Bannerjee.

“Music of The Drums” was a unique orchestra conceived by Ghosh way back in the year 1975 in Kolkata. It made its mark when the Asiad Games (1982) concluded with its impressive performance. It was heartening to see that his students are keeping it up with full dedication. On this occasion, it opened with “Devotion”, his composition in raga Chandrakauns set to Chautaal of 12-beats-cycle. The remarkable thing about this percussion ensemble was that the lahera, the musical refrain, was played on jaltarang and tabla tarang instead of the usual harmonium or sarangi, because Ghosh believed that the tabla has its own music and it did not need extra support of any musical (melodic) instrument.

The second composition played by the ensemble was “Navami” based on a taal of nine-beats-cycle. Both the compositions were exquisite but the constant kansura (out of tune) Komal Gandhar of the jaltarang, marred the desired effect.

Bickram Ghosh, the gifted disciple and son of Shankar Ghosh, who has won the Grammy Award accompanying Pandit Ravi Shankar and has been nominated for it many times later, took the stage next and presented an impressive tabla solo set to an uncommon taal of nine-beats-cycle – Nasrukh divided into ‘khali’ and ‘bhari’ segments of four, half beats each. Introducing the taal, Bickram shared what his Guru used to say. “When musicians perform in different ragas why the tabla players should be confined to Teen taal only?” Thus Shankar Ghosh started the convention of playing different taals for his solo concerts. Keeping up the convention, Bickram chose this taal and started with an alaap like peshkar. He further proceeded to play the rare gems of his rich repertoire winning several rounds of applause. It was remarkable to watch Bickram squeeze in the 16-beats of the Teen taal composition of Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh in the given nine-beats of the taal he was playing, with utmost precision.

Ustad Rashid Khan took the stage long last and chose the timely raga Bihag for his long awaited vocal concert, but it was too late for many of his admirers. The unnecessary delay in starting the programme and the lengthy introductions of the important guests and their speeches had delayed the proceedings so much that the music lovers who had come for the vocal recital of Rashid Khan, went back disappointed.

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Printable version | Mar 3, 2021 2:48:50 PM |

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