Music

A free-flowing musical dialogue at Ras Barse Utsav

Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt performing at the Ras Barse Utsav  

“The energy of the audience is absolutely amazing. Especially for a Hindustani classical event, such as this, in a city like Chennai,” said Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt with a smile. The enthusiasm of the students and parents of shehnai artistes S. Ballesh and son Krishna Ballesh’s Tansen Academy left him floored. It was his fourth trip to Chennai in a span of two months.

With the support of its 500 students spread across campuses in Chennai and Bangalore, the Academy presented the fourth edition of Ras Barse Utsav, a concert dedicated to Ballesh’s gurus and shehnai maestroes, Ustad Bismillah Khan and Pandit Sanna Bharamanna. The evening, which brought together Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, S. Ballesh and Krishna Ballesh and Pt. Yogesh Samsi, highlighted the Academy’s mission to popularise Hindustani music in Chennai.

Treat for the audience

After an introduction by Ballesh, accompanied by the Academy’s students, the evening gained vigour with the entrance of Bhatt, accompanied by Samsi on tabla, on stage. Mohan veena in hand, Bhatt had enough in store for the audience.

“Today’s presentation is a raga I’ve created myself. A combination of Madhuvanthi and Shivaranjani, I call it: Vishwaranjani,” he said. Composed five years ago in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya incident, Bhatt created the raga to reflect the various rasas or moods felt across the country. “A tribute to the women of our country,” he announced to rousing applause, launching into an elaboration layered with the complexity of tala. Handled deftly by Samsi, who called the performance unique, given the nature of the audience and the open appreciation they displayed. “This is the first time that I have got an opportunity to perform with Bhatt ji in Chennai, a place I consider most vibrant when it comes to music traditions,” he said.

That energy heightened as the Ballesh duo joined Bhatt and Samsi on stage, They began with Hamir Kalyani. Though not completely in sync, the artistic give-and-take that ensued showcased their respect for each other. In the taan phase, the tabla and dholki kept pace; often filling silences during periods of undue lull. It’s challenging to accompany in a complementary manner even while expressing one’s own creativity. The sound levels in this concert were some of the hardest I have had to work with as I needed to generate enough volume to match both instruments without overpowering the base line with a complex tihaai,” said Samsi.

The challenge of balancing was echoed by Bhatt in the swara section as Ballesh and he traded notes without stepping on each other’s toes, even as they came up with swaras specific to their instruments. The successful exchanges reflected their expertise in improvising and their training. “We had no rehearsal and relied solely on our creative responses to each other’s thoughts. Our experience helps us to make it happen,” said Bhatt.

As the evening drew to a close, the Narada Gana Sabha auditorium was still brimming with energy, indicative of Ballesh’s vision to create a dedicated audience for Hindustani music in Chennai.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 6:14:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/a-free-flowing-musical-dialogue-at-ras-barse-utsav/article25504958.ece

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