Music

Bhilwara Sur Sangam festival features a range of classical music voices

Showing the way: Kaushiki Chakravorty

Showing the way: Kaushiki Chakravorty   | Photo Credit: R_Shivaji Rao

Some of the best known voices of Indian Classical music showcased their range at the Bhilwara Sur Sangam Festival

Kalapini Komkali has a ringing, robust voice and a carefully-cultivated singing style of her illustrious father. Starting with Bhimpalasi, she presented two compositions of her father and an old khayal in Punjabi, “dholan mende ghar aao”, possibly composed by Shah Sadarang and attributed it to his ruler, Mohammed Shah Rangile.

Kalapini’s singing style is one of quick progression, without lingering, and perhaps a judicious use of pauses would be welcome. But without doubt, this was one of her better concerts, she sang on her mettle Singing with passion, her next piece in Dhani (incidentally, a very old composition in Punjabi) which is very close to Bhimpalasi underlined her skill , as the “shakal” of Dhani is compact and can easily stray into unwanted territory.

The piece in Hameer, “Tu kaun kahan te aayi albeli naar”, which followed, was lyrical, composed by Pt Ram Ashrey Jha. The next drut teen taal khayal, “Ja re ja ranga rejawa re”, again in Hameer was composed by Pt Kumar Gandharva. Her own creativity came to the fore in her two Holis, in which in the first she unusually sang a lovely “auchar” preceding the percussion accompaniment. This was based on raga Tilak Kamod, and its unhurried presentation was a delight. The second Holi, racy in gait, was equally attractive. Her singing is enhanced by her evident feel for the lyrics she sings, an attribute acquired no doubt from her father. The evening ended with the recital of santoor maestro Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma.

Bhilwara Sur Sangam festival features a range of classical music voices

The next day started with Jaipur Attrauli exponent Raghunandan Panshikar. Born into an erudite family of scholars and musicians, Raghunandan has trained under the late Kishori Amonkar for 20 years. His beautifully practised baritone, measured singing in the authentic Jaipur Atrauli tradition with the slow meticulous use of notes, in raga Marwa was a real treat. Keeping his vilambit exposition to over half an hour, which for him was shorter than usual due to time constraint, Raghunandan then expertly used the time he had in singing two compositions in Marwa, displaying not only “Raagdaari” but also vocal virtuosity. His “taans” in the “drut ek taal” khayal (amended by himself from an older composition) had both “wazan” and “daana”, were in patterns using differing divisions in “laya”, and were breathtaking, reminding one of his great guru. The familiar Basant Bahar composition, “Maan re” was appropriate given the spring season (Basant and Bahar both are spring ragas). The concluding Mishra Des Meera bhajan, the “mukhra” of which again he amended, perhaps lacked “bhaav”.

It was a true pleasure to listen to the well-rounded singer, undoubtedly, one of the finest in his generation. The last concert sung by his guru was at the Bhilwara Festival in 2017, so no doubt singing there must have had poignant memories. There was a standing ovation.

All-female band

The festival concluded with the performance by Kaushiki Chakravorty and her classical music group “Sakhis”. Friends off-stage too, the all-female band is one of a kind and performs purely classical music only. Kaushiki sings, Nandini Shankar (younger granddaughter of the legendary Dr N Rajam) is on the violin, Debopriya plays the flute (she is a disciple of Pt Hari Prasad Chaurasia), Bhakti Deshpande dances kathak (disciple of Pt Birju Maharaj and Shaswati Sen), Savani Talwalkar is on the tabla and Mahima Upadhyay on pakhawaj. This time there was the addition of another “sakhi” – Anupama Bhagwat on sitar (disciple of Pt Bimalendu Mukherji of the Imdadkhani gharana).

The act has been structured with care; having some pieces showcasing only the instruments, only percussion, two with all of them together, some with the dance included, one only with Kaushiki singing. The Sakhis have received musical inputs from their gurus – Pt Ajoy Chakravorty composed one piece, Pt Birju Maharaj another, Pt Suresh Talwalkar a third. Technically, the difficulties of performing in unfamiliar pitches have been overcome seamlessly by the instrumentalists.

Anupama shared that she had to play the sitar tuned in “e-scale”, and then also had to use her “Ma” as the “Sa” in two pieces to play; a very difficult task as she had to adjust to different frets. Nandini too had to tune her violin to a different pitch. One felt the need for editing, as there was repetition. Maybe, it could be an hour’s performance only; however, it was received very well by the appreciative audience, who rose for a standing ovation.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 1:39:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/pitch-perfect/article26743572.ece

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