Bombay Showcase

Celebration of instrumental music

Ojas Adhiya has been trained by Mridangraj, an eminent exponent of Ajrada gharana.  

The haunting sound of the traditional sarangi will be followed by a dazzling display of Indian slide guitar. A breathtaking solo tabla performance will precede a magical sitar recital. Now in its seventh edition, the NCPA’s Saz-e-Bahar : Festival of Indian Instrumental Music promises to enthral discerning audiences. This evening, sarangi exponent Liyakat Ali Khan and slide guitarist Debashish Bhattacharya will perform. Tomorrow’s line-up has tabla player Ojas Adhiya and sitar player Ramprapanna Bhattacharya.

Suvarnalata Rao, head programming, Indian music, NCPA, says the festival was originally conceived as a dedicated two-day event to focus on instrumental music. She says, “There are many instrumental concerts. But at festivals, the tendency has been to mix vocal and instrumental music. Thus, we came up with this idea of having an entire two-day festival featuring two performers a day.”

Rich legacy

Rao says each year, the festival displays the evolution of India’s rich legacy in the arena of instrumental music across categories presented by a set of exceptional musicians “This year, we have the string-bowed instrument sarangi, the string-plucked sitar and the string-slide sitar, besides the popular percussion instrument tabla.”

The musicians have all made a mark in their fields. Liyakat Ali Khan is a well-known exponent of the Sikar style of sarangi, known for its robust vocal tone. He has been a staff artiste at All India Radio Mumbai, and has also worked for Hindi films.

Grammy nominee Debashish Bhattacharya has trained with stalwarts such as slide guitarist Brij Bhushan Kabra and vocalist Ajoy Chakrabarty. He has brought in innovative changes to the guitar and collaborated with several top-ranking Indian and western musicians.

Ojas Adhiya, who plays on the second day, has been trained by Mridangraj, an eminent exponent of Ajrada gharana . Besides being an accomplished solo player, Adhiya has regularly accompanied musicians such as vocalist Begum Parveen Sultana, santoor player Satish Vyas and mandolin exponent U Rajesh.

The festival will conclude with a performance by sitar player Ramprapanna Bhattacharya, who has been training with the Etawah-Imdadkhani gharana maestro Arvind Parikh. With a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication engineering, he simultaneously balances his corporate career with music.

Rao says the effort has been to use a mix of instruments. She says: “In the past, we have had north Indian instruments like the sarod and bansuri, and also Carnatic instruments like N Ravikiran’s chitravina. We had a duet between Saskia Rao de-Haas on cello and Shubendra Rao on sitar. We would like to have more jugalbandis in future.” This year, there is a good balance of different styles. Surely, the audiences are in for an instrumental treat.

Saz-e-Bahar at 6.30 pm at the Godrej Theatre, NCPA, today and April 2. See bookmyshow.com for details.

The author is a freelance music writer

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 6:06:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/entertainment/celebration-of-instrumental-music/article8420929.ece

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