The Hindu November Fest

Music beyond boundaries

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What began as a casual tete-a-tete gave birth to a soul-stirring collaboration

Sometime in August 2016, while on a tour of New Zealand, sitar artiste Purbayan Chatterjee and percussion legend Taufiq Qureshi casually chatted about a possible collaboration with Hindustani singer Kaushiki Chakraborty and flautist Rakesh Chaurasia. They were listening to a lot of music together on the tour and, according to Chatterjee, it was pure sankalpa (an intention formed by the heart and the mind) that later, coincidentally, has assumed the form of Classical and Beyond.

The Hindu November Fest opens its eighth edition in Bengaluru with Classical and Beyond, a jugalbandi melding voice, strings, wind & rhythm. Shashikant Vyas (of Pancham Nishad), son of late Padmabhushan Pandit C R Vyas, and, curator of Classical and Beyond, explains, “With our soul-stirring music we aspire to maintain a fine harmony between tradition and modernity that is in sync with the sensibilities of a global audience. Classical and Beyond will present a combination of pure classical music and a blend of classical music with other genres.”

On his choice of artistes, Vyas is delighted with the chemistry and calibre of the team. “Taufiq Querishi is a remarkably versatile percussionist. Rakesh leads the classical pieces with Kaushiki and Purbayan, and lends effective support in the fusion segments. Kaushiki, known for her winsome command over both classical and semi-classical repertoire renders beautiful solo pieces and enhances the fusion pieces through her powerful sargams. Purbayan, in addition to his solo classical renditions on the electric sitar performs fusion and group compositions. Satyajit Talwalkar (tabla) and Sudhanshu Gharpure (keyboard/harmonium) provide valuable support,” says Vyas.

Taufiq Qureshi, ace percussionist and acclaimed composer, and, son and disciple of the awe-inspiring tabla maestro Ustad Allarakha, welcomes musical experiments of all kinds. He keeps an open mind and doesn’t shy away from challenging concepts. “The heart of my performance is honest and intelligent and I always attempt to do my best at something new hoping that the audience will enjoy it. The concept of Classical and Beyond is really ultimately all about good music. It is for the audience to decide whether our performance is beyond or not!”

Purbayan Chatterjee feels privileged to perform with a group of artistes that he admires and adores. “Their traditional backgrounds are rock-solid and yet each of them has cut across generations by stepping seamlessly into other genres. Classical and Beyond is exactly such an exploration. It’s the kind of thing we’d do if we were to meet over a coffee or a jamming session. There would be classical elements, needless to say, but then we are all nat-khat, musically speaking, and would set out into unexplored territory. And the underlying comforting factor about these musicians is that you can hold their hands and jump off a cliff knowing that they would help you land safely.”

Rakesh Chaurasia, nephew of the extraordinary Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, feels that his generation of musicians is very easy to collaborate with. It is also easier to stay connected without missing a beat thanks to technology such as WhatsApp and Skype which create more channels for exchanging ideas continuously. He adds, “We share the same wavelength and we meet often, on and off-stage. For this concept, in particular, we have attempted something new in terms of the combinations of the forms to create a new kind of music that includes semi-classical, classical, Sufi and folk, almost to the a point where genres don’t exist. The chemistry between us is stimulating and the sensitivity towards accompaniment, specifically, is singular. We respond to our own and each other’s musicality. While the music is spontaneous on stage, the process of this collaboration involves creating and exploring a wide range of music thereby challenging and pushing boundaries.”

For Kaushiki Chakraborty, a prominent representative of the Patiala Gharana and daughter of the celebrated Hindustani vocalist Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty, this collaboration promises to be enjoyable and rewarding. “I truly respect their music. Collaborations are important opportunities for musicians to assess their musical response to unconventional sources of inspiration. I'm used to singing with traditional accompaniment such as the tabla, harmonium and sarangi most of the time. It'll be exciting to perform with instruments such as the sitar, flute and drums.”

Classical and Beyond will be presented on Friday, November 17, at Ambedkar Bhavan, Bengaluru.

Artistes: Taufiq Qureshi (Percussion), Kaushiki Chakraborty (Vocals), Purbayan Chatterjee (Sitar), Rakesh Chaurasia (Flute), Satyajit Talwalkar (Tabla), Sudhanshu Gharpure (Keyboard/Harmonium)

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 8:50:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/november-fest/music-beyond-boundaries/article20444293.ece

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