This year we celebrate the centenary birth anniversary of another legend — Ustad Bismillah Khan. The image of his eyes crinkled and that gentle smile are imprinted in the minds of music lovers. The ustad became synonymous with shehnai. From the banks of the Ganges to auditoria across the world, he elevated the simple shehnai to a classical instrument. He brought out the nuances of ragas through his gentle blowing. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 2001.
The Chennai-based Tansen Academy of Music is organising a festival, Ras Barse Utsav, to celebrate the ustad’s unique artistry. To be held on November 12 (6 p.m.) at The Music Academy, it will also pay tribute to shehnai exponent Pandit Sanna Bharamanna.
The event will begin with a prayer song by the students of the Tansen Academy of Music. On the occasion, the academy’s website (www.tansenacademy.com) will also be launched. At this special event, the Ustad Bismillah Khan and Pandit Sanna Bharamanna Smarak Rashtriya Puraskar will be awarded to Pandit Rajshekhar Mansur (Dharwad). The recipients of the Gaurav Puraskar include Pandit Basavaraj Bajantri (clarionet, Bagalkote), Champa Kalkura (vocal, Tiruchi), V.S. Narasimhan (violin), M.N. Munesh (tabla) and Y. Gee Mahendra (percussion). The Yuva Kala Puraskar will be given to Jayadevi Jangamashetti (vocal, Dharwad) and Rajas Upadhye (violin, Pune).
This will be followed by a shehnai-violin jugalbandi recital by Pandit S. Ballesh (shehnai), Pandit Atulkumar Upadhye (violin), Ustad Nazim Hussain (son of Ustad Bismillah Khan) on tabla, Krishna Ballesh (shehnai), Suresh Raj (dukkad), Prakash Ballesh (harmonium) and R.K. Ravikumar (swarmandal & party).
The event will end with a Hindustani vocal recital by Pandit Shrinivas Joshi from Pune, son of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. He will be accompanied by Krishna Ballesh (vocal support), Dr. Ravindra Katoti (harmonium) and Suresh Raj (tabla).
Justice T. Mathivannan and Harikesanallur Venkataraman will be the guests of honour.