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Pandit Kumar Bose

The ITC Sangeet Sammelan

Pandit Kumar Bose is one of the best known Indian percussionists today. Born into a family of musicians, he was initiated into the art of tabla by his father Pandit Biswanath Bose, an eminent disciple of Pandit Kanthe Maharaj. After his father's demise, Kumar has been under the tutelage of Pandit Kishen Maharaj, the living legend of the Benaras gharana. With numerous achievements under his belt, Kumar is adept both as a soloist as well as an accompanist, and has performed with most of the great artistes of today. Besides Indian classical music, Kumar Bose has also made successful forays into world music and has even performed in symphony orchestras conducted by the likes of Zubin Mehta and Yehudi Menuhin.

By popular demand, we bring to you a re-run of Pandi Kumar Bose

Kishen Maharaj

The ITC Sangeet Sammelan - Delhi, 2007

In a career spanning more than fifty years, the late Pandit Kishen Maharaj needs no introduction. One of the finest tabla players of our time, he dominated the world of Indian classical percussion as a true representative of the Banaras Gharana. He was born on in 1923 in Banaras and his father Pandit Hari Maharaj was his first teacher. After his father’s untimely death, his training was taken over by his uncle, Pandit Kanthe Maharaj.

Kishan Maharaj's career began at the tender age of eleven years. His immense versatility in accompaniment, whether with instrumental music, different genres of vocal music or dance has been acknowledged the world over. His ability to play cross rhythms and produce complex calculations, particularly in tihai patterns, had made him one of the most respected and popular tabla players of our time.

His abilities had been recognized time and again and he was heaped with honours. In 1969 he received the title of Sangeet Samrat from the Prayag Sangit Samiti. In 1972 the Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi honoured him. The Padmashri came his way in 1973, while in 1984 he received the Sangeet Natak Akademi award. The Hafiz Ali Khan Award came his way in 1986. In 2002, the President of India awarded him the Padma Vibhushan while in that year he was also the recipient of the second Ustad Inayat Khan Memorial award for his contribution to Indian classical music. Pandit Kishan Maharaj passed away a little before midnight on 4th May, 2008, leaving a great void in the world of music.

These are excerpts from his last performance with us, at the ITC Sangeet Sammelan, held at Delhi in February, 2007.

Rashid Khan

The ITC Sangeet Sammelan - Silver Jubilee Celebrations

The grand three-day ITC Sangeet Sammelan held in November 2003 at Kolkata, celebrated 25 years of the ITC Sangeet Research Academy. In keeping with the sense of accomplishment that this Silver Jubilee Sammelan signified, a whole galaxy of stars were invited to perform at this creatively charged setting. The second day of this concert, witnessed the magical Rashid Khan casting a musical spell on his audience, reinforcing the keen sense of excitement and anticipation.

The immensely gifted Rashid Khan is one of the leading torch bearers of Hindustani classical vocal music. The sheer magic of his voice is known to jolt first time listeners into musical awareness! Though the young Rashid initially showed little or no interest in music, his tutelage under his illustrious grand uncle, Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan, changed the course of his life and made Rashid what he is today.

After his Ganda Bandhan ceremony when he was six years old, the pursuit of music and musical training became the way of his life. Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan, one the greatest maestros of the Rampur Sahaswan Gharana, intuitively perceived the latent potential of his grandson. The maestro decided to nurture Rashid’s musical sensitivity by imparting musical education to him in the traditional Guru Shishya Parampara– first in his home and thereafter at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy, where he stayed for 21 years.

Rashid went on to become a Top Grade artiste for All India Radio and won accolades for all the aspects of his musical performance – voice, phrasing, virtuosity and sensitivity. Though a loyal and proud member of the Rampur Sahaswan Gharana, Rashid has always been prepared to learn and incorporate the best from other gharanas into his renditions. Many feel that it is this receptive attitude to music which lends a personal touch to his renditions of various ragas with just the right kind of improvisation. Above all, Rashid has, in abundant measure, that rare quality called Taseer – the indescribable ability to create a genuine impact on listeners.

Lovers and connoisseurs of music who had thronged the ITC-SRA lawns in great numbers, predictably surrendered to Rashid's irresistible spell.

By popular demand, we bring to you the re-run of Rashid's performance of raga 'Bihag', with which he started off his performance. Supporting him on the tabla was Ananda Gopal Bandyopadhyay while Jyoti Goho accompanied him on the harmonium.

Padmavati Shaligram

The 13th ITC Sangeet Sammelan (November 11-13, 2005) - Kolkata

Born in 1918 in Kolhapur, Padmavati Shaligram is one of the senior most vocalists of Hindustani music. She was groomed in the Jaipur – Atrauli tradition by her father and uncle who were students of the legendary Alladiya Khan, the founder of the gharana. She has been performing in public since she was thirteen and climbed to the height of success and glory very early in life. She has been a top ranked performer with the All India Radio, besides featuring in numerous concerts in both the northern and southern states of the country.

At its 13th Sangeet Sammelan (November 11-13, 2005) ITC SRA rediscovered Padmavati Shaligram for the Kolkata audience after decades, on the platinum jubilee year of her singing career. The sprightly Padmavati came, saw and conquered with her stupendous taans. This apparently frail and petite 86-year-old lady had to be helped on to stage. But all fears for her frailty vanished within the first 2 crystal clear notes that she sang. Her simple and direct approach had an old-world charm.Yet it was scintillating and full of vitality.

Endless taan patterns at an electrifying speed used to be her forte in her prime. The mesmerized Kolkata listeners witnessed that the same was just as true now. She sang with passion and a rare rustic appeal and left the stage to a standing ovation.

Ajoy Chakraborty and Birju Maharaj

Pandit Birju Maharaj and Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty

Born into a family of hereditary dancers, the extraordinary genius of Pandit Birju Maharaj needs no introduction. This great Kathak exponent is the son and disciple of the famous Pandit Achhan Maharaj and is the torchbearer of the Kalka-Bindadin gharana of Lucknow. Besides being a superb dancer he has a wonderful voice, having remarkable command over thumri, dadra, bhajan etc. and is also a commendable percussionist. Having successfully trained a number of students in India and abroad he is also known for his experimental dance dramas and choreography all over the world.

Pandit Ajoy ChakrabartyHindustan classical vocalist and resident guru at the ITC SRA, Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty too is a household name amongst lovers of this genre. A history of sorts was created when both he and the kathak maestro came together in a rare duet providing the grand finale to the ITC Sangeet Sammelan held at Kolkata in November 2002.

In spite of his sixty plus years, Maharajji showed rare flexibility and finesse and held the overflowing crowds in complete sway. He presented some brain teasing tihais, gintis and compositions, where the young tabla player from Mumbai, Yogesh Samsi showed remarkable skill. The next part had Maharajji singing thumris to which Saswati Sen, his best known disciple, danced with exuberance and grace. The third part had Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty rendering a thumri in Pilu, followed by the well-known dadra “Tirichi Nazariya Ke Baad”. This prompted Saswati to break into a spontaneous dance, much to the delight of both Ajoy and the audience. The last part of the event had both Ajoy and Maharaji occupying centre stage. Together, they kept the audience spellbound, rendering bandishes and thumris in unison punctuated with Maharajji’s superb, awe-inspiring abhinaya. Among the compositions presented were “Bada Jodi Nahi Re” and “Badi Der Hui, Ghar Jaane De”. Roshan Ali on the sarangi, Debashish Sarkar on the harmonium and vocals and Chandrachud Bhattacharya on the sitar provided the accompaniment at this much awaited program.

Here is a short clip from the programme.

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