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ITC SRA News - October 2003 - September 2004


Report on the ITC SRA SEMINAR: August 23 & 24, 2004

Stylistic patterns of the Pathfinders of Hindustani Classical Music in the last century.
The last century had probably seen the greatest development of individual stylistic patterns of the vocal and instrumental gharanas in Hindustani classical music. There was an overwhelming abundance of incredibly innovative and successful musicians. Stylistic diversity was always an integral part of the music, chiefly because of diverse racial, ethnic and linguistic variations. Highly evolved master musicians dedicated their lives to the enhancement of not only their own performance levels, but also set very high norms of gharanedar gayaki (singing styles) for their disciples and admirers to follow.
A two-day seminar was organised at ITC SRA, on the 23rd & 24th of August’04, to observe and analyse the salient features that might have played significant roles in the various stages of the development of these brilliant individual styles.
In his introductory speech, Amit Mukerjee, Executive Director said that two days were undoubtedly insufficient to do justice to such a vast subject. However, an attempt was being made at drawing attention to the superhuman effort that went into the making of these fundamentally unique styles.
Following historical chronology and links between the intra-cohesive styles, the presenters focussed their study into the stylistic patterns of the following vocal and instrumental maestros: Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, Ustad Faiyaz Khan, Surshri Kesarbai Kerkar, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Pandit Dattatreya Vishnu Paluskar, Ustad Amir Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Ustad Vilayat Khan.
Mashkoor Ali Khan, Guru of the Academy commenced the inaugural session with a presentation on the undying music of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, pioneer of the Kirana gharana. Being the son of the renowned Sarangi player Shakoor Khan Sahib, a direct descendant of this gharana, Mashkoor Ali Khan could share many anecdotes heard from his father. While elaborating on the technical and aesthetic facets of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan’s gayaki, he interspersed it with several audio examples of the Ustad’s singing, including compositions in ragas Hindole, Mian-ki-Malhar, Jhinjhoti, and Bhairavi.
Ustad Faiyaz Khan of the Agra-Rangila gharana was the next stalwart, presented by eminent musicologist and member of the Expert Committee, ITC SRA, Kumar Prasad Mukherjee. Aptly titled Aftab-e-Mausiqi and also popularly called Mehfil ka Badshah, the phenomenal musicianship and artistry of Ustad Faiyaz Khan had an inherent completeness of all the aspects of Hindustani vocal classical music. This was evident in the recorded illustrations of compositions in ragas Lalit, Jaijaiwanti, Darbari and others that were played.

Sruti Sadolikar Katkar, Guru of the Academy, presented Surshri Kesarbai Kerkar, indisputably the greatest woman classical vocalist of all time. Kesarbai did her illustrious guru, Ustad Alladiya Khan, proud, through her singing of the subtlest nuances of the Jaipur tradition. Recordings of her renditions of compositions in ragas Sawani, Tilak kamod, Khamaj and Bhairavi, among others, gave an ideal and inspiring example of what proper talim could produce.

Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan’s singing was art at its exhilarating best. Buddhadev Dasgupta, Guru for the instrumental section, ITC SRA, took upon himself the responsibility of presenting this great maestro of the Patiala gharana. Explaining the dynamics of the Ustad’s magical vocalism while playing compositions in ragas Adana Bahar, Chhayanat, Bageshri, and others, Dasgupta showed how the balance of power, pathos, devotion and serenity were effortlessly maintained in his gayaki.
The second and final day’s first session saw Ulhas Kashalkar, Guru at the Academy, presenting Pandit Dattatreya Paluskar, the honey-toned vocalist of the Gwalior gharana. The recordings of bhajans as well as compositions in ragas Gaud Malhar, Jaunpuri and Shree were expressive of the ashtang or eightfold characteristics of Gwalior gayaki that this great vocalist had already mastered despite the fact that he died so young – at the age of 34.
The second session, conducted by Amit Mukerjee, Executive Director of ITC SRA presented Ustad Amir Khan. The Ustad’s sublime voice and his contemplative way of singing were an extension of the Kirana-Indore gayaki developed by Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan and Ustad Rajab Ali Khan. Using recordings of his Marwa, Malkauns, Bageshri Kanara, Suha and Bhatiyar, Mukerjee illustrated how intelligently the Ustad had incorporated some of the Carnatic styles, obtained from Ustad Aman Ali Khan of the Bhendibazar gharana, into his repertoire.
Turning to instrumental music, Pandit Ravi Shankar’s disciple Deepak Chaudhuri presented his guru’s music. Panditji, under the guidance of his Guru Ustad Allauddin Khan, first successfully achieved the assimilation of the Veen ang into Sitar. This was illustrated through his alapchari in raga Darbari. Gats in Khamaj and Kedar, the ageless Kirtan of Bengal as well as experimental pieces with maestros of the West, were also played. What came as a surprise was the singer Ravi Shankar, presenting one of his immortal compositions ‘Hey nath, hum par kripa kijiye’.
Buddhadev Dasgupta then presented the emperor of Sarod, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. A series of recordings of the Ustad’s father, Ustad Allauddin Khan, and the recordings of Darbari, Jhinjhoti and others were played. These amply demonstrated the sustenance of notes in alap, use of todas and gamaks in jod, use of chikaras and the in-built tanpura strings or thhat strings of his instrument to deliver a beautiful strumming, and all the other facets that mark the Ustad’s unique style of sarod playing.
Arvind Parikh concluded the two-day seminar with a power point presentation on his Guru Ustad Vilayat Khan, the Shahenshah of Sitar. Dealing at length on his great ancestry, audio excerpts of ragas Puriya, Saanjh Saravali, Khamaj, Rageshri, Kamod and others were played. The vocalist Vilayat Khan appeared in the Kaul ‘Man Kunto Maula’. Vilayatkhani Sitar baaj was how his inimitable style of playing could most perfectly be described.

The seminar on Pathfinders left an indelible impression on all those who participated, whether as presenters, announcers, reporters or even members of the audience. It was almost as if those wonderful days were being relived with the greatest musicians of all time performing yet again.

Wednesday Recital, August 25th 2004

The artiste for the Wednesday recital of 25th August was the ITC Sangeet Research academy Guru and Prefect Pandit Falguni Mitra. A vocalist of the Betiya Gharana, he teaches the scholars dhrupad and dhamar.

Gifted with a sonorous and tuneful voice, Falguniji has an amazing contorl over rhythm and takes special care to ensure that the words he uses in his layakari are meaningful. His attractive tihais and delightful way of ending the time-cycle make listening a pleasure.
Beginning his performance with alap in raga Jaijaiwanti, the artiste skilfully presented every aspect of the raga, elaborating in all three octaves. Intelligent use of gamaks in the jod added to the beauty of the raga presented. Singing ‘ …..’ set to chautala, the artiste ably demonstrated his mastery of rhythm, presenting a variety of variations including dugun, tigun, dedhgun, and others.
The next item was a sadra ‘Chahatram’composed by Suratsen, in raga Adana, set to Jhaptala. Bringing out the Vir rasa, the singer presented interesting upaj and layakari. The performance ended with a dhamar in raga Shankara. Excellent pakhawaj support was provided by Tapas Das.

Saturday Morning Recitals, August 28, 2004

The Saturday morning concert series has been introduced at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy in order to give the scholars some experience as organisers. The first recital in this series was held at 10.30 a.m. on 28th August 2004. A flurry of activity – of a sort that the scholars were so far unused to, ended in a morning well spent.
Ranjani Ramachandran, disciple of Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar was the first artiste that morning. Ranjani has been receiving talim from her Guru since August 2001, when she joined the Academy. She began with a vilambit teentala bandish ‘More ghar aayo’ and then sang the well-known bandish in drut teentala ‘ Bhavanda yaarada jobana’. She followed this up with the ever-popular teentala bandish in raga Gaud Sarang ‘Piyu palana lage mori’.
The next artiste that morning was Arshad Ali Khan, nephew of the Kirana Gharana Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan, from whom he has been learning at the Academy since 1991. He began with the vilambit jhoomra tala bandish in raga Bhupal Todi ‘ Jin jane piharava’, following it up with the drut teentala ‘Aisi humso karat bhulgayi’. Turning to raga Miyan-ki-Malhar, Arshad sang a drut teentala bandish ‘Aayi samajhat mori’, and ended with a tarana in that raga. Gopal Mishra ably accompanied both the artistes on the tabla while Rupashree Bhattacharya provided harmonium support.

Musical Wednesdays - September, 2004

September 1st was assigned for scholar Hrishikesh P. Gangurde’s recital. Learning under Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar, Hrishikesh began the evening with compositions in Raga Multani, vilambit jhumratala ‘Kavana des gayilava’, followed by the drut teentala ‘More mandirva mein’. He then presented compositions in Raga Chhayanat, vilambit jhumratala ‘Karata ho’,with drut teentala ‘Eri malaniya gund lavori’. Sandip Roy Chowdhury provided tabla accompaniment, while Jyoti Goho played the harmonium.
Sucheta Ganguly sang on September 8th. Presently a disciple of Pandit Arun Bhaduri, Sucheta had joined the Academy as a general class student in 2000. She began her performance with Raga Shuddha Kalyan. Her concluding Raga was Kedar. Supporting her were Tarak Saha on the tabla and Gourab Chatterjee on the harmonium. 22nd September was Sandeep Bhattacharya’s evening. Disciple of Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan, he began with Raga Multani, in which he presented two compositions. The first was in vilambit jhumratala, ‘Tanki tapat’, followed by drut teentala ‘Kangan mundariya mori re’. He ended his programme with the oft-heard teentala bandish in Raga Kedar ‘Kanha re’. Chandrabhan accompanied him on the tabla while Rupashreee Bhattacharya was at the harmonium.
On September 29th, Sitariya Vinayak Sumant Chittar of the Imdadkhani Gharana visited the Academy. His playing incorporates the basics of the Maihar style as he was initially trained by Pandit P.G. Parab, the seniormost student of Pandit Ravi Shankar, and on his demise, was accepted as a disciple by Pandit Arvind Parikh, seniormost disciple of late Ustad Vilayat Khan. Shri Chittar began his recital with alap, jod, jhala followed by gats in teentala madhyalaya and drut teentala in Raga Marwa. This was followed by a scholarly alap in Raga Jhinjhoti and gats in rupak tala in tisra jati and teentala. He concluded with a composition in Raga Desh set to teentala madhyalaya, which was very typical of the Vilayatkhani style.

Gurus at the Academy

Former ITC SRA guru, Girija Devi of the Banaras Gharana has rejoined the Academy from November 1, 2003 after a short stint as Visiting Professor at Banaras Hindu University.
Shruti Sadolikar, an exponent of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana has joined the Academy as a visiting guru from November 18, 2003.

Ford Foundation Gharana Project

Under the Ford Foundation Gharana project, the famous Dhrupad singers, the Gundecha Brothers of Bhopal and Ustad Aslam Khan Niyazi of Mumbai were invited to record compositions (bandishes) of their respective gharanas. While the Gundecha Brothers recorded twenty-two bandishes, Ustad Aslam Khan recorded as many as one hundred and seventy one compositions in the khayal style.

Rhythm Workshop (June 2004)

Rhythm cycles (taal), tempo (laya) and metre (chhanda) have always been an integral part of Indian classical music and in recent years the tabla has gained popularity amongst the young and old. Renowned tabla exponent Shankar Ghosh conducted a two-day workshop at ITC Sangeet Research Academy on June 4th and 8th. Concentrating on variations in rhythm, he demonstrated aar (3/2 matras), kuaar (5/4 matras) and biaar (7/4 matras) and ensured that the students practice these variations using the seven notes.
He also discussed numerous tihaais including lapetang, bedam and damdaar While aiming to explain the mathematics behind taal, he said that in order to gain confidence, students needed to appreciate the importance of the anumatras or microbeats of any taal. Reiterating the importance of understanding taal, he explained a simple formula by which tihaais could be easily calculated.
Those who attended the workshop will undoubtedly be better equipped at introducing rhythmic variations into their singing styles.

SRA Music Circle Presentation (June 2004)

SRA Music Circle members were invited to an evening of pleasurable listening on Sunday 27th June 2004. The programme began with a vocal music recital by Ruchira Kale, a disciple of Pt Ulhas Kashalkar. She began with a vilambit teentala kheyal in raga Shuddh Kalyan ‘Eri maai piya’, which she ably developed. Moving on to drut teentaal, she sang a bandish composed by the late Pt. Nivrutti Bua Sarnaik, ‘Neend na aavat’. Ruchira sang in the Gwalior gharana style and the clarity and variations in her taans reminded listeners of her illustrious guru. Gopal Mishra and Rupashree Bhattacharya accompanied her on the tabla and harmonium respectively.
This was followed by a sitar recital by Debaprasad Chakraborty. A student of the late Shri Ajoy Sinha Roy, Debaprasad belongs to the famed Senia Maihar Gharana. Playing raga Mian ki Malhar, he amply demonstrated his sensitivity while unfolding the komal gandhar and the two nishads of the raga in his alap, jod and jhala. His virtuosity reached greater heights during his vilambit gat in dhamar taal, in which he flawlessly executed several tihaais. He then played a drut gat in teentala. Samar Saha gave him excellent tabla support.
The concluding item that evening was a vocal recital by Amit Mukerjee, Executive Director, ITC SRA, who trained under Shankar Majumdar, disciple of the late Ustad Amir Khan. Singing raga Megh, he began with a vilambit kheyal in jhoomra taal and went on to present a tarana in teentaal composed by the late Ustad Amir Khan. The resonance in his voice and the knowledgeable development of the raga were a treat for the listeners. He concluded his recital with a teentaal bandish in raga Gaud Malhar ‘Aayi badra kari kari’. Ananda Gopal Bandopadhyay provided tabla support while Jyoti Goho played the harmonium.

February 2004 : ITC-SRA unfolds global vision for propagating Indian classical music abroad

The ITC Sangeet Research Academy (ITC-SRA is now, during its Silver Jubilee celebrations, beginning to transform itself into a global institution propagating the riches of Indian Classical Music.
The Executive Director of ITC-SRA, Mr Amit Mukerjee, has announced ITC-SRA’s plans to introduce vocal Hindustani Classical Music to Western cultural institutes. The West has historically been much more familiar with instrumental music. Perhaps as a result of that familiarity, today Western audiences are extremely keen to listen to, and discerningly appreciate Indian Classical Music.
To quench this deep Western thirst for Indian Classical Music, ITC-SRA is planning to take its Gurus to conduct workshops and seminars, and hold lecture-demonstrations in the top musical institutions in Europe. The ITC Sangeet Research Academy will also facilitate cross-cultural exchange programmes with these institutes, between scholars of Western music and scholars of Indian Classical Music.
The Academy has already organised seminars and workshops on Indian Classical Music in Tubingen University, a renowned centre of Indology and musicology, Stuttgart University and Rotterdam Conservatory, among others.
As a part of ITC-SRA’s mission to go beyond vocal Hindustani Classical Music, the Academy introduced training in Sarode and Sitar two years ago. This has already started yielding very rewarding results. The Academy has now also formulated plans to revive the dying art of playing the ‘Sarangi’. There are very few ‘Sarangi’ exponents today. The Academy will identify young ‘Sarangi’ aspirants and teach them the fine art.
ITC-SRA is also keen to expose its students and scholars to modern technology. The technical and the musical quality of a recital improve dramatically if musicians are well versed with the intricacies of modern sound engineering technology. The Academy’s students are being exposed to the software of sound engineering through hours of hands-on exposure to ITC-SRA’s in-house digital recording facilities.
ITC-SRA also plans to sharpen its focus on research into the rich traditions of Indian Classical Music. ITC and ITC-SRA have also undertaken a major project to fully digitise and carefully preserve the precious recordings of Hindustani Classical Music recitals housed in ITC-SRA's archives. The aim is to enable musicians, musicologists, scholars and connoisseurs of Indian Classical Music around the world readily access India’s musical heritage.
In 1990, under a grant from the Ford Foundation, USA, ITC-SRA bagged a prestigious assignment to collect and collate musical data from the living and learned musicians of different gharanas. The successful completion of this project has created, in ITC-SRA, a priceless repertoire of documented knowledge on Hindustani Classical Music. There are detailed interviews with 41 great musicians belonging to different gharanas. More than 5000 musical compositions have been put down in black and white. There are also nearly 1000 hours of precious musical recordings. The Academy has now taken up the second phase of the project, which entails editing and notating these compositions.
As a part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations, ITC-SRA plans to hold ITC Mini Sangeet Sammelans in Lucknow, Kanpur, Jodhpur, Dombivilli and Karad. ITC Mini Sangeet Sammelans have already been held in Raipur, Digboi and Agartala. A special Holi Sammelan is also being organised in Kolkata. Two more major ITC Sangeet Sammelans, to be held in Mumbai and Hyderabad, are also on the cards, to celebrate ITC-SRA’s 25th anniversary.

WEDNESDAY RECITAL NEWS (18TH AUGUST, 2004)

The evening of 18th August saw an auditorium packed to capacity at the ITC-SRA during this week’s Wednesday Recital. The artist, Shounak Chatterjee is a general student of the Academy and a disciple of Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan, a very highly respected musician of the Kirana Gharana and a guru at ITC SRA. Shounak also receives guidance from Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan.

Shounak began his recital with an elaborate rendition of Raga Yaman, in which he presented two compositions. The first of them, ‘Sajani Nisa Jaat’ was set to vilambit Ektal. The second, ‘Tu Jag Mein Sharam Rakh Meri’, was set to drut Teental.
This was followed by a leisurely rendition of Raga Megh. The first composition, ‘Garaje Ghata Ghan’ was set to slow Jhaptal. He picked up pace with the concluding drut composition in the same Raga, ‘Badariya Barasana Laagi’ set to Teental.
Gopal Mishra provided Tabla accompaniment while Jyoti Goho provided the Harmonium accompaniment. Sandip Bhattacharjee and Shirshendu Mukherjee, both scholars of the academy, accompanied Shounak on the Tanpura.

Saturday Morning Recitals, September, 2004

The scholars organised another recital on Saturday 11th September. This time Pompa Banerjee, disciple of Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan sang Raga Bairagi. Beginning with the vilambit teentala ‘Naina virog bhaye’, she followed it up with the drut teentala ‘Dhun dhun bhag’. Sandip Roy Chaudhury accompanied her on the tabla while Jyoti Goho provided harmonium support.
The next artiste was Sandip Bhattacharya, disciple of Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan, who sang Raga Miyan ki Todi. Singing in vilambit jhumratala ‘Joshi tum dekho patara’, he concluded with the drut teentala ‘Ab mori naiya paar karo’. On the tabla was Gopal Mishra while Jyoti Guha played the harmonium.

The last Saturday recital in September was on the 25th. Ruchira Kale, disciple of Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar, began with the vilambit khayal in Raga todi, set to jhoomra tala ‘Bajore Mohammed Shah’. She then sang a drut khayal in teentala ‘Badhava bun pyara’. She concluded her performance with a dadra ‘Divana ki yeh shyam kya jadu dara’. Accompanying her were Sandip Bhattacharya on the harmonium and Gopal Mishra on the tabla.
Shirshendu Mukherjee, disciple of Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, took over with a vilambit khayal in Raga Natbhairav set to ektala ‘Pinak dhar Shankar’, followed by ‘Ratan jade motiyan se’, in drut teentala. He chose the ever-popular thumri in Raga Bhairavi ‘Bajuband khula khula jay’ to conclude his performance.

Musical Wednesdays - July & August, 2004

On July 7th, a sarod recital brought Irfan Mohammed Khan to the Academy. While introducing the artiste, Pandit Buddhadev Dasgupta explained that about 275 – 300 years ago, three Afghan rebabiyas had come to India. They stayed on and converted the afghan rebab to the sarod. One of them was Nazaf Ali, who had a son named Khaleef Khan, whose son Inayet Ali had a son named Safayat Ali. His son, Prof. Sakhawat Hussain Khan of the Marris College at Lucknow, was the father of Md. Umar Khan who had been a member of ITC-SRA’s Experts’ Committee. Sarodiya Irfan Mohammed Khan was his son. Accompanied by Aslam Khan on the tabla, the artiste presented a well-developed alap, jod, gat and jhala in Raga Bihag. This was followed by two gats in Mishra Gara. On request, he ended his recital with a gat in Raga Sorat.
July 14th brought the spotlight on ITC-SRA scholar Sumana Gupta, who was earlier learning from Smt. Shubhra Guha and is now being trained by Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty. Beginning her presentation with an ektala bandish in Raga Shyam Kalyan ‘Savan ki Sanjh’, she went on to present the teentala ‘Chhavi Shyam ki’. She ended her recital with a dadra in Raga Pahadi ‘Ab to aayo saajna’. Swapan Mukherjee accompanied her on the tabla while Rupashree Bhattacharya provided harmonium support.
July 21st was ITC-SRA scholar Gourab Chatterjee’s evening. Initially a general class student under Jainul Abedin and then Pt. Sunil Bose, he is now learning from Pandit Arun Bhaduri. Accompanied by Sandip Roy Chowdhury on the tabla and Rupashree Bhattacharya on the harmonium, Gaurab began with kheyals in Raga Maru Bihag ‘Ratiyan hamaar’, followed by ‘Tarapata rain dina’. He then moved to Raga Megh, singing the well known bandish in jhaptala, ‘Garaja ghata ghana’, after which he sang the ektala ‘Chhayi ghata ghana ghor’. His last piece was a bhajan by Meera, ‘Savra mhari preet nibhajoji’.

On July 28th, Visiting Guru Shrimati Shruti Sadolikar-Katkar presented a vocal recital. While introducing her, ITC-SRA Executive Director Amit Mukerjee explained that she is the daughter of Pandit Waman Rao Sadolikar, who had been a disciple of the doyen of the Jaipur gharana,Ustad Alladiya Khan and then Ustad Bhurji Khan. Also trained by Pandit Gulu Jasdanwala, Shrutiji now learns from Azizuddin Khansaab, son of Bhurji Khansaab. She presented a kheyal in ektala ‘Aaj bateki’ and then the teentala ‘Sugana vichaar’ in Raga Jaitashree. On request, she sang the jhaptala composition ‘Devadev mahadev’ in Raga Savani, which was followed by her own composition in Raga Gaud Malhar, ektala ‘Chalata pavan’. A bandish in rupak tala, Raga Bihari, came next. The audience went home with the ever-popular thumri in Raga Khamaj ‘Abke savana ghar aaja’ ringing in their ears.
August 4th brought general class student Manali Bose to the forefront. Training under Pandit Arun Bhaduri, she began her recital with the vilambit ektala bandish ‘Piya gunavanta’, followed by the drut ektala ‘Bhai shyam nahi aaye’. Turning to Raga Desh, she sang in teentala madhyalaya ‘Jhuma barase badariya sawan ki’ and then in drut ektala ‘Meherwa barse’. She concluded with a bhajan by Tulsidas ‘Shri Ramchandra kripalu bhajamana’.

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