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ITC SRA News - December 2009 - November 2010


Lecture Demonstration by Smt. Suhashini Koratkar, August 2010

A specialist of the Bhendi Bazar Gharana, Suhashini ji visited ITC SRA along with a team from Pune University. On August 11, 2010, she presented a lecture demonstration on the specialties of the Gharana to our students. A renowned vocalist, Suhashini ji had received her training from Pandit T D Janorikar who was a Guru at SRA for a brief period. In her working career, Suhashiniji served in All India Radio in the capacity of Programme Director and Station Director in various locations. She started her lecture by introducing the history of this Gharana. The three pioneers Ustad Chhajju Khan, Ustad Nazir Hussain Khan and Ustad Khadim Hussain Khan were from Bijnaur in Moradabad Dist in Uttar Pradesh. Their initial talim was from their father, Dilawar Hussain Khan after which they sought further training from the Rampur Sahaswan Gharana and finally Dhrupad from Ustad Enayat Khan of Dagar Gharana. Around 1860-65 A.D. this trio came to Bombay and settled down behind the fort area which was the Behind the Bazaar area, which came to be more popularly referred to in its corrupted form, the Bhendi Bazar area. Here the Ustads started teaching locals a new style of music that was greatly appreciated by all. With time, this style finally evolved into a Gharana. She went on to talk of the specialities of this gharana, in particular, the long meend in the Alaap and usage of the Khandmer or Merukhand system. Khandmer means to establish the basic notes or the meru of a raga first and then use various permutations and combinations to show the structure in repeated ways. The akar sung in an open voice, the prevalence of merukhand and a clear articulation and intonation are the characteristic features of this gharana. The voice modulation in the alaap is also a common practice. While uttering one note, the help of the adjoining note is sought commonly. The alaap is mainly done in madhya laya with usage of long pauses or silence as part of the structure. Suhashini ji then demonstrated an Alaap pattern of this Gharana with the bandish “Damaroo baje…” in raga Gunkali. The introduction of Carnatic ragas came after Ustad Chhajju Khan’s son, Ustad Aman Ali Khan learned Carnatic Music under Pandit Krishnappa Bidaram, court musician of Mysore state. Ustad Aman Ali who composed under the pseudonym ‘Amar', added many new bandishes to the parampara. Notable among his disciples was Ustad Amir Khan who incorporated this style in his own singing style eventually. Suhashini ji concluded her lecture demonstration with two bandishes “Jai Mata guna deyo..” in madhya ektaal and finally “Lagi lagan sakhi…” in dhrut teental in Raga Hamsadhwani.

Guru Purnima - 24.07.2010 - Malhar Ki Prakar

Hindu tradition attaches paramount importance to spiritual gurus. Gurus are oftenequated with God and always regarded as a link between the individual and the Immortal. Just as the moon shines by reflecting the light of the sun, and glorifies it, all disciples can dazzle like the moon by gaining from their Gurus. Swami Sivananda Saraswati spoke of the sacred significance and the supreme importance of the Guru's role in the evolution of man. “It is therefore not without reason that India, year after year, age after age, commemorates anew this ancient concept of the Guru, adores it and pays homage to it again and again, and thereby re-affirms its belief and allegiance to it. For, the true Indian knows that the Guru is the only guarantee for the individual to transcend the bondage of sorrow and death, and experience the Consciousness of the Reality.“ The full moon day in the Hindu month of Ashad (July-August) is observed as the auspicious day of Guru Purnima, a day sacred to the memory of the great sage Vyasa, regarded as the scribe of the Vedas. It is also known as Vyasa Purnima. On this day, all student aspirants and spiritual devotees worship Vyasa in honor of his divine personage and all disciples pay their respects to their respective spiritual preceptor or 'Gurudev'. Traditionally, students and spiritual seekers vow to intensify their spiritual 'sadhana' from this day. We too, at Sangeet Research Academy, celebrate this day and venerate our gurus.This year, on the eve of the auspicious day, students gave precise yet dazzling performances as their gift to their respective gurus. The theme was beautifully planned by one of our most senior gurus and the prima donna of the Banaras gharana, Vidushi Giraja Devi [fondly called Appaji by one and all at the Academy). The season being rainy, she chose Malhars to be the theme for all the performers. Scholars performed mostly in duets and a group presentation was the grand finale. Abhijeet Apastambh & Deborshee Bhattacharya, students of Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, provided a scintillating vocal performance in Raga Mian Ki Malhar, with Sandeep Ghosh on the Tabla and Rupashree Bhattacharya on the Harmonium. This was followed by awonderful Violin and Sitar Duet in Raga Megh by two more of Pandit Chakrabarty’s students,Saket Sahu & Joyeeta Sanyal. They were accompanied on the Tabla by Indranil Bhaduri. Two senior scholars of the Academy, Manali Bose & Sucheta Ganguly, [students of Pandit Arun Bhaduri and Vidushi Girija Devi ] presented Raga Sur Malhar with Sanjay Adhikary on the Tabla and Rupashree on the Harmonium. Nivedita Ghosh and Saurav Ganguly, [students of Pandit Manilal Nag] then presented Raga Desh in yet another Sitar and Sarod Duet with Bilal Khan on the Tabla. Sameehan Kashalkar and Alick Sengupta, [students Of Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar] sang Raga Gaud Malhar in a vocal duet with Sanjay Adhikary on the Tabla and Sarwar Hussain on the Sarangi. Abir Hossain & Sandeep Bhattacharya, [students of Pandit Buddhadev Dasgupta and Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan] provided a fabulous recital in Raga Jayant Malhar in an unusual Sarod & Vocal Duet with Prangopal Banerjee on the Tabla. This was followed by a Sitar & Sarod duet by Supratik Sengupta & Dwaipayan Roy [students Of Pandit Budhhadev Dasgupta]. They presented the wonderful raga Surdasi Malhar with Bilal Khan on the Tabla. As the grand Finale Kasturi Banerjee, Sucheta Ganguly & Soumi presented Thumri,Dadra & Kajri with Sanjay Adhikary on Tabla and Rupashree on Harmonium.

Celebrating Holi at ITC – Sangeet Research Academy 2010

On this festive and colorful occasion, the Gurus and scholars of the ITC – Sangeet Research Academy celebrated Holi with a 3 hour long session of live music. It took place at the academy’s auditorium, and was a grand occasion as everyone thoroughly enjoyed the performances and ended the session dancing away. The event began at 11 in the morning with Vidushi Girija Devi, who was also the one to organize the whole event. Girija jee began with singing a hori dhun in raga pilu. After her performance, Sucheta Ganguly, Manali Bose and Sohini Bhattacharya sang a holi song in raga des. Following their performance was that of three of the instrumental scholars; Dwaipayan Roy, Mallar Rakshit and Abhir Hossain, who performed a short rendition of raga Kafi. It definitely brought some balance to the mood as it was mellow, yet pleasantly soothing. The next performance was also an instrumental one, given by the scholars Joyeeta Sanyal, Saurav Ganguly, and Rakae Jamil, a visiting scholar. They performed a gat in madhlaya jhaptaal and a gat in drut teentaal. The celebrations continued with five vocal scholars, Aditya Sharma, Adarsh Saxena, Sandeep Bhattacharya, Sameehan Kashalkar and Shankoo beautifully rendering a holi thumri in chanchal taal. Following them were another group of female scholars singing a geet, and to wrap up the even, Pt. Arun Bhaduri sang a few light and cheerful compositions in holi geet. The conclusion, however, was the climax of the celebrations as everyone in the recital room, included all the Gurus, the administrations and the scholars danced while singing a ‘holi khelay rang veera’. It was a truly a magical moment at ITC- Sangeet Research Academy, and probably the only place which managed to create a blend of serious music and playful celebration on the occasion of holi

Presentation of bandishes by Dr Vasant Ranade

Musician and Violinist, Dr Vasant Ranade was a visitor at the Academy on November 7, 8 & 9 to present along with his daughter, Smt Vaishali Padhyer many of the 50 vocal compositions that he has written. Dr Ranade received his training in both vocal and violin from his father, his uncle Bhalchandra Ranade, Pandit S. B. Deshpande and Dr. S. N. Ratanjankar. He also received guidance from Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. A regular broadcaster for AIR and Doorarshan, his original style of violin playing is blended with both the Gayaki and Tantakari ang. On the concluding day of his visit, December 9th, Dr Ranade gave a beautiful and soulful violin performance at our Wednesday recital. He played ragas Shree, Barwa and Khamaj. He was accompanied by Gopal Mishra on tabla and ITC SRA scholar, Saket Sahu, on tanpura.

Diwali Programme at SRA November 2010

A musical Programme was organised by ITC- Sangeet Research Academy on the occasion of Diwali on the 4th of November 2010, involving Scholars and Gurus of the Academy. Bright clothes and happy faces, filled with enthusiasm made for the festive atmosphere in the auditorium and the whole place radiated with the spirit of Diwali. The programme commenced with a Tulsidas bhajan “Jai Jai Jag Janani Devi” sung by the Scholars, Priyanka Mitra, Pampa Mukerjee, Sohini Bhattacharya and ably accompanied by Nibedita Ghosh on the Sitar, Shri Sanjay Adhikari and Rupashree Bhattacharya on the Tabla and Harmonium, respectively. This was followed by a Ghazal and Bhajan recital by Academy’s Scholar Sandeep Bhattacharya. His powerful yet soothing voice raised the spirits and set the mood for the listeners. Shortly after this, Academy’s Scholar Musician Abir Hussain, accompanied by Pandit Samar Saha on the Tabla, displayed his prowess on the Sarod in Raga Brindavani Sarang. Then followed a Vocal Recital by Guru Pandit Arun Bhaduri in Raga Desi. He was accompanied by Shri Tarak Saha on Tabla and Pandit Jyoti Goho on Harmonium, while two of his disciples, Sankumay Debnath and Adarsh Saxena, were on Tanpura. Our Executive Director Mr Ravi Mathur, on behalf of the Academy, took this opportunity to congratulate Scholars who had won the National Scholarship in Music from the Government of India this year. The Scholars are Dwaipayan Roy, Mallhar Rakshit, Sourav Ganguly, Kaustav Kanti Ganguly, Sucheta Ganguly and Manali Bose. Aming the general students, Riddhidev Banerjee also won this scholarship. The grand finale, which led up to a sumptuous lunch was provided by the Academy’s senior most Guru, Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan who enchanted the audience, as always, with his marvellous poetry, specially written for this occasion. Scholars and gurus and members of staff enthusiastically applauded him. Diwali wishes were exchanged in the end and the programme ended on a happy note.

Dr. Guy Beck,June 2010

Dr. Guy Beck, a visiting researcher with us was in Kolkata for six months this year. He is associated with ITC SRA under a US Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Fellowship, working on the Agra Gharana under the guidance and training of Pandit Vijay Kichlu Founding Director of SRA and present Director of the Sangeet Ashram. On June 1, Guy presented a lecture demonstration to the students of the Academy, entitled "American Journey into Indian Music" through which he shared his project and life experiences as an American who has devoted himself to the study of Indian classical vocal music. Guy then sang Ragas Bhimpalasi (Alap and Khayal in Teental, Madhyalaya and Drut )and Nand (Alap and Khayal in Teental , Madhyalaya and Drut) , as well as a Surdas Bhajan set to Raga Shivaranjani.

Recital by Guru Ulhas Kashalkar

20th January, 2010 was the auspicious day of Saraswati Puja in Bengal. This being a Wednesday, at ITC SRA this day was celebrated with a special Wednesday recital featuring Guru Ulhas Kashalkar. The evening began with the Executive Director, Mr Ravi Mathur paying tribute to Ulhasji and acknowledging his huge contribution to Hindustani Classical Music in the country. Performing before a packed auditorium, with music lovers jostling for space, Ulhasji started the evening with Raga Jayatshri. The next raga chosen by him was Kedar. The evening culminated with a superb rendition of Raga Basant. Ulhasji was accompanied on the harmonium by Sri Jyoti Guho, on the tabla by Sri Gopal Mishra and on the tanpura by scholars Sameehan and Aditya.

Amar Paul

Sri Amar Paul, the famous Bengali folk artist was invited to a lecture-demonstration at ITC-SRA on the 24th April ’10. It was the first time that a folk artist ever performed at the Academy. A recipient of the Sangeet Natak Award and a D Lit from Burdwan University, the 88 year old artist was introduced by the Executive Director, Mr Ravi Mathur. Sri Paul started the evening appreciating SRA’s gesture. Amar Paul commenced his lecture demonstration with an introduction to the folk traditions and structure; the emergence of songs from the daily walks of life of a rural man, songs emerging from the basic rituals of the daily chores: for farmers while they sow, the songs of boatmen; songs sung for birth, marriage and death; songs sung for seasons; lullabies and chants of the lord from the Geet Govind. He also sang the tunes of baul music and the peer fakirs of the area, and songs describing women at work while pounding rice. These tunes, a fine blend of rhythm and melody, have all evolved from ragas. Sri Paul’s introduction to the commercial world of music occurred when he met Pt Jnan Prakash Ghosh for the first time at the All India Radio Station, Kolkata. Pt Ghosh specially took to his early morning songs or ‘Prabhati’ which, even today, are held in great regard by many listeners. Sri Paul also got the opportunity to perform in Japan in 1978. He regretted the way folk music is “lifted” by composers even today and who earn enormously from such productions, ignoring the folk musicians who established the original music. At this point, Sri Paul put forward the life of the late Sri Sachin Dev Burman, folk artist and music connoisseur. Unable to gain recognition in the East, Dev Burman moved to Bombay where he received national acclaim for his work. The evening recital at ITC – SRA will be remembered for Sri Amar Paul’s knowledge of, and his vast repertoire of folk music. In spite of his age, he still continues to inspire his audiences with his gifted voice. He is a true icon for future generations of musicians, whether classical, folk or popular.

Sandip Bhattacherjee

Our senior scholar Sandip Bhattacherjee was invited to Digboi, Assam in January this year to conduct a workshop for children. The workshop was very well received. Sandip’s methodical approach and technique generated a lot of enthusiasm and his deep involvement in his art struck an immediate chord with his audience. Congratulations, Sandip!

Pandit Chitresh Das in Concert January 2010

Following the three days of ITC SRA’s Sangeet Sammelan at Kolkata in early January, a special evening was added on, for the classical dance loving public of Kolkata, dedicated to a unique artist, who has taken India’s classical tradition to the world. On January 15th, ITC SRA presented the dynamic feet, dazzling rhythms and decades of excellence embodied by the son of Bengal, Pandit Chitresh Das. Pandit Das performed to a packed audience comprising of some of India’s most respected, notable artists, including Vidushi Girija Devi, Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar, Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan, Pandit Shankar Ghosh and Pandit Bachan Lal Mishra, to name a few. Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty’s introduction was one of the most profound descriptions of Pandit Das. He described Pandit Das not only as one of Bengal’s living legends, but also prayed that Panditji would live for another hundred years, so that he may continue his work for the generations to come. And so, the concert began on such a warm, welcoming note. The performance began with Pandit Das’ signature Shiva Vandhana, Hare Hare Mahadeva. He entered the stage majestically holding an offering of flowers and incense, singing, dancing, and invoking the power of Lord Shiva, accompanied by musicians Pandit Ramesh Misra, on sarangi, Sri Abhijit Banerjee on tabla, Sri Jayanta Banerjee on sitar, and Sri Debashish Sarkar on vocal, and Amitavo Majumdar on sarod. His thaat was marked with lightning -fast flourishes of footwork ending in crisp karanths that took the audience’s breath away. He performed bandishes from both the Lucknow and Jaipur gharana. His signature chakkars were highlighted in an old Jaipur bandish jaga jaga tunjey where he made five sounds with the left foot while creating the effect of akash chari. He proceeded to dance in a fascinating 12 and a half Taal. The element of ‘upaj’ was dominant throughout the concert. His 12 ½ beat Taal, in a dhamaar ‘ang’ was intricate and exciting for Das and for all the musicians attempting to follow along. Replete with all the elements of a traditional Kathak solo, Pandit Das joyously danced tihais, without anyone reciting for him, including a farmaishi chakradar tihai and a kamali chakradar tihai. The aura of joy was created by the exchange between Das, the musicians and the audience. His variety and ingenuity were at times stunning. There was one particular bandish where Pandit Das recited tabla bols, in a dhamaar ang, where sam is ‘kat,’ so he ended with his left foot. Emulating the tabla players, where ‘kat’ is played with the left hand, Pt. Das ended his 12 ½ beat ‘dhamaar ang’ creation taal on his left foot – the abruptness of the arrival of sam left all on the edge of their seats. He then performed, without any accompaniment from the musicians, an evolution in the dance called Kathak Yoga. Here yoga refers to the Sanskrit word meaning union of mind and body. Kathak yoga is a ground breaking innovation within tradition where he played tabla in one taal and performed with his feet different chhands, singing the nagma and playing theka, all simultaneously bringing these traditional elements into harmony. This piece has been the subject of a dissertation at Harvard University. In this particular piece, he not only played tabla, but danced and sang, giving the impression of pure sadhana. He then introduced Jason Samuels Smith, an Emmy-Award winning tap dancer who toured with him to sold-out audiences throughout India. In an electrifying sawal jawab, the exchange between Smith’s taps and Das’ footwork were full of speed, clarity, power, and joy. He then performed Madan Bhasma, in raag Shivaranjani in Japtala. Here he portrayed Parvati’s dance in lasya ang with tremendous Khubsurti and nazakat. He then showed the sringara ras of Madan and Rati in raag Basant Bahar and then through tayyari and layakari he showed Lord Shiva’s anger burning Madan to ashes. The four elements of khubsurti, nazakat, tayyari and layakari were presented in a full length gat bhav incorporating the concept of Ardhanarishwara. He ended his concert with Maha Prabhu Sri Krishna to the audience’s demand where he brought a pure bhakti ras. He intertwined the classical Lucknow gharana na dhi dhi na footwork at a high speed matching with Abhijit Banerjee’s hands, sound for sound. He concluded his performance with a final pranam and as he raised his head, he was blessed and honored with a standing ovation from the learned and eminent crowd. The energy between Das, the audience and the musicians was truly magical. And the joyous and enthusiastic appreciation by all made the occasion a fitting finale to ITC SRA’s extended sammelan week.

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