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ITC SRA News - December 2015 - November 2016

ITC Mini Sangeet Sammelan, Bishnupur - November 19, 2016

ITC Sangeet Research Academy hosted a Mini Sangeet Sammelan in asscoiation with the Murchhana Sangeet Mahavidyalaya at the Jadubhatta Mancha, Bishnupur, Bankura on the 19th of November 2016.

Amongst scholars, vocalist, Shri Deborshee Bhattacharjee and sarodiya, Smt. Debasmita Bhattacharya gave stellar solo performances, while Guru Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty concluded the Sammelan with yet another mesmerising recital. Providing able accompaniment to the artistes on stage were ITC SRA musicians Shri Indranil Bhaduri, Shri Ashoke Mukherjee and Shri Gourab Chatterjee.

Review of ITC Mini Sangeet Sammelan, Malda – 17 March 2016

Review of ITC Mini Sangeet Sammelan, Malda – 17 March 2016

Padma Vibhushan Dr. M. Balamuralikrishnan passes away

Legendary carnatic vocalist M. Balamuralikrishna passed away at 3:30 pm in Chennai today. He was 86.

He breathed his last in his house at Kanakasri Nagar near the famed Music Academy on Cathedral Road.

A native of East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh, he had made Chennai his home for the larger part of his life. Though popularly known as a vocalist, he was also an accomplished composer.

Dr. M Balamuralikrishna was also the recipient of Padma Vibushan, India's second highest civilian honour, for his contribution towards Indian arts.

Padma Vibhushan Girija Devi - celebration at ITC SRA

On January 26, the nation woke up to the news that Dr Girija Devi had been awarded Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second highest civilian honour. It was cause for ITC Sangeet Research Academy to rejoice. She has been a Guru at the Academy from its inception. On 27th January evening, therefore, there was a celebratory get-together with spontaneous participation from all Gurus, Scholars, musicians and staff of the Academy. Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty spoke about how much he had learnt from the great Guru about the art of performance. Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan spoke about the values held dearly by Appaji (as she is lovingly called in the Academy) and her generation and her motherly indulgence towards all younger musicians in the Academy.

ITC SRA Arpan Festival, Kolkata - 1st & 2nd October 2016

Durga symbolises ‘Shakti’ or Strength.  She is the embodiment of the divine feminine energy and power. Therefore, it was in the fitness of things, that ITC Sangeet Research Academy’s Arpan Festival on 1st and 2nd October featured some of the country’s topmost women performers alongside some of the younger ones.

This year's Arpan Festival also marked an important milestone for ITC SRA in terms of the Beta launch of the ITC SRA website, www.itcsra.org, which has been revamped to strengthen ITC SRA's digital presence and to provide users with a highly illustrative and browser friendly musical surfing experience. With much more accessibility and several interactive elements in its overhauled version, the new web portal is expected to open up the doors of the institution to the world of musicians, music researchers and connoisseurs at large.

Sabina Mumtaz Islam Rahman, an alumnus of the Academy, opened the festival with a sensitive rendering of Raga Puriya followed by Shankara. She finished her performance with a Dadra, a form in which she excels. Flautist Debopriya Chatterjee Ranadive delivered a fine Bageshri before moving on to a poignant Mishra Piloo.

The leading light of the evening was of course the 87-year-old Vidushi Girija Devi. Whether it was in her Kedara, her Mishra Khamaj bandish, Dadra or her Bhajan, she displayed the unmistakable signs of a master musician whose lustre age cannot wither.

On the Day 2 of the festival Sucheta Ganguly presented an effortless Yaman and Kajri.  She was in fine fettle, allowing her powerful voice to soar and glide in melodic rapture. Debasmita Bhattacharya seized the opportunity to offer an excellent Raga Durga. Her Mishra Majh Khamaj to follow was also laudable.

The event concluded with Vidushi Aruna Sairam’s performance in the Carnatic style. With an unerring finger on the audience’s pulse, she brought in rhythmic variations executed with the help of her Ghatam and Mridangam percussionists and melodic thrill supported by her violinist. Whether it was in her presentations in Amrit Varshini and Anand Bhairavi, her Ragam Tanam Pallavi and Thillana, or in her impassioned rendering of ‘Jago tumi Jago’, she stayed connected with her audience from beginning to end.     

ITC Sangeet Research Academy Celebrated India’s Independence Day

Like most educational institutions and organisations in the country, ITC Sangeet Research Academy celebrated India’s Independence Day with due ceremony. The National Flag was hoisted by Guru Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan in the presence of Guru Pandit Arun Bhaduri. The staff, Scholars, their parents, security personnel and gardeners who constitute the extended SRA family joined spontaneously in the august ceremony that concluded with the singing of the National Anthem. Afterwards everyone gathered inside the Aldeen building for tea and snacks. The atmosphere was positively festive even while the solemnity of the occasion was maintained by everyone who attended the programme.

Bandish Class taken by Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan

The relationship between the Gurus and Scholars of the Academy is a symbiotic one. Each draws inspiration from the other and the process of teaching and learning gains from it. But, not infrequently, there are other inputs into the process of learning. One such recent initiative was a Bandish Class taken by Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan for all the Scholars and students of the Academy. Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan, who has been acknowledged as Bandish Nawaz for his immense prowess in this area, taught Bhairo bandish ‘Daridra Dukh Bhanjan’ in Jhap Taal followed by ‘Pratham Man Allah’ in Teen Taal. More such classes will be organised in the near future. Each one will doubtless add to the Scholars’ repertoire.

Ayan Sengupta and Alick Sengupta’s performance at Ramkrishna Mission, Asansol - 12th January 2016

The Ramakrishna Mission organized a Musical Festival on 12th January 2016 to mark the 154th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda in association with ITC Sangeet Research Academy, Kolkata, at the auditorium of Ramakrishna Mission Ashram, Asansol. Mr. Jitendra Tiweri, Mayor, Asansol Municipal Corporation inaugurated the program with Mr. Sumit Gupta, Additional District Magistrate, Burdwan, as the Chief Guest and Swami Somatmananda, Secretary of Ramakrishna Mission Ashram, Asansol who spearheaded the event. The second half of the program commenced with scholar Shri Alick Sengupta's recital where he performed Raga Shree and Raga Hameer. The packed audience of over 1000 people were very appreciate of his performance. Both Pandit Jyoti Goho and Shri Sanjay Adhikary provided commendable accompaniment on harmonium and the tabla respectively. The program concluded with scholar Shri Ayan Sengupta's rendition of Raga Jhinjhoti and a Pahari Dhun on his sitar, which was also very well received by the audience. He was accompanied by Shri Indranil Bhaduri on tabla.

ITC SRA Mini Sammelan, Siliguri - 7th April 2016

ITC Sangeet Research Academy, Kolkata, in collaboration with the Association of Physicians of North Bengal, organized a mini sammelan at Siliguri on 19th March 2016. The evening saw performances by senior scholars of the Academy, Shri Ratan Bharati, Shri Alick Sengupta and Shri Ayan Sengupta; musician tutor, Shri Abir Hussain and guru, Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty. Providing them commendable support on tabla were Shri Sanjay Adhikary and Shi Indranil Bhaduri and on harmonium was Shri Gourab Chatterjee, an alumni of ITC SRA.

ITC Sangeet Sammelan at Kolkata - 4th, 5th and 6th December 2015

Awash in soft white light, the Victoria Memorial Hall, stood tall and serene amid the greenery that set off its glorious whiteness to perfection. As a spectacle, what could have matched this! But there was a great deal more to the historic location on the evening of December 4, 2015. It was the venue for the inaugural concert of the ITC Sangeet Sammelan, 2015, and Kolkata’s most famous address reverberated to the music made by some of the country’s leading musicians. An ecstatic audience, large enough to fill up every seat on the gravel pathway leading up to the museum, was enthralled by the atmosphere in which two important heritages of the country, colonial architecture and centuries old classical music, came together. The evening, held by ITC Sangeet Research Academy in collaboration with the Victoria Memorial Hall, began with the felicitation of Dr. L. Subramaniam who was honoured with the ITC Sangeet Samman for 2015. His masterly performance along with that of his son, Ambi Subramaniam, was a fitting tribute to the magnificent ambience of the marvellous monument whose front steps provided the setting for the programme. Later on in the evening, Subhankar Banerjee on the tabla, Sridar Parthasarathy on mridangam, and Gopal Barman on the sreekhol presented a brilliant percussion ensemble. With a combination of sounds and rhythmic compositions that came from the repertoires of the three musicians of three different genres, they created magic with their beats. Malkauns was Ajoy Chakrabarty’s choice for the conclusion of the evening’s performance. His voice soared to astounding heights and echoed through the gardens and the halls of the magnificent museum, leaving memories of an enchanting evening in the minds of all present. The mood was significantly heightened by the outstanding accompaniment on the tabla provided by Kumar Bose. The Sammelan continued on its second and third evenings on the lawns of the ITC Sangeet Research Academy. A night-long concert on December 5 began with Scholar Deborshee Bhattacharya who performed Raga Shudh Kalyan and a Thumri in Pilu. After Pushpraj Koshti’s Jhinjhoti on the Surbahar in the Dhrupad style, Ulhas Kashalkar rendered an inspiring Bihagda which was a lesson in the treatment of the Raga for students of music. Suresh Talwalkar on the tabla added appropriate vigour to the performance. Scholars Saket Sahu on the violin and Ratan Bharti on the slide guitar presented Raga Jog in an elegant jugalbandi and displayed, once more, that the Academy’s youngsters are capable of holding their own even when they share the stage with the greats of Indian classical music. Musician Tutor Arshad Ali Khan chose the not-so-oft-heard Bageshri ang ka Chandrakauns for his performance which he delivered with poise and maturity. A remarkable Jogkauns in Kushal Das’s marvellous treatment proved once again - if proof was at all needed - what an outstanding musician he is. The audience was mesmerised by his performance in the wee hours of the morning, making way for Subhra Guha’s very fine Nayaki Kanhara. A haunting combination of Thumri and Dadra concluded her performance. Although troubled by poor health, she was in fine fettle and completely surpassed herself in the emotional rendering of these traditional compositions in the famous poorav ang gayaki, for which she is known. Dawn arrived with Rajan and Sajan Misra filling up the senses with the notes of Bhatiyar. As the mist lifted from SRA’s lawns, and the mystery of the night made way for daybreak, the vocalist duo spellbound the audience with their rich Benares gharana gayaki. Their performance conluded with an exhilarating tarana in Ramkali. The final evening of the Sammelan began with the Academy’s past Scholar Shashank Maktedar’s Marwa followed by Bahar. Scholar Debasmita Bhattacharya showed great promise in the neatness and felicity of her treatment of Raga Jhinjhoti. Whether it was in her tunefulness or in her grasp over ‘laya’, she showed signs of distinction. It was left to Venkatesh Kumar to draw the curtains on yet another ITC Sangeet Sammelan. His Chhayanat moved every member of the audience making it an incomparable experience. He combined the joy of music with a profundity that only he can muster, creating music that communicated inimitably with the audience. Seemingly effortless, he touched every heart, whether it was in the main Raga, the bandish in Raga Ramkali or in the soulful rendering of a Bhairavi Bhajan.

Malhar Festival, Kolkata, 5th & 6th August 2016

While it rained outside, the notes of Malhar Ragas reverberated in the GD Birla Sabhagar, Kolkata, and filled up every corner of it. Stalwarts such as Pt Ulhas Kashalkar, a Guru of ITC Sangeet Research Acaemy for over two decades, and Pandit Venkatesh Kumar performed t the ITC Sangeet Research Academy’s timely Malhar Festival. It was an array of flavours from the rich family of Ragas - Miyan ki Malhar, Megh, Surdasi and Ramdasi Malhars, Gaud Malhar - that add to the romance of the monsoons. Another Guru of the Academy, Subhra Guha, also performed in the event that upheld the talent of one of the Academy’s most prominent young talents, vocalist Shri Deborshee Bhattacharjee. The instrumental department of the institution was represented by Shri Ayan Sengupta (Sitar) and Shri Ratan Bharati (slide guitar). The festival was once again a celebration of the Guru Shishya Praampara with the masters and youngsters sharing the same stage.

Taal Class on ITC SRA

Fundamental to any music is its relationship with time. In Hindustani Classical Music it is a very well developed system of Taal that keeps it tied within a format of beats with specific intervals between them. At ITC Sangeet Research Academy recently an important lesson on this subject was taught by Guru Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty in a series of two sessions. Having trained, among others, under Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh in vocal music, harmonium playing and the Tabla, Pandit Chakrabarty is one of the foremost teachers of this genre of music. One of the treasures shared with all the Scholars of the evening was that laya (speed) in which a Bandish is performed should take its cue from the lyrics of the Bandish. He instructed the students that they should internalise the taal first and then learn to control taal independently, irrespective of what the Tabla accompanist is playing. One of the methods by which this can be achieved, Pandit Chakrabarty suggested, was by reading out the sounds/mnemonics of the taal theka and get into the habit of writing them down. Improvisation on theka should follow afterwards, he added. It was imperative to learn kaydas and tukdas to get a feel of the taals, he felt. The sessions were both well attended and the Scholars gained much from them.

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