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ITC SRA News - February 2008 - January 2009

The year-end recital

On December 31, 2008, the Academy invited Vidushi Purnima Chaudhuri to be the guest artiste performing at its Wednesday recital. Closely following the footsteps of her Guru Pandit Mahadev Prasad Mishra of Benaras and with the valuable guidance of Padmabhusan Vidushi Girija Devi, Vidushi Purnima Chaudhuri has received wide acclaim with her thumri, dadra, kajri, chaiti, hori and tappa, emerging as a torch bearer of the Benaras gharana. She also sings khayal which she learnt as a child from Pandit A Kanan. A Sangeet Pravin (M. Mus) from Prayag Sangeet Samity, Allahabad, she is a top grade artiste of Akashvani and Doordarshan and has featured in several National Programmes and Akashvani Sangeet Sammelans as well as on B.B.C. TV and in the films “Meeting a Mile Stone” on Ustad Bismillah Khan (NFDC), “Chokher Bali” and “Herbert”, apart from participating in prestigious Music Conferences in the major cities of India as well as UK, USA, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, France and other cities overseas.
She began the evening with khayals in Raga Shyam Kalyan “Savan ki saanjh mein” and “Neend na avat piya bina”. She then presented a thumri in Mishra Khamaj “Sachi kaho mose batiyan”, followed by “Aaj sakhi sham sundar”, a dadra in Raga Mishra Mand which she had learnt as a child from Pandit A.Kanan. This was followed by a tappa “Veer de janiya”, a thumri in Raga Manj Khamaj “Jag padi main to piya ko jagaye”, a bandishi thumri in Raga Tilak Kamod “Rokona dagar mero shyam” and a dadra “Dagara bicha kaise chalo”. She concluded her performance with “Lagata karajava mein chot” in Raga Bhairavi. She was accompanied by Shri Samar Saha on the tabla and Shri Jyoti Goho on the harmonium.

ITC-SRA Bijoya Sammilani

The social aspects of festivals have over the years become increasingly important. One such occasion is the Bijoya Sammilani, the exchange of pleasantries on the conclusion of Durga Puja, the most important Hindu religious festival of Bengal. At the ITC Sangeet Research Academy, this has been celebrated with a special recital with the distribution of sweetmeats and savouries. This year’s programme, which took place on October 22, featured performances by some of the Academy’s Scholars.
Pinaki Bose began the evening with two bhajans. This was followed by Manali Bose’s performance. She began with a Durga Stuti followed by a Bengali Ragaprodhan song written by Shri Sanjay Chakarabarty. She also sang a Bengali composition of late Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh and another written by Gauri Prasanna Majumdar and set to tune by Pandit Arun Bhaduri. She concluded with a Nanak bhajan composed by Pandit Arun Bhaduri. The evening concluded with a sarod recital by Abir Hossain who began with alap, jod, jhala and gat in Raga Pilu. On request, he concluded with Raga Bhairavi.

May 2008

The influence of Hindustani Raga Sangeet on other forms of popular music in India and the fact that these music systems are flourishing side-by-side with Raga Sangeet is a well-known fact. In an attempt to understand these systems, find out their relation with Raga Sangeet and enrich our overall understanding of music, a series of programmes are being organised at the Academy.
The first such programme was held on May 8, 2008, celebrating the birthday of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. Pandit Buddhadev Das Gupta conducted the proceedings that evening. He has composed several bandishes that were inspired by Tagore songs. Accompanied by Pandit Das Gupta’s explanations, some of his inspired compositions were played by his disciple, scholar Smarajit Kumar Sen, while scholar Manali Bose sang the Tagore songs which inspired these compositions. Tabla accompaniment was provided by Chandrabhan Srisundar.
Another evening commemorating the birthday of Kazi Nazrul Islam, poet-musician-revolutionary-philosopher, was held on May 26, 2008. Vidushi Dipali Nag’s career in Bengali music was launched by the poet’s composition “Megho meduro baroshay”, inspired by the bandish “Morey mandira ab lo” on Raga Jayjaiwanti. The record received an unprecedented response. After she recounted her experiences with the poet, songs were sung by Sucheta Ganguly, Sandip Bhattacharjee, Rupashree Bhattacharya, Samarth Nagarkar and Pandit Arun Bhaduri. Sandip Kumar Ray Chaudhuri provided tabla accompaniment.

Sangeet Natya Vaibhav

On March 23, 2008, at Uttam Manch, Kolkata, ITC Sangeet Research Academy organised a programme specially designed with the purpose of presenting about 21 Marathi Stage Songs from popular Sangeet Nataks of Maharashtra. The presentation was by Dr Ravindra Ghangurde, Shrimati Vandana Ghangurde and their troupe from Pune, Naadbrahma. The presentation was in proper costume and make-up along with the accompaniment of organ and tabla, which is typical to the art form. The troupe members were Shekhar Vechlekar (singer, actor), Sanjay Phagare (tabla), Kedar Bhagwat (organ), Pranav Kulkarni (tanpura), Mandar Karulkar (Compere), Siddheshwar Kokare (Drapery), Suhas Kondvilkar (make-up).

For easier understanding, the commentary was in Hindi. In the tradition of Sangeet Nataks, the ‘Nandi’ from Sangeet Manapaman provided the prelude, after which the ‘Ish-stavan’ from Sangeet Soubhadra was presented. This was followed by a special item ‘Sutradhar & Nati’, also from Sangeet Soubhadra. Excerpts of the dialogues from the Sangeet Nataks from which each song was selected, provided the background for each song. In many compositions, the original classical bandish or folk song or kirtan was also presented. Excerpts from Sanshay Kallor, Katyar Kaljat Ghusali, Ranadundubhi, Matsyagandha and others were also presented. During an interactive session the following afternoon, Dr Ghangurde presented the history of the art form and its present-day status in Maharashtra. The session was attended by enthusiastic members of the audience, the press and gurus and scholars of the Academy.

Guru Purnima Celebrations at ITC-SRA

Indian culture places Gurus who impart knowledge, at par with the Gods. Acquiring knowledge forms the basis of a man’s future, so worshipping a Guru is like worshipping truth, knowledge and invaluable experiences. Guru Purnima is a special day celebrated on the full moon day of the month of Ashadh, to pay homage to all Gurus. It dates back to the time of 'gurukuls' or 'ashrams' of ancient India. The day is also known as Vyas Purnima in remembrance of the great sage Ved Vyas, the Guru who wrote the great epic 'Mahabharata', the 18 'Puranas' and classified the 'Vedas' of the Hindu religion. On this day it is customary for students to visit their elders, teachers and guides, in order to show respect to them.
At the ITC Sangeet Research Academy, the only Sangeet Gurukul of its kind in India, where knowledge is transmitted in the tradition of the guru-shishya parampara, celebrations for Guru Purnima were organised at a special Wednesday recital on July 30, 2008. All the gurus were felicitated, with a special offering to the senior-most, Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan, who is presently celebrating his 100th year. Inaugurating the celebrations, Dr Vidyadhar Vyas, Executive Director, said that there is a great difference between a teacher or instructor and a Guru. The Guru ensures that the shishya can imbibe not only the knowledge he imparts, but is also motivated with the necessary attitudes so that he can continue to excel and improve himself. When the time comes, he can also become a Guru and can continue to preserve and propagate the legacy that has been so carefully and meticulously handed down to him.
The Executive Director felicitated Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan, senior-most Guru and Vidushi Dipali Nag, adviser, Scientific Research Dept, while the scholars felicitated Padmabhushan Vidushi Girija Devi, Vidushi Malavika Kanan, Pandit Buddhadev Das Gupta, Pandit Falguni Mitra, Pandit Arun Bhaduri, Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar, Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan as well as Pandit Vidyadhar Vyas, himself a renowned Guru. This was followed by a vocal recital by Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan. He presented khayals in Ragas Miyan Malhar and Nat Malhar, a chaturang in Raga Rageshree, a Bhojpuri geet and a bhajan. He was accompanied on the tabla by Shri Gopal Misra, while Shri Jyoti Goho provided harmonium support. Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan’s disciples played the tanpuras and gave vocal support. This was the first time that Guru Purnima was celebrated at the Academy.

Wednesday Recitals in June, 2008

On June 18, 2008, there was a santoor recital.by Pandit Ulhas Bapat of Mumbai. He played alap, jod, jhala and gats in Raga Poorva Kalyan, followed by gats in Ragas Bihagda and Janasammohini. He concluded with a Raga Sagar. Shri Samar Saha provided tabla accompaniment.
June 25, 2008, brought ITC-SRA Guru Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar to the dais. He presented khayals in Ragas Lalitagauri, Surdasi Malhar and Paraj. He was accompanied by Shri Gopal Mishra on the tabla and Shri Jyoti Goho on the harmonium while ITC-SRA scholars Samarth Nagarkar and Sameehan Kashalkar provided vocal support.

Wednesday Recitals in April, 2008

The first Wednesday of April featured a sarod recital by Shri Kalyan Mukherjee. He has been trained by such virtuosos as Ustad Bahadur Khan and Pandit Ajoy Sinha Roy. He began with alap, jod, jhala in Rag Marwa and concluded with gats in Raga Puriya Dhanashree. He was ably accompanied on the tabla by Shri Gopal Mishra
The last Wednesday in April featured a vocal recital by internationally acclaimed writer Shri Amit Chaudhuri. Initially trained by Pandit Govind Prasad Jaipurwale of the Kunwar Shyam gharana, he was later guided by Pandit A. Kanan He began his performance with khayals in Raga Puriya Kalyan. He concluded with Raga Jogeshwari. He was accompanied on the tabla by Samar Saha while Rupashree Bhattacharya played the harmonium.

A concert by a Guest Artiste

The second Wednesday in January brought a guest artiste to the Academy, Ustad Shaukat Hussain Khan ‘Niazi’. Son of the legendary late Ustad Sharafat Hussain Khan Sahib of the Agra-Atrauli gharana, he was initiated into the world of music at the age of five by his father. After his father’s sudden demise, he received guidance from his maternal uncles Ustad Yunus Hussain Khan and Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan. He continues to take guidance from Shrimati Purnima Sen, a disciple of Ustad Sharafat Hussain Khan. A versatile artiste, Ustad Shaukat Hussain can sing khayal, dhrupad, dhamar, thumri, tappa and bhajans with consummate ease. A top grade artiste of All India Radio, he has performed at various concerts in India and abroad. Besides winning accolades as a performer, he is currently the divisional head for vocal music at the Saptak School of Music, Ahmedabad, grooming a new generation of performers in the Agra-Atrauli tradition. He was honoured with the Gaurav Puraskar for the year 2004-2005 by the Government of Gujerat.
He began his performance with khayals in Raga Bihag, vilambit ektala, “Dhun, dhun re” and drut teentala, “Hazrat ali tum ho mahabali”. He then presented khayals in Raga Chandrakauns, “Kanha tumhare karan”, vilambit ektala and “Mori pakad baiyan chhedo”, drut teentala. He concluded with a bandish in Raga Suha-Sughrai “Nainan so dekhi maine”. He was accompanied on the tabla by Shri Gopal Mishra, while Shrimati Rupashree Bhattacharya provided harmonium support.

A unique Wednesday recital

On December 24, 2008; the Academy had a unique Wednesday recital. The first hour comprised archival recordings. The first recording was that of a recital by Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan singing Raga Bhupali at erstwhile Expert Committee Member Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh’s Dixon lane residence. The next recording that was played was a Raga Sagar sung by Pandit Omkarnath Thakur.
The next part of the evening comprised the performance of a percussion ensemble lead by Vidwan S.Sekhar. The Ensemble comprised Vidwan S.Sekhar (Mridangam), Somnath Roy (Ghatam), Subrata Manna (Tabla), K.Gopakumar (Chenda) & Kunal Padhy (Drums). The performance began with a short introductory statement by Pandit S.Sekhar during which after he introduced the members of the ensemble and explained that they would begin in unison and then play individual sequences, building up to a climax. The basic rhythm cycle chosen was aditala, which he demonstrated. He also spoke of the Carnatic tradition of tala vadya kacheri which he had adopted, though the instruments he used were not all strictly in the Carnatic tradition. He also pointed out that his aim was to strive towards highlighting the melodic element along with mathematics.
The group began with an introduction played in unison. After this the performers played 2 rounds of solo portions of the chenda tabla, mridangam, ghatam and finally the drums. The group again played in unison for a short while, building up to the climax wherein the individual instruments played 8 beats, 4 beats, 2 beats and 1 beat in rotation, aesthetically bringing out the changes in tonal quality, the instruments being played in rotation. This was perhaps the first such programme organised at the Academy.

Wednesday Recitals in March, 2008

In the second Wednesday in March, Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan presented a vocal recital. He presented khayals in Ragas anand shri, Jaitashree, puriya dhanashri, Basant Bahar, Suha Bahar, Adana Bahar, Nayaki Bahar, Madhu Bahar and Shudh Bahar. He concluded with a thumri in Raga Pilu. He was accompanied by Shri Sndip Kumar Ray Chaudhuri on the tabla and Shri Jyoti Gho on the harmonium.
The third Wednesday in March featured a vocal recital by Shrimati Rita Ganguly. She began with a thumri in Raga Kaushik Dhani, then presenting a hori in Mishra Kafi, a thumri in Mishra Kafi and finally a dadra in Raga Bhairavi. She was accompanied by Shri Sandip Ray Chaudhuri on the tabla, Shri Debashish Haldar on the sarangi and Shrimati Rupashri Bhattacharya on the harmonium.
The last Wednesday of March brought the senior-most Guru of the Academy Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan to the dais. He began his vocal recital with khayals in Raga Chhaya Bihag, followed by khayals in Ragas Bhupali and Shankara. He also presented a hori in Raga Khamaj and a chaiti. He was ably accompanied by Shri Gopal Mishra on the tabla and Shrimati Rupashree Bhattacharya on the harmonium.

Overseas Visitor

On September 8, 2008, Ustad Nasiruddin Saami of Karachi, Pakistan, performed at the Academy auditorium. Born in a family of classical vocalists who have been practising their art for more than 730 years, his ancestor Miyan Samath was trained by Hazrat Ameer Khusrau himself and was connected to the Durbar of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. Another great personality Qutub Baksh alias Ustad Tanras Khansahib was the musician in the court of Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar.
Beginning his training at the age of 10 from his great-uncle Sardar Khan in Lahore, after 5 years Ustad Saami moved to Karachi and trained under his uncles Iftikhar Ahmed and Piaray Khan. His main mentor was Ustad Munshi Raziauddin. A strict follower in the style of his family tradition, his ancestors founded the Delhi Gharana and followed tradition - keeping ‘sur’ as the most important component of singing.

He began the evening’s performance with khayals in Raga Multani. This was followed by a sadra in Raga Adana. He concluded his performance with two interesting taranas. At the interactive session that followed, he pointed out that Hindustani Raga Sangeet is a part of a common heritage because it originated in a place that was neither India nor Pakistan. However, he admits that while the classical music scenario in Pakistan from 1947-1977 was encouraging; the situation gradually deteriorated Nevertheless, he feels that in the last decade things have been looking up, much of the credit going to the “All Pakistan Music Conference”, which has actively promoted classical music. Not only has it bridged the gap between India and Pakistan by inviting Indian artistes to Pakistan, but it has also restored faith among former listeners in Pakistan who are once again eager to attend these programmes.
Not surprisingly, for him the Ustad-Shagird relation is sacred. “The most important thing is the understanding. The Shagird has to read his Ustad’s mind and understand what he wants to convey,” he explains. That evening he was accompanied on the tabla by Shri Gopal Mishra, a faculty member of the Academy, while his sons provided harmonium, tanpura and vocal support.

ITC Sangeet Research Academy celebrates the advent of spring

The Wednesday recital on February 13, 2008, was a celebration of the advent of spring. Traditionally, Basant Panchami is a Hindu festival celebrating Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music, and art. It is generally held on the fifth day of the Bengali month of Magh. During this festival, people usually wear yellow garments and worship the goddess. This year, the festival was on Monday February 11, 2008. At the Academy the occasion was celebrated the following Wednesday with a performance by ITC-SRA Guru Padmabhushan Vidushi Girija Devi. In keeping with the custom, yellow sweets were given to all the members of the audience as they came into the auditorium.
The evening began with a Saraswati shloka, followed by khayals and a tappa in Raga Purvi. This was followed by a Hori in Raga Desh, a thumri, a bandish in Raga Bahar and a dadra. She concluded with a Bhairavi thumri. She was accompanied by Shri Sandip Roy Chowdhury on the tabla and Shri Jyoti Goho on the harmonium. Two of her students provided vocal support.

Lec-Dems at the Academy

The week starting February 18, 2008, proved to be a week of great activity at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy.
Prof Clarence Barlow who holds the Corwin Endowed Chair of Composition at the University of California, Santa Barbara gave a lecture-demonstration on Tuesday 19, 2008. A renowned Western music composer, he was born in Kolkata and spent several years of his childhood and youth learning and later teaching at the Calcutta School of Music. Developing an interest in Hindustani music, he composed seven pieces - mainly rondos and fugues, using Raga music. These were presented and discussed with the scholars of the Academy.
On Friday 22, 2008, Prof Arun Chanda of The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA, a visiting Fulbright Scholar at the Sardar Patel University, Gujarat, presented a lecture-demonstration on his contemporary compositions. Trained in the Western classical tradition, he is a composer of contemporary music and holds the view that today’s standards of music and non-music are not sacrosanct. What is not considered musical today may well become music in the future. The scholars of the Academy had an interesting afternoon of music listening followed by discussions.
Both the visitors were delegates at the International Symposium ‘Frontiers of Research on Speech and Music’ (FRSM 2008), organised by the Scientific Research Dept., ITC Sangeet Research Academy in collaboration with CDAC, Kolkata, Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata and Sir C V Raman Centre for Physics and Music, Jadavpur University, Kolkata.

Navonmesh Utsav

On March 1 and 2, 2008, an event aimed at presenting ITC-SRA scholars and invited young, promising artistes was held at G D Birla Sabhaghar, Kolkata. The first evening entitled ‘Jugalbandi Jod’ featured 3 duets. The first was a violin and flute duet by Milind Raikar and Abhay Phagde, accompanied on the tabla by Vinod Lele. Playing in the gayakee ang, they introduced Raga Puriya Kalyan and presented ektala and teentala bandishes. They concluded with a dhun in Mishra Manj Khamaj.

The second duet was by ITC-SRA scholars Arshad Ali and Sandip Bhattacharya, disciples of Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan. They presented khayals in Raga Bihag “Chinta na kara re” in jhaptala, followed by “Rajan ke raja maharaja” in teentala. They were accompanied on the tabla by Gopal Mishra while Jyoti Goho provided harmonium support.

The concluding performance was a sitar and cello duet by Subhendra Rao and Saskia Rao de Haas. They presented alap, jod, gats and jhala in Raga Jog, followed by a dhun in Raga Khamaj. Samar Saha provided tabla accompaniment.
The second evening entitled ‘Stree Gaurav’ commemorated International Women’s Day, featuring lady musicians. Chitrangana Agle Reshwal presented a pakhawaj solo. Her presentation included some Nana Panse gharana jhala, farmaishi chakradhar, dhirkit variations from tabla repertoire and a paran with 27 ‘dha’. Nagma in Raga Mishra Mand was played by Hiranmay Mitra.
The second item was a vocal jugalbandi by ITC-SRA scholars Sucheta Ganguly and Manali Bose, disciples of Pandit Arun Bhaduri. They began with khayals in Raga Basant “Nabi ke darbar”, “Eri eri gaili gaili” in ektala and “Piya sang khel” in teentala. They then presented “Ayo ri basant” in Raga Kaunsidhwani. They were accompanied on the tabla by Tarak Saha while Rupashree Bhattacharya provided harmonium support.
The concluding item was a solo Hawaiian guitar recital by Kamala Shankar. She presented Raga Gorakh Kalyan, accompanied on the tabla by Vinod Lele. All the performances were proof that audiences of Hindustani Raga Sangeet have much to look forward to.

Overseas Visitors at ITC Sangeet Research Academy

Last week ITC Sangeet Research Academy played host to two Westerners who have made Hindustani Raga Sangeet their own.
‘Bansuri’ player and composer Catherine Potter gave a lecture-demonstration at the ITC-SRA auditorium on February 4, 2008. A student of the renowned Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia for close to 20 years, she skillfully demonstrated the elements of Raga Sangeet that she has so ably blended with cross-cultural influences, for her ‘Duniya Project’ which is a unique world music ensemble presently featuring Ravi Naimpally on tabla, Bill Parsons on guitar, Nicolas Caloia on double–bass and Thom Gossage on drums. 'Duniya' evokes as much the international flavour of Potter’s compositions as the diversity of the talented musicians in the project. The group performed on January 31, at the Congo Square JazzFest 2008 held at the Dalhousie Institute, Kolkata.
On February 6, 2008, the Wednesday recital found Prof T.M.Hoffman giving a lecture-demonstration of Hindustani Raga Sangeet on the Japanese Koto and Shakuhachi. The bandh called on that day lead to a restricted audience, though interested listeners did find their way to the Academy. The Japanese Consul and his wife were present on the occasion. Tim Hoffman has spent 19 years in Japan, 6 years in India, and 1 year in Sri Lanka. Apart from a formal Masters degree from University of Hawaii/East-West Center, he holds a Visharad 5-yr degree from Bhatkhande College of Music, Lucknow in Hindustani classical vocal and flute. He was trained by renowned masters - in piano, Grace Mundorf Myers, USA; in shakuhachi, Yamaguchi Goro, Japan, and in Indian classical vocal, Ganesh Prasad Mishra, India. Perhaps the most important lesson of the day was ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’. Prof Hoffman’s laudable attempts at combining cultures could pave the way for other enthusiasts to take up the cause!.

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