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.