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ITC SRA News - March 2017 - February 2018

ITC Mini Sangeet Sammelan, Baroda

The music lovers of Baroda gave a fine account of themselves, turning up in large numbers for the ITC Mini Sangeet Sammelan jointly organised by the Faculty of Performing Arts, MS University, and the ITC Sangeet.Research Academy. If a turn-out of 1000-odd listeners expectedly turned up for iTC SRA Guru Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar's performance, it was wonderful to see the enthusiastic response to Musician.Tutor Shri Waseem Ahmed Khan's performance. But what was most heartening was the amazing interest in the upcoming Sarod player Debasmita Bhattacharya's rendition of Raga Jhinjhoti. A bursting-at-the-seams CC Mehta Auditorium, the venue for the two-day event, broke out in spontaneous applause each time Debasmita effortlessly executed a nuance of the Raga. Waseem Ahmed Khan's choice was Jaijaiwanti while Ulhasji presented Nand, Basant and Adana.

Arpan Festival 2017

As a harbinger of the celebration of the victory of good over evil, Durga Puja, ITC Sangeet Research Academy presented its Arpan Festival last week. The two-day event was held in collaboration with The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Golpark, in its Vivekananda Hall. Kumar Mardur’s sonorous presentation in Raga Shree heralded the event. The Thumri that followed was enthralling. Ayan Sengupta’s Shyam Kalyan was precise and impressive. The evening was concluded by Ulhas Kashalkar’s Basanti Kedar followed by Malati Basant. The uncrowned king of paired Ragas, Ulhas Kashalkar, proved once more that there is no one like him when it comes to a masterful display of these rare combination Ragas. His meditative Bhiravi Bhajan ended the first evening of the programme. His former Scholar, and now a Guru of the Academy, Omkar Dadarkar chose Raga Bhimpalasi to start off the second evening of Arpan. His nuanced presentation bore marks of his learning from his Guru but shone with the individuality that the vocalist is now known for. His Durga Bhajan was delivered with consummate artistry.Paramananda Roy’s Puriya and Bahar were both inspiring. The festival concluded with Ajoy Chakrabaty’s Kafi Dhrupad and a Bhajan in the rare Raga Parameshwari. Dazzling in its impact, the presentation in Kafi was exceptional in its study of the Raga as well as in layakari. The Bhajan was also delivered with the assurance of a master.

Holi Celebrations at ITC SRA

Spring manifests itself through various Ragas and musical forms in Hindustani Classical Music. Many of them centre around the festival of Holi, which was recently celebrated at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy. A repository of all genres of north Indian classical music, the Academy’s offering naturally went well beyond the vibrant colours of 'gulal'. It touched upon the pulsating energy of the season of youth and effervescence.

Traditional Dhamars, Khayal Bandishes, instrumental renditions of Ragas, Thumris and Horis livened up the programme. The Musician Tutors of the Academy, Omkar Dadarkar,Waseem Ahmed Khan, Kumar Mardur and Arshad Ali Khan jointly explored the Khayal form. Sagar Morankar and Prasanna Vishwanathan chose Dhamar compositions based on the festivities. Instrumental duets were presented by Abir Hussain and Ayan Sengupta and later on by Ratan Bharati and Paramananda Roy. Kriteka Iyer and Nirbhay Saxena and, to conclude the evening, Deborshee Bhattacharjee and Sankumay Debnath, together presented Thumris to complete a lively evening of music.

In the audience were some of the stalwarts of Hindustani Classical Music and Gurus of the Academy, Girija Devi, Arun Bhaduri, Ajoy Chakrabarty and Uday Bhawalkar.

ITC Sangeet Sammelan 2017

The musical session began with a tribute jointly performed by four of the students of Vidushi Girija Devi - Shree Omkar Dadarkar, Smt. Sucheta Ganguly, Smt. Aparajita Lahiri Bhramhachari and Smt. Shoumi Roy. They presented the famous Thumris, Dadras, a Tappa and some Khayal Bandishes of Appaji. Through their presentation they brought out so well the legacy that their Guru has left behind and that her music will keep on emanating thorugh the voices of her Shagirds.

The second item of the evening was a Flute recital by Paramananda Roy, a Scholar of the Academy, who played Raag Yaman. Ashoke Mukherjee provided unobtrusive support to the first two items.

The concluding item was by Pandit Venkatesh Kumar. In his idiosyncratic style, he sang Behag, churning out newer nuances from an old melody. He disclosed newer avenues and charmed the audience yet again. He then sang Raag Durga(Drut Bandish & Tarana in Teentaal), a Thumri in Khamaj and a Bhajan in Bhairavi. Pandit Subhankar Banerjee's Tabla accompaniment took the performance to greater heights.

The whole night session of the second day began with a vocal recital by Smt. Sucheta Ganguly, a Musician Scholar of the Academy. She chose to sing Raag Yaman. With her emotive approach, she sang a Thumri in Mishra Khamaj and a Dadra and proved herself to be a worthy successor of her Gurus.

The second item of the evening was a Carnatic Vocal recital by Smt. Sudha Raghunathan, who sang a Varnam in Raagam Vasantha ("Ninnukori Yunnara Nenarunchi Nannelukora") in Adi Taalam composed by Tacchur Singaaraachari, a Kruti in Raagam Jaganmohini ("Saptaswara Shobhillu") in Taalam Rupakam by Saint Thyagraja and Raagam-Taanam-Pallavi in Raagam Shanmukhapriya Mutthuswami Dikhshitar.

The third item was a Sitar recital by Scholar Ayan Sengupta, who played Alaap-Jod-Jhala and Gat in Jhaptaal and Drut Teentaal in Raag Jog and Madhyalaya Gat in Teentaal in Raag Sohini. Within a short span, he made his command over the instrument evident. He was dexterously accompanied on the Tabla by Indranil Bhaduri.

The fourth item was a vocal recital by Ustad Rashid Khan, an alumnus of the Academy. He sang Gorakh Kalyan, a Punjabi-Ang Thumri and a Dadra ("Diwana Kiye Shyam") in memory of his beloved Appaji, whom he had shared a long affectionate maternal relationship with, while he was learning at the Academy.

Then was the turn for Kala Ramnath, the able successor of her aunt Dr. N. Rajam, to perform for the Kolkatans after a hiatus. She played Raag Jogkauns, with Khayal Bandishes set to Ektaal and Teentaal, and a Chaiti ("Chait Maas Bolele Koyeliya"), synonymous with Appaji.

Uday Bhawalkar, a Guru of the Academy was the next performer. He chose to sing Raag Malkauns, with Bandishes in Tevra Taal ("Anahat Naad") and Sooltaal ("Shankar Girijapati"). He displayed the Shrutis and their Swarsthan so accurately that it brought forth the Raag in its full glory. His meditative approach and purity of Baani towards the Raag and rhythm made his presentation endearing to the audience.

Ustad Shahid Parvez, played Alap-Jod-Jhala in Raag Bageshree and Gats in Raag Rageshree set to Rupak Taal and Teentaal. His incredible command over the instrument was evident through his Meends and Taiyari and how unexpectedly he delved into the notes and came up with impeccable turns. As an encore, he played a Bhatiyali Dhun.

As the night gradually transformed into dawn, Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty began his recital as the last artist of the night. He sang Nat Bhairav and a Thumri in Bhairavi ("Baju Band Khul Jaye"). His innovative approach towards presentation and in devising new ways of portraying a Raag proves his stature as one of the pathfinders of today's music.

The third day began with a Carnatic Duet Vocal recital by Trichur Brothers, who sang a Varnam composed by Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar in Raag Kamaas ("Maate Malayadwaja Pandya Samjate") set to Aadi Taalam, Saint Thyagraja's Kruti ("Anupama Gunambudhi") in Raag Athana set to Taalam Jhampa, Kruti by Saint Muthuswami Dikshitar ("Shree Ramam Ravikulapthi Somam") in Raag Narayanagowla, Saint Thyagraja's Kruti ("NenarunChinanu Annitiki") in Raagam Malavi set to Aadi Taalam and Raagam-Taanam-Pallavi in Raag Vrindavani Saarang.

The second artist of the evening was Kaushiki Chakraborty, who sang Puriya Kalyan with Vilambit Ektaal and a Drut Bandish in Ekwai/Teental composed by Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan respectively. She concluded with a soulful passionate Thumri in Manjh Khamaj. The audience was spellbinded by her music and it leaves no doubt that she happens to be the best representative of Patiala Gharana today, with her mastery over every facet of her Gharana.

The last artist of the evening was Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar, who sang Kaunshi Kanada in Nayaki Ang, a Bandish with Punjabi lyrics in Sohini and "Jamuna Ke Teer" in Mishra Bhairavi. His singing bespoke of his rich repartoire and he being a huge storehouse of knowledge which he each time gives us a glimpse of. The astounding ending to this year's Sammelan will linger on amongst the audience's minds forever.

Sarangi Maestro, Pandit Ramesh Mishra, passes away

Mastering over one of the most difficult unique string instruments ' Sarangi', Pandit Ramesh Mishra passed away on the 13th of March 2017 in New York. Son of sarangi maestro Pt. Ramnath Mishra, Ramesh started his initial intensive training at very tender age from his father and acquired further knowledge and training from finest musicians of Benaras Gharana Pandit Hanuman Prasad Mishra, Late Pandit Gopal Mishra and Late Pandit Ravi Shankar. Ramesh Mishra's high aesthetic sense, and artistic sensibilities along with his inner soft nature gave him recognition both in home and aboard as an eminent soloist as well as an adept accompanist. His perfect restrained tuneful music enthralled the global audience. Besides a recipient of India's most prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar (Akademi Awards) for the year 2008 for his outstanding contribution in the field of music (sarangi), Pt. Ramesh Mishra also received of Sangeet Natak Award of Uttar Pradesh 1992, honored with Geetanjali, Uttam, Dishari Award, Jhadhu Bhatta award from West Bengal in 2007 and various other awards from different musical organizations. In 1959 Ramesh was sent as a cultural delegate to Pakistan by late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India. Both as soloist and accompanist, Pandit Ramesh Mishra traveled all over the world accompanying internationally reputed artists. In addition he has produced numerous recordings including his own solo records and earned a niche in the hearts of millions of music lovers. Mr. Mishra's creativity and imagination along with his profound knowledge of Indian classical, folk and light music and his vast experience of music performance and recording is worth mentioning. He was an asset to the music world and his mesmerizing melodies produced by his sarangi can be heard in many music productions including Ravi Shankar's 'live in Kremlin' and the Grammy nominated album 'Legacy' produced by the legendary Ali Akbar Khan. He was also a participating artist in the production of the "Concert for George" at Royal Albert Hall in London, November 2002. Pandit Mishra is one of the recording artist in Aero Smith's much acclaimed album " Nine Lives ". Ramesh Mishra was an accomplished artist, inspiring teacher and creative collaborator. His contribution to the American performing arts as well as world music will certainly continue to be unique and valuable.

ITC SRA pays homage to Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore

The Rabindra Jayanti celebration at ITC Sangeet Research Academy recently was a spontaneous endeavour from the Scholars and staff of the Academy. Entitled ‘Gobhir Ragini Uthe Baji’, the event centred around Tagore’s songs with the theme of music. For Tagore, music was both an expression of love and harmony as well as a metaphor for life itself. In a song like ‘Dnariye achho tumi amar gaaner opare’, music is the bridge that separates him from the Creator. In ‘Ki sur baaje amar prane’, melody is the language of love. Twenty-odd songs were selected by Musician Scholars Deborshee Bhattacharjee and Ratan Bharati who helmed the programme to create a bouquet of songs. Sabyasachi Ray Chaudhury, Sreemoyee Acharya, Moupali Choudhury, Shoumi Roy, Deborshee Bhattacharjee, Sucheta Ganguly, Brajeswar Mukherjee, Shatavisha Mukherjee, Meher Paralikar, Tejaswini Vernekar, Sankumay Debnath, Arjun Roy, Sumedha Dey, Rupayan Sarkar and Sohini Ghosh sang the songs effortlessly with great elegance. Ayan Sengupta and Srijanee Banerjee on the Sitar livened up the performance, while Paramananda Roy on the flute created a lovely ambience. Indranil Bhaduri and Bivash Sanghai supported the singers on the Tabla, while Ashoke Mukherjee raised the bar of the programme with his delightful theka on both the Tabla as well as the Khol.

ITC Mini Sangeet Sammelan, Agartala

An ITC Mini Sangeet Sammelan was held at the Agartala Townhall auditorium, Tripura on 7th and 8th of March 2017. The event was inaugurated by the Honorable Chief Minister, Government of Tripura, Shri Manik Sarkar and Minister of Information and Culture, Govt. of Tripura, Shri Bhanulal Saha. The 2-day musical saga consisted of stellar performances by Shri Brajeswar Mukherjee, Musician Tutor of ITCSRA who performed Raga Bhupali followed by a dadra, sitar virtuoso, Pandit Kushal Das who rendered Raga Jhinjhoti and Shri Omkar Dadarkar who presented an exquisite Raga Shankara. The audiences were left both speechless and asking for more after Omkar concluded the 1st day with the bhajan, 'Baje Muraliya Baje'. The second day commenced with Guru Pandit Uday Bhawalkar performing Raga Kaushik Dhwani followed by a composition 'Shiva Shiva' on Raga Adana based on Sool Taal. The instrumental trio of ITC SRA comprising of scholars Shri Ratan Bharati (slide guitar), Shri Ayan Sengupta (sitar) and Shri Paramanada Roy (flute) enthralled the audiences with their rendition of Raga Rageshree in what was their debut performance at Agartala which was received with tremendous applause and appreciation from the audiences. Guru Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty concluded the second day with his mellifluous rendition of Raga Hansadhwani followed by a bhajan based on Raga Bhairavi.

Annual Gradation Test - 2017

The Scholars of ITC Sangeet Research Academy went through a process of intense assessment and self-evaluation recently. The Gradation, organised annually by the Academy to determine the levels of progress of every student, is a comprehensive process of judging the development of every Scholar. The panel of examiners comprising the Gurus of the Academy was enhanced by the presence of Ashwini Bhide Deshpande for Vocal Music and Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumdar for Instrumental Music. Both the musicians have been involved in the examination process of the Academy and concern themselves with the welfare of the Scholars on a continual basis. Assessing the learning and providing detailed feedback to the students is an important part of the pedagogical environment of the institution. The challenges that are put before the Scholars are compounded by the intimidating panel of Gurus before whom they must perform within a stipulated time even while following all the rules of Raga, gayaki, taal and performance traditions. The participation and the shared responsibility of Gurus and students in the display of knowledge and dedication make it a mutually beneficial process. Goals are set for Scholars which are to be discussed with their Gurus so as to determine and the path ahead for both. The Gradation process in ITC Sangeet Research Academy provides the map for the journey of each student and teacher.

Doyen of Hindustani Classical Music, Gaan Saraswati Kishori Amonkar passes away.

Kishori Amonkar, the legendary Hindustani classical vocalist, passed away in Mumbai on the 3rd of April, 2017, Monday night after a brief illness. She was 84.

Born in Bombay on April 10, 1932, Amonkar was recognised as one of the foremost singers in the Hindustani tradition and as an innovative exponent of the Jaipur gharana.

Amonkar’s mother was the well-known vocalist Mogubai Kurdikar, who trained under Alladiya Khan, the doyen of the Jaipur gharana.

In the early 1940s, young Kishori began to receive vocal lessons inHindustani classical music from Anjanibai Malpekar (of the Bhendi Bazar Gharana) and later received training from tutors of several gharanas. Her tutors included Anwar Hussain Khan (Agra Gharana), Anjanibai Malpekar(Bhendi Bazar gharana), Sharadchandra Arolkar (Gwalior Gharana) and Balkrishnabuwa Parwatkar.

 While learning the finer points and techniques of the Jaipur gharana from her mother, Amonkar also developed her own personal style, which reflects the influence of other gharanas and was generally regarded as an individual variant of the Jaipur tradition.

Amonkar cultivated a deep understanding of her art, largely through extensive study of the ancient texts on music, and her repertoire was grand in its sweep.

She was known primarily for her skillful singing of classical khayal songs set in the traditional ragas of Hindustani music, but also performed the lighter classical thumri repertoire, bhajan and devotional songs.

Regardless of musical genre, her performances were marked by vitality and grace. She aimed to infuse the emotional appeal of the more popular styles into the comparatively rigid classical tradition.

Besides being a renowned musician, Amonkar was a popular speaker and travelled throughout India giving lectures, most notably on the theory of rasa (feelings, emotions) in music.

In recognition of her contribution to the arts, she received many awards, including the Padma Bhushan (1987) and Padma Vibhushan (2002), two of India’s top civilian honours.

Omkar Dadarkar becomes Guru of ITC Sangeet Research Academy

Shri Omkar Dadarkar, alumnus and former Musician Tutor of ITC Sangeet Research Academy, was promoted to the position of Guru with effect from 1st of July 2017. The decision was jointly taken by the Board of Trustees and a panel of Senior Gurus of the Academy.

This came in recognition of Omkar's musical excellence and remarkable standing as performer and trainer.

We congratulate Omkar on achievement of this new milestone and wish him success in his musical endeavours!

Special Wednesday Recital by Guru Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty

It is not always that the spiral inner staircase of ITC Sangeet Research Academy’s Aldeen Building teems with an eager audience. Nor are two classrooms, in addition to the Auditorium of the Academy, appropriated as annexe listening rooms with LED screens and chairs set up to complement the hall. All these things, and more, had to be done to accommodate the huge audience turn out at the Wednesday Recital on May 31. It was the evening Pt Ajoy Chakrabarty performed in his alma mater where he has now also been a Guru for three decades. He began his performance with a majestic Megh and followed it with delightful Bandishes in Nand. His Pilu in the latter part of the evening was emotionally rich. The evening came to an end with sonorous rendition of ‘Hari Om Tatsat’.

Malhar Festival 2017

The various colours and fragrances of Malhar revealed themselves during the ITC Sangeet Research Academy’s Malhar Festival at GD Birla Sabhagar recently. The event showcased Scholars and Musician Tutors of the Academy alongside virtuoso performers in a spirit of inclusiveness focused on the propagation of our country’s richest traditions of cultural music. The highest point of the festival was reached when Ashwini Bhide Deshpande concluded this edition of the Malhar festival with a rich, textured, erudite and masterly rendition of Miyan ki Malhar. The vilambit bandish ‘Karim naam tero’ which she chose, as she explained, did for Miyan ki Malhar what no other composition could – it brought out the innermost essence of the profoundly expansive Raga. Her treatment was overwhelmingly meditative as she developed the Raga step upon step. An acute sense of structure and design permeated her performance with an aesthetics that is one of her greatest accomplishments. Ashwiniji’s concluding piece, Prateeksha or Bhoopkali, was a study in the exploration of the hauntingly melodic Raga. She invested her presentation of Prateeksha with a mood of melancholy – viraha – that tugged at the heartstrings. The festival had also opened with an exploration of Miyan ki Malhar – in many ways a tribute to a Raga that offers immense scope for development and fulfilment, one that is endless in its possibilities. Waseem Ahmed Khan’s interpretation was laced with the robustness of Agra gharana and its full-bodied romantic appeal. Paramananda Roy’s Surdasi Malhar was enthralling. The flautist charmed the audience with his balanced rendition of yet another famous Raga of the Malhar family. Ranjani and Gayatri, vocalist sisters of the Carnatic tradition, took the opportunity to get drenched in the spirit of the Malhars even though the family of Ragas does not exist in the southern part of the country the way it does in the north. Whether it was in their Gaud Malhar or Amritvarshini or Meera Bhajan in Megh Malhar, they continually and instinctively complemented each other. Their rendition had an unusual freshness and an elemental energy that integrated them, even as the individuality of the two artistes remained a constant source of wonder. The second day opened with a remarkable performance by Alick Sengupta. Mature, sensitive and beautifully ordered, his Gaud Malhar bore the unmistakable stamp of his Guru Ulhas Kashalkar’s Gwalior style even while it put on show Alick’s immense individual talent. The young musician who has great potential concluded with a couple of Mishra Kafi bandishes. Raga Megh, in Abir Hussain’s delicate rendering, was a treat. For the sarodiya who is known for his melodiousness, the solemn and introspective Raga was a significant choice. He did justice to its meends and andolans to make it deeply atmospheric. And it rained throughout. If not in its real manifestation in nature, it did in the minds of the audience who were drenched in the spirit of the Malhar season.

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