Young musicians are also donning up the role of organisers quite effectively these days and that ensures good music in most cases. And on this count, Sur Festival fit the bill with flying colours. Two young musicians Debapriya Adhikary and Samanway Sarkar have been presenting this annual soiree in a commendable professional manner. Their venerated Guruma (Padma Vibhushan) Girija Devi blessed them with her memorable renditions of raga jogkauns, pilu thumri (Kaise likhu patiyan), dadra (Kahanwa mano) and a soul stirring Babul mora as the final artiste of the festival.
Essentially focused on star performers, Sur’s two-day spread was showcased at Mohor Kunja’s lush green lawns. Sarod maestro Tejendra Narayan Majumdar, the last performer on the first evening, played an elaborate alap in raga kedar with emotional phrases beautifully linked with melodious meends. Unlike his cool self, tabla maestro Anindo Chatterjee displayed unusual assertiveness during gatkari to churn out inspiring music. Earlier, much-awarded young vocalist Pritam Bhattacharya, a disciple of Pandit Jasraj, commenced the evening with raga shuddh barari. He is blessed with a rich, melodious voice and fair amount of expressiveness but could do better by editing his long recital and removing quite a few repetitive tans at different tempos.
The next evening began with vibrant kathak by Samraggi Ghosh who trained with several gurus of the Lucknow and Jaipur Gharana. Ably supported by Ustad Sabir Khan (tabla), Asif Khan (bol-padhant), Sudakshina Manna (vocal), Sunanda Mukherjee (sarod) and Unmesh Mishra (sarengi), she began with Shiv Vandana (Jai jai Shiv Shankar) and teental with tukra, ginti, gat and paran.
Carnatic vocalist and Padma Bhushan recipient Sudha Raghunathan, with N Skandasubramaniam (mridangam), P Ramdas (violin) and K Raman (morsing), began with an invocation to Lord Ganesa in raga chamaram (also known as Shamukhapriya) and cast her spell with a beautiful Muthuswamy Dikshitar kriti dedicated to Shiva (Hindolam, Khanda Chapu, Tamil “Nambi Kettavarai”)
and the main piece (Kalyani, Aditala, Tyagaraja’s “Konera neelakarani”) replete with alapana, neraval, swara prastara and thrilling tani. She closed with a Shiva stuti Bho sambho shivasambho in raga revathi.
Unlike Sur, the day-long soiree by Mangalacharana, under the dedicated stewardship of musician couple Apurba and Indrani Mukherjee, paid melodic tributes to the late tabla maestro and Guru, Pandit Shankar Ghosh by focusing on some underrated but excellent performers and intelligently added the glamour quotient at several stages of the day’s proceedings. The grand finale came in the form of Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty (vocal) with Abhijit Banerjee (tabla), Gourab Chatterjee (harmonium) and Kaustubh Kanti Ganguli (vocal and tanpura support) at Rabindra Sadan. The maestro not only sang a soul-stirring raga abhogi (Kase kahoon man ki bitha, Charan dhar aaye and Lagan mori laagi) and the divine Hari Om Tatsat, but also donated a cheque of Rs 50,000 to the organisation as a token of appreciation for its commendable musical endeavour coupled with social services.
Earlier, the day commenced with the felicitation of elderly tabla maestros Chandrabhan Sreesundar and Tarak Saha, who have bowed out of the active concert scene. Tabla makers Shyamal and Mukto Das were felicitated by Bickram Ghosh, who appreciated the grit of the “soldiers” trained by his father, Pandit Shankar Ghosh, and their efforts to protect and propagate Indian classical music.
The soiree began with Shankar-Dhwani, a tabla ensemble named after Shankar Ghosh, featuring a bunch of his brilliant students. From both ends Sanatan Goswami and Vijay Mishra kept the naghma on the harmonium and sarangi respectively. Well balanced with group and solo pieces, it was conceptualised, scripted and presented by Amar Seth and Apurba Mukherjee (disciples of the legendary guru). Later, there was a solo recital by eminent tabla maestro Parimal Chakraborty as well. A senior disciple of Shankar Ghosh, he offered several compositions of his guru while playing teental with exemplary finesse while Goswami held on to the counts through naghma on the harmonium.
Well-known Gwalior gharana exponent Ram Shankar, a worthy disciple of Pandit Ram Ashray Jha, sang khayals that were woven in a theme describing Hara-Parvati-Vivaha, as written in the Ramcharitmanas.
Compositions of his vaggeyakar guru in raga saraswati sarang that blends shuddh sarang of noon and saraswati of evening were well-executed by him. He too, apparently, has a good command over music and literature and that pulled this unique concept through with telling effect. Nicely assisted by Ashok Dutta (tabla) and Hiranmay Mitra (harmonium) he concluded with a Kafi tappa and Pilu thumri. Two home-grown vocalists Shirin Sengupta (khayal, raga poorva; Yaman tarana in tappa anga) and Suchisri Ray (dadra, chaiti, hori) were very impressive in their respective genres. While the first was accompanied by Subrato Gupta’s tabla; the latter was in the safe custody of Asif Khan’s inspired tabla. Debashish Adhikary’s harmonium followed both with élan.
A sarod-sitar duet by Joydeep Ghosh and Sugato Nag was another attraction for connoisseurs. While Nag remained glued to the traditional form of the raga patadeep, Ghosh ventured to show several other possibilities by exploiting the beautiful melody. Ably aided by Soumen Sarkar and Ujjwal Bharati, they also enjoyed playing a lilting pilu.
Violinist Atul Upadhye began with charukeshi-based alap-jod-jhala and was supported by Apurba Mukherjee’s tabla, played teental gatkaris in raga madhuwanti of the komal nishad variety (which appeared only twice!). The concluding majh khamaj (kaharwa) remained in light mood, blended several melodies and ended with the famous tune of Rama ratan dhan payo.
In Memoriam Sitar virtuoso Mita Nag enthralled with her powerful recital when Dhrupadi paid warm melodic tributes to the late dhrupad exponent Barna Maitra at Triguna Sen Hall (JU campus). Maitra followed the Bishnupur-style of dhrupad vocalism. In keeping with the mood, Nag, an eminent representative of this Hindustani classical Gharana from Bengal, decided to play alap-jod in a traditional surbahar-anga. The sombre mood of raga malkauns was at its best when the reposeful, heavy meends and the powerful vertical stretches on one fret to cover several notes in one flow, etched its character — especially in the lower registers. The jod segment, replete with heavy gamaks and strong bols, invited Apurbalal Manna’s pakhawaj as an accompanist and both displayed delightful compatibility while playing with the rhythmic patterns. That continued till the jhala.
For the slow teental gatkari, Nag chose kaushiki kanada, which is a raga very close to malkauns except for the pancham. Highly ornate instrumentalism and superb taankari along with Ashoke Mukherjee’s tabla offering suitable replies
remained the hallmark of this segment. Another beautiful gat-bandish set to a fast teental, with delicate andolan-based komal gandhar (in the upper octave) in the mukhda, came with varied short, crisp or long taans and tihais. The concluding jhala reverberated with the inspired playing of the trio.
Earlier the evening began with the Barna Maitra Memorial lecture by Abhishek Basu who gave an enlightening account of the Bhakti Movement and its impact on kirtan and dhrupad. This was followed by dhrupad-kirtan exponent Prakriti Dutta’s recital, supported by Apurbalal Manna (pakhawaj), Maheshwar Saha (srikhol), Ashim Sarkar (flute) and Tushar Sardar (kartal).
The 73rd foundation day of Sri Guruguha Gana Vidyalaya was celebrated at Birla Academy by Guruguha Sangeeth Sammelan featuring Revathi Sadasivam, a front ranking veena exponent from Bangalore. Hailing from the guru shishya parampara of Muthuswamy Dikshitar, she follows the rich tradition of Tanjavur style. She commenced with the rare Natai Varnam composed by Parameshwara Bhagawatar and Vinayaka ninnuvina as an invocation to Lord Ganesha. Her neat rendering of kritis in ragas neetimati, nalinakanti set the mood and she settled down with an elaborate Sankarabharanam as a prelude to Dikshitar’s Akshaya-linga-vibho. S Aravind (mridangam) played a scintillating tani in misrachapu tala.
The baithak at Bhawanipur Sangeet Sammilani, organised by Sur Shravan, began with the vocal recital of Monica Shah from Ahmedabad. Initially groomed by Pandit Rasiklal Andharia, she is training with Girija Devi and Pradipta Ganguly. Supported by Tarun Roy (tabla) and Amitabha Bhattacharya, she sang ragas puria kalyan, kalavardhini (kalavati with komal gandhar) and thumris in kirwani and kafi. The second half of the evening saw young table virtuoso Arindam Chkraborty going solo, displaying commendable clarity in strokes and rhythm sense. His uncle, renowned harmonium player Sanatan Goswami chose to accompany on the xylophone — it was a pleasant surprise.