Pioneered by Ustad Rashid Khan, the Fifth Note Global Centre of Excellence is making waves as an initiative of Shakhri Begum Memorial Trust. It provides a stage to every aspiring musician worth their salt in its evening darbar every Friday.

On special occasions this organisation presents special musical evenings. “Rang — Splash of Colour” was one such event, curated by Suha Khan. It celebrated a musical Holi with élan.

The warm welcome with colours at the entry of the sprawling lawns of Khan’s residence, the well decorated stage at the far end with impeccable light and sound planning, and the seating arrangement surrounded by plants and trees wearing strings of illuminated colourful bulbs — all wore a happy look of festivity.

In the presence of eminent musicians led by Khan, the host, young students of the Rashid Khan Academy commenced the evening’s proceedings by burning Holika to symbolically mark the victory of good over evil.

The musical celebration began with the sarod recital of renowned musician-musicologist Anindya Banerjee, who is the dean (music) of the Rashid Khan Academy. Accompanied by young tabla virtuoso Sourabh Goho, he played a short version of raga Hindol Hem.

Omkar Dadarkar with Hindole Majumdar and Anirban Chakraborty
Omkar Dadarkar with Hindole Majumdar and Anirban Chakraborty

 

Next, was a delightful thumri ensemble, presented by three groups of young students groomed under Avantika Chakraborty who, along with Bilal Khan (tabla), accompanied them on the harmonium and also offered vocal lead. According to Rashid Khan, although thumri is not meant for children, such exposure to different genres enriches their classical training. It did seem to add colour to their rendition.

Kathak danseuse Rutuja Soman, the Academy’s newly-appointed dean of the dance department, gave an enchanting presentation of her art. Beginning with Ganesh Vandana, she chose Neel-taal of seven and a half beats to show complex layakari — the forte of her Jaipur Gharana.

The ginti, paran, chakradhar et al sparkled through her neat footwork and graceful movements. She concluded with Sati-katha, a kavitta composed by Lacchu Maharaj. Soman executed all the characters very effectively before presenting a forceful tandava.

Young classical Spanish guitar exponent Shahnawaz Ahmed Khan, son-disciple of Ustad Aijaz Ahmed Khan, turned the mood towards the romantic character of raga Bihag. Sporting the guitar in the manner of sitar/sarod, he infused a lot of lighter nuances of khayal vocalism in his brief alap.

Ably supported by Rohen Bose on the tabla he played medium-paced jhaptal gatkari before teental, replete with two gat compositions based on two khayals, Lat uljhi suljha ja and Ali ri albeli. His sapat (ekhara) taans were very good but the arrival on sam needs more polish.

Rujuta Soman (Kathak)

 

Finally, a steadily rising disciple of thumri queen Girija Devi, Piu Mukherjee regaled listeners with her Hori-centric renditions, superbly supported by a young team having Emon Sarkar (tabla) and Ahmed Ali (harmonium).

While singing a Kafi thumri the vocalist focused on the emotive appeal of varied bol-banav and rhythmic play came to the fore during laggi and taan-encrusted tappa. Her rapport with the audience was remarkable.

Loving homage

Suromurchhana had begun its journey with the blessings of Vidushi Malabika Kanan several years ago in Kolkata. The organisation has its branches also in New York and New Jersey now, under the leadership of vocalist Sanjoy Banerjee, a worthy disciple of Pandit A Kanan and Malabika Kanan. The Kolkata chapter organised a concert in memory of the legendary musician couple at Uttam Manch.

Abantika Chakraborty (harmonium and vocal) and Bilal Khan (Tabla) with the students.
Abantika Chakraborty (harmonium and vocal) and Bilal Khan (Tabla) with the students.

 

The main attraction of the event was a vocal recital by Omkar Dadarkar, one of the rising vocalists of his generation, groomed as an ITC SRA scholar under the guidance of Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar. Dadarkar’s artistry and teaching abilities has established him as a young Guru with his alma mater now, where he had enjoyed the loving care of the Kanans.

He paid tributes to them with an emotionally charged rendition of raga Gavati, his mellifluous voice traversing the octaves effortlessly. Ably supported by Hindole Majumdar (tabla) and Anirban Chakraborty (harmonium), Dadarkar closed with an enthralling bhajan.

The last item of the evening was a captivating recital by classical slide guitar maestro Debasish Bhattacharya with veteran tabla player Samir Chatterjee as his associate. He chose raga Bihag as the medium of his music-making and began with a divine alap on his modified Chaturangui that sounded like veena in the lower depths of the madhya and mandra octaves.

Shahnawaz Ahmed (Guitar) with Rohen Bose (Tabla)
Shahnawaz Ahmed (Guitar) with Rohen Bose (Tabla)

 

The jod came out of the meditative mood to strike a delightful dialogue with the rhythmic patterns. His gatkaris in medium jhaptal and fast teental, supported by the tuneful and sweet strokes of the tabla was enjoyed by a lot of stalwarts of Kolkata’s musical fraternity and a good number of listeners.

The event, however, started with a group recital of tiny students, groomed and directed by Suromurchhana faculty member Namami Karmakar and ably supported by Rupak Mitra on the tabla. They sang a teental madhyalaya khayal composition in raga Marubihag followed by a bhajan. Their neat performance created the desired mood.