Sangeet Piyasi celebrated the 25th year of its gloriously melodic existence with a grand four-day music festival at Rabindra Sadan (11-14 August). All the days were dedicated to legends like Subodh Ganguly (lyricist-composer and founder of Bangiya Sangeet Parishad), Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan, Pandit Shankar Ghosh and Ustad Ali Ahmed Hussain Khan. A gratitude-filled purse of Rs 25,000 was presented to all eminent musicians who performed to help the organisation in its formative period.

Moreover, table maker Narayan Chandra Das, harmonium maker Gobindo Rith, tanpura maker Binoy Chandra Biswas and sitar maker Jayanta Sengupta, the unseen and unsung personalities of the music world, were also awarded. Scholarships (which continue since 1996) were handed over to several young talented students of violin, tabla, vocal and other disciplines of music. Inspired by these, several sensitive people, including Anindya Mitra (donated Rs 12 lakh to the scholarships trust) and sarod maestro Debojyoti Bose (who instituted a scholarship dedicated to his legendary father Biswanath Bose) came forward.

Known for his passion for spotting new talent, Samar Saha essentially focused on the young maestros and the event&’s resounding success proved that his recipe has takers too! This celebration by Sangeet Piyasi also marked the 60th birthday of its beacon, Pandit Samar Saha, and his 25th wedding anniversary as well! On this auspicious occasion, his disciples and fans felicitated the tabla maestro with a unique gold-made tabla-baayan locket and chain along with other gifts.

Ever since the organisation&’s inception both Saha and his vocalist wife Madhumita Saha remained behind the curtains. This time their followers presented them together on stage as the opening artistes of this mega event. With Samar Saha on the table, flanked by Anirban Chakraborty (harmonium) and Srija (tanpura), Madhumita etched raga Puriya Kalyan (slow ektal, medium teental) with an eye for symmetry and concluded with a sweet bhajan.

Beginning with such warmth, the first evening set the mood for young sarod virtuoso Amaan Ali Khan. His lovingly portrayed raga Shree arrived with emotive alap and skillful jhaptal gatkari, which could do better by highlighting the gait of the tala that sounds best at slow-medium tempo. Supported by Tanmoy Bose (tabla), he also played beautiful compositions in sweet ragas Rageshri (set to adachautal) and Kalawati (medium rupak). Tabla maestro Akram Khan (Ajrara gharana), known for his finesse, enthralled all with his solo teental presentation, with Hirnmay Mitra (harmonium) keeping the naghma.

Shree was the choice of Omkar Dadarkar too, who commenced the second evening with its brilliantly etched raagroop (slow tilwada, medium ektal and fast teental) highlighting all the segments of khayal-singing with dexterity. The young maestro seems to have reinvented himself, which had a telling effect! Suryaksha Deshpande&’s sensitive tabla gave him superb support. He concluded with a Tilang composition. Pradip Palit (harmonium) shadowed him nicely.

Anupama Bhagwat (sitar), supported by Arup Chatterjee (tabla), played Shyam Kalyan (alap-jod-jhala, slow and fast teental gatkaris) with usual expertise and ended with a Pilu dhun.

Next, Ruchira Panda, effectively accompanied by Bivash Sanghai (tabla) and Anirban Chakraborty (harmonium) chose Dhulia Malhar. Her bold and beautiful voice could do better by softening a few bends and corners of the raga which gave little scope to improvise freely and therefore sounded repetitive. A jhoola completed the monsoon-picture. Young tabla virtuoso Shubh Maharaj took the cue and his bold Benares baaj thundered like clouds in his solo teental, deftly supported by Krishna Mukhedkar&’s harmonium.

The third day began with a raga Charukeshi-based pleasing presentation by ITC SRA Instrument Ensemble, featuring Ayan Sengupta (sitar), Ratan Bharati (slide guitar), Abir Hossain (sarod), Sarwar Hussain (sarangi), Paramananda Roy (flute) and Indranil Bhaduri and Bivash Sanghai on the tabla. Essentially dedicated to duets, the day saw vocalists Sanjukta Biswas and Sabina Islam Rahaman, ably supported by Ujjwal Bharati&’s perceptive tabla and Rupashree Bhattacharya&’s singing harmonium give a soulful version of raga Bhimpalasi (slow ektal, medium teental, fast ektal) and a lilting kajri.

Violin brothers Debshankar and Jyotishankar with Parimal Chakraborty&’s tabla gave an inspired version of Saraswati Kalyan (invented by their guru Ustad Amjad Ali Khan) with a gem of a teental composition. A Pilu-based folk dhun completed their recital. The next duo was Prasant Samadhar (vocal) and Debopriya Chatterjee (flute) who tried to present raga Multani. They should have done a lot of homework before venturing out with someone like Subhankar Banerjee (tabla).

However, the very next item, featuring Debashis Bhattacharya (slide guitar) and Sugato Nag (sitar) with Shubhashis Bhattacharya (on base and high pitched tabla), took the evening to melodic heights with the sweet strains of raga Desh (emotive alap, dexterous gatkari). The natural flow of laya-chhanda variants by well-attuned artistes was extremely delighting. Finally, mridangam vidwan S Sekhar and tabla wizard Bickram Ghosh, the guru-shishya duo, enthralled with their thrilling sawal-jawab.

The final day began with the auspicious strains of the shehnai, played by Ahmed Abbas Khan (raga Madhuwanti, alap, slow ektal and fast teental gatkari), well supported by Rupak Mitra on the tabla. He rounded off with a pleasing kajri-dhun. Seasoned sarod exponent Partho Sarothy portrayed a somber Miyan Malhar (elaborate alap) and ecstatic Desh gatkari with Ashok Mukherjee&’s responsive tabla.

Star vocalist Kaushiki Chakraborty gave a vibrant version of seasonal raga Megh (slow ektal, medium jhaptal, drut teental). Sagaciously supported by Sandip Ghosh (tabla) and Rupashree Bhattacharya (harmonium), she balanced emotions and virtuosity in equal measure but her concluding “Sawan ki ritu” (immortalised by the late Shobha Gurtu) could do with a better understanding of the lyrics, as its soul is “Preetam ghar na aaye”. In this regard Sandipan Samajpati&’s treatment of the “Ram-rang” compositions was very refreshing in raga Patadeep and a crisp Hameer. Nicely supported by Soumitrajit Chatterjee (tabla) and Hiranmay Mitra (harmonium), he closed with a thumri.

All the evenings climaxed with thrilling tabla except the final evening that also saw vibrant Kathak (the sole dance item) presented by young celeb dancer Vishal Krishna as the final artiste. He was ably supported by Kushal Krishna (tabla), Pradip Banerjee (vocal) and Sandip Niyogi (sitar). But its mood was created by the exemplary tabla solo presented by maestro Subhankar Banerjee with complex yet thrilling compositions and their elaborations. Young Krishna Mukhedkar&’s sense of rhythm sailed through this stringent test in flying colours while keeping naghma on the harmonium.

 

Jhulan Jatra

The annual Jhulan Jatra Music Festival in the sanctum sanctorum of the residing deity of Ramkanai Adhcary&’s Jhulan Bari was, as usual, spread over five days (14-18 August). The more-than-century-old  inspiring melodic history of the venue, the divine aura of the deity, the impressive arati followed by the “Harir luth” creates a unique ambience that extracts the best out of every performing artiste who happens to offer his music at the feet of Radhavallabh-jiu.

This year the opening evening started with raga Puriya Kalyan played by young and brilliant sarodiya Debanjan Bhattacharya. After the alap, the jod-jhala was accompanied on the pakhawaj by Biplab Bhattacharya. This was followed by dhamar replete with layakari. The second raga, Miyan Malhar, showcased effective aochar and gatkaris (slow teental and fast ektal); this time deftly supported by Biplab&’s tabla.

The second evening&’s artiste was vocalist Kumar Mardur, who commenced with raga Kedar (vilambit jhumra). The broad-faced tabla of Biplab Bhattacharya was in the mode of following the vocals by remaining unobtrusive; but the fast ektal composition and the varied taan patterns inspired him to play tukras and tihais to enhance the beauty of the melodious presentation. Mardur&’s second choice was an emotion-charged Jog-kauns. This was followed by bhajans that enthralled the devotees present.

Renowned sitar virtuoso Rina Srivastava offered her melodic obeisance on the third evening. On the penultimate day, talented young duo Ratan Bharati (slide guitar) and Saket Sahu (violin), supported by Biplab Bhattacharya, played raga Bihag with elaborate, emotive alap, rhythmic jod laced with ecstatic tihais and vociferous gatkaris, punctualted by the tabla&’s solo rounds at every given opportunity. They followed it up with a scintillating version of raga Desh.

For the first time in the long illustrious history of the Jhulan Jatra festival, a Carnatic veena recital, offered by Latha Karthikeyan with the seasoned support of mridangam exponent S Venkataraman, reverberated in the temple on the final day. She began with “Vatapi Ganapatim” (Hamsadwani, adi, Dikshitar) and went on to play another P Sivan kriti (Hamsanandi — Marwa, adi), “Govardhana Girisam” (Hindolam — Malkauns, rupakam, Dikshitar), “Shyamalambike” (Tilang, adi) and a Tillana (Dhanasri, adi). In the second half of the evening well-known thumri exponent Madhumita Chattopadhyay, sensitively aided by Ashok Mukherjee&’s tabla and Pradip Palit&’s harmonium, offered a bouquet of soulful thumri, kajri, jhoola and bhajan. 

 

Coming up

3 Sept: Sangeet Ashram presents Partha Bose (sitar) and Jhumpa Sarkar (thumri); Birla Sabhagar; 6.30 pm.

3 Sept: Shabdam presents N Shankar and Indranil Mallick (mridangam-tabla jugalbandi) and Sanjay Guha (sitar); Vivekananda Hall; 5.30 pm.

4 Sept: Feathers presents Classical Duet Festival for the Youth 2016 featuring a host of young dancers and musicians; Uttam Manch; 5 pm onwards.

5 Sept: The Bickram Ghosh Academy of Performing Arts celebrates Teachers’ Day through the launch of its new branch; Amrolly Banquet, 185, Jessore Road (near Arsalan restaurant close to the crossing of Bangur Avenue and Jessore Road); 6 pm.