The sublime journey of pristine melody that began with last year's Bengal ITC-SRA Classical Music Festival, has attracted a human sea of enthusiasts this time making the festival venue - Dhaka's Army Stadium - a heaven of raga music. The Dhaka audience showed once again their passion for classical music.
Eminent political personality Dr. Gauher Rizvi inaugurated the third night (November 30) of the festival dedicated to the memory of pioneering Bangladeshi dancer Bulbul Chowdhury. Editor and publisher of The Daily Star, Mahfuz Anam and Managing director and CEO of BRAC Bank, Syed Mahbubur Rahman graced the occasion as special guests. Apart from the guests, Bengal Foundation Chairman Abul Khair and Executive Director of ITC-SRA Ravi Mathur addressed the gathered audience. He specially thanked the director general of Bengal Foundation Luva Nahid Choudhury for successfully organising the festival. Mahfuz Anam also thanked the Dhaka audience for their overwhelming attendance at the festival amid the ongoing political turmoil.
The penultimate night of Bengal Classical Music Festival 2013 began with an immaculate sarod rendition by noted Bangladeshi artiste Rajrupa Chowdhury. The artiste started off her performance with an alap based on Raga “Shyam Kalyan,” an opening tribute to the musical evening. The artiste styled different rhythmic jod breaking down the conventional recital. Pandit Yogesh Shamshi followed Rajrupa's perfornace with tisra (3/3) and misra (3/2/2) jathi rhythms that superbly tuned at the heart strings of thousands classical music connoisseurs. Her skillful alap and fast gamaki jod performance in lower octave evoked the performance of an international standard. To the utter surprise of connoisseurs, Rajrupa started playing vilambit teentaal bandish on Raga “Rageshree”.
Vocalist Kumar Mardur, the next artiste to take stage performed Raga “Shudh Kalyan”. Ashoke Mukherjee on tabla, Rupashree Bhattacharjee on harmonium and Sarwar Hossain on sarangi accompanied the talented vocalist. The artiste set off his vilambit bandish “Tuma Bina Kaun” performance on vilambit ektaal while his drut bandish on teentaal was “Monder Bajo Bajo Rey”. His speedy and crystal-clear akar taan together with a well-balanced tempo were almost hypnotic. He ended his presentation with a Kabir bhajan “Mann Phoola Peer-e-Jagat Mein” on kaharba.
Falling in love with the heritage and untainted beauty of Bangladesh, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma opened his performance with Raga “Jhinjhoti”. The legend of santoor recited the raga in a way that portrayed the aesthetic beauty of Bengal including idyllic landscape, traditional lifestyle and festivities coupled with folk elements of baul, bhatiali, jari sari, boat, river, fish, food, fruits, flowers, greenery, birds and the warmth of an emotionally charged nation.
Generating a musical phraseology in alap ang, Pandit Shivkumar's performance effortlessly stirred the hearts of Bangladeshi audience. He then went on to play a soft-romantic dhun, set mainly on Mishra Kaushik Dhwani.
Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri started his part with performing the basic theka of teentaal, also known as palta theca developed in Lucknow gharana. He played a rela (dhene ghene), originally composed by Ustad Wajed Hussain Khan. Later, he performed a dhere dhere bol-related rela, a calculated composition called 'row', a famous composition of Lucknow baaj. The maestro also presented a few old gaut, originally composed by a Khalifa of Lucknow gharana, Ustad Abid Hussain Khan; a gopuchh composition, different chakradar, aakal gaut, a poetic composition along with some experimental compositions of his gharana. Sarangi artiste Allarakkha Kalavant was on sat sangat, playing a charming Raga “Champakali”.
Bangladeshi artiste Reenat Fauzia beautifully presented her recital set on a Carnatic Raga “Kirwani” while Vidushi Padma Talwalkar performed Raga “Jogkauns” at the festival. Her son Satyajit Talwalkar on tabla, daughter Rasika on vocal support and Gourab Chattopadhyay on harmonium accompanied the artiste. The artiste's polished personality and harmonious rendition of murki, pukar, akar taan, vilambit teentaal bandish “E Sughara Bara Payo” and madhyalaya teentaal bandish “Peer Parayi Janee Nehi” of the raga was warmly greeted by the audience. A Tilak Kamod tarana and a Mira bhajan “Mharo Pranam Banke Biharijee” by the artiste followed.
The lone dhrupad artiste of the festival, Pandit Uday Bhawalkar fashioned a musical high performing gamaki alap and meend simultaneously touching all the three octaves along with presenting bolbut, bahelawa, khatka, murki and tehai with his wonderfully balanced vocal. He also rendered an oldest traditional dhrupad bandish “Shadaj, Rishav, Madhyam, Pancham…” on Choutaal.
The final gift for the audience was the divine flute recital by the "Krishna" of our time, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia. Pandit Samar Saha (tabla), Pandit Bhawani Shankar (pakhawaj) and Vivek Sonar (flute) accompanied the legend. The flute maestro cordially applauded the presence of huge audience even at the dead of night. The artiste first performed Raga “Prabhateshwari,” depicting an emotive tale of old parents who transferred their priceless legacy of music to their children with full of infinite blessings without expecting anything from them. He poured pathos in the hearts of audience through his recital. The Pandit also performed Raga “Lalit” following the same way and ended his performance with a musical prayer in the morning, playing a Bangladeshi traditional kirtan dhun. The Dhaka audience reciprocated the masterful act with a standing ovation.
As the Pandit left the stage, more than a few eyes in the audience glistened with joy in the early morning sun, a tribute to another night of masterful performances.
Aloke Kumar Sen is a Bangladeshi classical vocalist and Zahangir Alom is his disciple.