With a distinctive yet soothing voice, Papia Sarwar has carved a niche in the hearts of music aficionados in her five-decade career. While still a second year student of the Department of Zoology at the University of Dhaka, Papia Sarwar received a scholarship from the Indian Government to study Rabindra Sangeet at Visva Bharati University, Shantiniketan in 1973 -- the first Bangladeshi to go there after Independence.
The artiste received training in classical music from legendary maestro Pandit Dhrubotara Joshi. Shantidev Ghosh, Subinoy Roy, Kanika Bandyopadhyay and Neelima Sen taught her Rabindra Sangeet and Ashesh Bandyopadhyay oriented her on the tappa genre. Before leaving for Shantiniketan, the singer took music lessons from Atiqul Islam, Waheedul Haq, Sanjida Khatun and Zahidur Rahim at Chhayanaut and Bulbul Academy of Fine Arts (BAFA).
Back in 1996, Papia Sarwar established Geetosudha, a well-known music school in the capital that recently held a programme at the Poet Sufia Kamal Auditorium of Bangladesh National Museum marking its 21st founding anniversary.
“Tagore songs help us find the best way in times of struggle, crisis and pure joy. We, the artistes of Geetosudha, always consider the bard's songs as our way to solemn prayer. I personally sing for inner peace, and to diffuse that peace among others. Following Guru-Shishya Parampara, we are carrying the musical legacy of Tagore forward through our school,” said Papia Sarwar, the director of Geetosudha Rabindra Sangeet Anushilan Kendra.
Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman attended the event as chief guest, while eminent artist Mustafa Monwar and renowned cultural personality AFM Saifud Dowla, also one of the trustees of Chhayanaut, were present as special guests.
The event started off with a dhol recital and lighting of mongolprodip. Artistes of Geetosudha rendered a choral song “Chitto Pipashito Rey”. Apart from their duet and choral presentation of songs, several guest artistes including Bulbul Islam, Mohiuzzaman Chowdhury and Roquaiya Hasina Neely performed solos. Renowned Tagore singer Basabi Datta of West Bengal rendered Rabindra Sangeet incorporating Raga Sangeet. Poet Ruby Rahman recited her self-composed poem while Kazi Madina recited Tagore poems at the programme.