It was a four-day (September 21-24) musical extravaganza that offered an array of Indian classical music coupled with the performance of Bangla songs by four renowned Bangladeshi artistes -- Rezwana Chowdhury Bannya, Laisa Ahmed Lisa, Shama Rahman and Luva Nahid Choudhury. They predominantly performed Panchokabi 'r Gaan (songs of the five preeminent Bengali poets).
The maiden South Asian Music Festival concluded on September 24 on a high note at MasterCard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. The festival had living legends like Pt. Shivkumar Sharma (Santoor), Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia (Bansuri), Pt. Birju Maharaj (Kathak) and Dr. L Subramaniam (Carnatic Violin) to pour their musical blessings.
Renowned Carnatic vocalist Vidushi Bombay Jayashri with noted and promising maestros like Ustad Shujaat Khan (Sitar and Vocal), Kaushiki Chakraborty (Vocal), Sawani Shende (Vocal), Niladri Kumar (Sitar) and Afghan born and USA based instrumentalist Homayoun Sakhi (Rabab) also performed at the festival.
Singaporean audience especially music connoisseurs from Bangladeshi and Indian communities had never experienced such a grand scale classical musical festival along with the performances of Bangla songs. They will fondly remember several breathtaking performances by the stalwarts. Ojas Adhiya, Pt. Vijay Ghate and Pt. Tanmoy Bose on tabla fantastically accompanied most of the performances while Bangladeshi instrumentalists Asit Biswas on esraj, Iftakhar Alam Prodhan on tabla, Monowar Hossain Tutul on guitar, Kamol Khalid on harmonium and Binod on keyboard accompanied performances by the Bangladeshi artistes.
On the concluding day, Ustad Shujaat Khan, son of legendary sitar player Ustad Vilayat Khan, set off the musical flight. The sitarist presented a sweet evening Raga Shyam Kalyan on teentaal. Gripping the precise ragdari, he masterfully showcased various parts like alap, jod, jhala, gaul and tehai of the recital. He played rather an extremely speedy jhala followed by an incredible tehai.
Internationally acclaimed Bangladeshi Tagore exponent Rezwana Chowdhury Bannya was mellifluous in her rendition of Rabindra Sangeet. The artiste made her entire performance evocative, sharing different anecdotes of Tagore compositions she performed at the event. She started off with a devotional Bhairavi song “O Okuler Kul”. Another Bhairavi genre “Amar Raat Pohalo”, illustrating the connotations of Agomony of autumn, followed. Her repertoire included a kirttan-ang song “Majhe Majhe Tobo Dekha Pai”, a dhrupad inspired Pooja Parjaya song “Kaar Milono Chao Birohi”, a devotional tarana “Shukhoheen Nishidin”, a love song “Ei Udashi Hawar Poth-e Poth-e” and a baitalik song “Emono Din-e Taar-e Bola Jaye”.
Vidushi Bombay Jayashri beautifully performed Shanmukhapriya, a rāgam of Carnatic music. She later presented a romantic thillana set on rāgam Behag. One of the finest Carnatic vocalists, Jayashri has had such a musical prowess that can stun music lovers. She wove a garland of melodies with speedy yet melodious musical phraseology. The ragdari that she showcased on the evening is a rarity.
Legendary Indian violinist Dr. L Subramaniam started off his recital with a Varnam based on Raga Kanada and Adi Tala. He played a mind-blowing game of meend and quickly changing melodies on his violin. The living legend wrapped up the festival with an improvisational presentation of a set on a folk themed Raga Piloo.
Bangladeshi event management company “Blues Communications” in association with Perfect Harmony Global organised the festival, presented by IFIC Bank. Channel i was the broadcast partner.