Music in its purest form | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 14, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 14, 2012

Music in its purest form

Bengal ITC SRA Classical Music Fest at National Museum

Connecting with the past: Girija Devi in her element. Photo: Mumit M.

The two-day Bengal ITC SRA Classical Music Festival began on February 12 at the main auditorium of Bangladesh National Museum. Accomplished artistes from Kolkata ITC Sangeet Research Academy (SRA), including Padma Bhushan Vidushi Girija Devi, performed both classical vocal and instrumental music on the inaugural day of the festival.
In a bid to nurture and popularise the heritage of classical music in Bangladesh, Bengal Foundation with ITC SRA organised the festival.
Director general of Bengal Foundation, Luva Nahid Chowdhury, and executive director of ITC SRA, Kolkata Ravi Mathur, spoke at the programme.
“Bengal Foundation and ITC SRA have jointly taken the initiative to encourage accomplished artistes of this region to perform, offer proper lessons to promising and talented artistes, maintain guru-shisya parampara and scout for and nourish new talents,” said Luva Nahid Chowdhury.
Noted Bangladeshi Tagore artistes -- Mohiuzzaman Chowdhury, Fahim Hossain Chowdhury, Bulbul Islam, Shama Rahman, Mita Haque and Audity Mohsin set off the programme lending their voices to the songs “O Amar Desh-er Mati” and “Byartho Praner Aborjona”.
Sameehan U. Kashalkar, the son and disciple of renowned vocalist, Pandit Ulhas N. Kashalkar, began the festival by performing vocal music set on Raga Marwa. Tabla artiste Sanjay Adhikari accompanied him on “vilambit tiluara” and “madhyalaya teentaal”. Sarwar Hussain simultaneously presented the splendour of the raga on sarangi. Sameehan showcased several vocal variations in khayal. The artiste followed this up with a vibrant tarana performance.
Next, sarod artiste Abir Hossain presented a very melodious Raga Jhinjhoti on sarod. The artiste went on with a slow alaap, almost like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. As the artiste strummed the strings of his sarod it seemed to mingle with the melody of the raga with the stunning twilight glow.
Sanjay Adhikari accompanied him during the bistar, jor, jhala and tehai performance on tabla. Exquisite laykari on tabla with awe-inspiring bistar on sarod captivated the audience. Music connoisseurs were on a higher realm when Abir fashioned a symphony of melody. Meanwhile a classical rainbow of notes and taan seemed to produce time honoured folk melody. A talented Abir, hailing from a musical family of Burdwan, Paschimbanga, started taking lessons at 12 from sarod maestro Pandit Buddhadev Das Gupta and later from Pandit Ajoy Chakrobarty.
The highlight of the evening was vocal music performance by Vidushi Girija Devi, the prima donna of the Banaras and Senia tradition, who has dedicated her life to the cause of Hindustani classical vocal music for over five decades at the highest level of excellence. The audience gave her a standing ovation. The octogenarian maestro is renowned for her astounding aptitude in all the vocal forms -- khayal, thumri, dadra, tappa, kajri, hori, jhulan, chaiti and bhajan. She has taken part in immensely successful jugalbandi with the late Shobha Gurtu and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. She has been heaped with awards and accolades, including the Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and the ITC Award. She has been a guru at the ITC SRA since its inception. Born in Banaras (1929), she was initiated into music at the tender age of five under the tutelage of Pandit Sarju Prasad Mishra. Her training period lasted for ten years until her guru's death. She later continued her training with Pandit Chandra Mishra.
Girija Devi started with a bandish "Paiya Torey Lagu" of "Yamankalyan". Renowned tabla artiste Gopal Mishra accompanied the performance on vilambit ektaal and teen taal. Talented vocalist Sucheta Ganguly rendered side vocal while playing tanpura with Devi.
The witty artiste also told stories about the old bandishes she learnt prior to performing those at the festival. She mentioned several names including Mohammed Shah, the then Jahanpur Nabab. She produced humour wishing to compete with younger Sucheta in presenting the bandish.
A tappa set on raga "Kafi" was next. The bandish "Mian Najre Nehi Atta" of the genre belonged to Punjabi language. Devi then seized the camouflage of Radha and presented a mellifluous thumri on "Khamaj". The bandish "Itni Araj Mori Maanley" nicely depicted feminine plea.
Ushering in Spring, the season of love, colours and fantasy, the seasoned singer performed a Brindabani Hori, based on raga "Pilu". The bandish was "Chalo Goiyan Aaj Khelu Holi". And last but not the least, the maestro performed one of her favourites, a dadra on Mishra Bhairavi.
Eminent artiste Jyoti Guho on harmonium, Sarwar Hussain on sarangi and Bangladeshi artiste Bizon Chandra Mistry on tanpura also accompanied the messenger of classical music.
Bengal Foundation has been nurturing the arts and culture in Bangladesh for the last 22 years while ITC SRA has been nurturing the Guru-Shishya tradition since its inception in1977.

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