Tranquil Rhythms and Wholesomeness Set the Mood of Sawai’s Mehfil!

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December 17: As the glorious Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav’s 69th Edition ticks off its last day at the Maharashtriya Mandal Krida Sankul, Mukund Nagar today, the inaugural sessions saw a noted vocalist and a debut artist’s soul-stirring performances.

The first session of the final day began with the renditions of Bharat Ratna Bhimsen Joshi’s son, Shrinivas Joshi. “This year, with the thought of presenting something different than usual, I will be performing compositions that my father Pt. Bhimsen Joshi sung, but their roots are not of the Kirana Gharana,” said Shrinivas Joshi.

He started with a Bandish – ‘Sundar Kanchan Barse’ in Raag Shuddha Sarang made famous by Pt. Shivrambuva Vaze of the Gwalior Gharana. Next, he performed a Bandish ‘Ab Mori Baat’ in Teentaal, followed by a Natyasangeet ‘Prem Seva Sharan’ in Jhaptaal. This Natyasangeet was sung many times by Ustad Abdul Karim Khan and Bharat Ratna Pt. Bhimsen Joshi but is rarely heard these days. He concluded his performance with a Bhajan ‘Tum Bin Mori Kaun Khabar Li.’ Shrinivas Joshi was accompanied by Avinash Dighe on Harmonium, Pandurang Pawar on Tabla, Vaishali Kuber and Neeta Dixit on Tanpura, and Mauli Takalkar on Taal and Viraj Joshi for Vocals.

The second session started with Agra Gharana’s exponent and the disciple of Pt. Babanrao Haldankar, Dr Pournima Dhumale’s enlightening renditions. Her Guru Maa Usha Haldankar and Guru Pt. Vivek Joshi were also present on the occasion. She started with Agra Gharana’s most famous Raag Barwa with the traditional “Nom-Tom.”. She then picked up the pace with a Madhya Laya Ektaal Bandish followed by a composition ‘Ayo Re Saavan Maas’ of Ustad Khadim Hussain Khan in Teentaal. She then performed a Bandish ‘Bandha Sama’ in Raag Khat, which is said to be a mixture of six different Ragas. Her concluding performance included a Bandish ki Thumri ‘Na Manungi Unke Manaye Bina’ in Raag Khamaj. She was accompanied by Suyog Kundalkar on Harmonium, Sanjay Deshpande on Tabla, Kirti Kasture and Gauri Patil on Tanpura.

In the third session of the fifth day, Pt. Suhas Vyas paid tribute to his father and Guru Pt. C. R Vyas to mark his birth centenary year by presenting some of his compositions. With a Vilambit Ektaal Bandish ‘Sab Mil Gaaye’ in Raag Dhani, Pt. Suhas Byas initiated his performance. He then performed Bandishes like ‘Sun Le Araj Mori’ in Jhaptaal and ‘Saanjh Ki Ber’ in Taal Teental, both in Raag Shree. He concluded with a highlighting Bhajan of Sant Chokhoba ‘Johar Maybap Johar’ in Bhajani Taal. He was accompanied by Bharat Kamat on Tabla, Shrinivas Acharya on Harmonium, Kedar Kelkar on Tanpura, Aditya Vyas for Vocals and Dnyanraj Mauli Awasekar.

The fourth performance was by ‘Atma Ensemble’ who embodied the universal language of music. Renowned Carnatic music artist Aishwarya Venkatraman and associates began with a soul-stirring performance ‘Pallavi’ in Raag Shankara Bharanam in a 19 beat (matra) Taal. The Taal is an original composition of Shankarji tuned into 19 beats by Aishwarya’s father and Guru Vinod Venkataraman. Lightheartedly he called the Taal -Covid 19 Taal to remind us of all of the music legends that Covid 19 took away from us. To this Taal, Aishwarya played the Raag in two rounds and A. V Krishnan on Ghatam demonstrated how to count the Taal in two halves, the Purvangam with 10.5 beats and the Uttarangam in 8.5 beats (matras). They concluded with a special performance in Deergh Shankara Bharanam in dadra. (Three cycle note)

‘Atma Ensemble’ is a band of ‘Alliance for Tradition in Musical Arts’ which is devoted to the passionate expression of the legacy of our rich Hindustani classical music and explores the soul of other musical traditions and cultures through collaborations.

Aishwarya Venkatraman as the lead violinist who effortlessly executed exceptional tonal finesse was accompanied by Mridangam Percussionist and her Guru Vinod Venkataraman, Paul Livingstone on Fretless Guitar, Drummer Ray Belli, Vinayak Koli on Tanpure and A V Krishnan on Ghatam.

Aishwarya, the child prodigy is now one of the most virtuosic interpreters of South Indian music in the world. She has the distinction of being the youngest graduate from Berklee School of Music with a B.A. in Jazz Performance. She also earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology at Stanford University. Whilst continuing her musical education and public performances, Aishwarya continued to Baylor College and earned an M.D in neuroscience.