Hindustani Vocal Recital by Kalyani Joshi at SVT

Hindustani Vocal Recital by Kalyani Joshi
July 3rd, 2019 at iTeach Swargiya Vithal Tupe School, Hadapsar, Pune
An account by Namrata Shah

It was already 9:10 a.m. when I reached iTeach Vithal Tupe School, where a Hindustani vocal recital organized by Baithak Foundation was to take place. Some school kids were already in the classroom, curiously looking at the musical instruments getting arranged and tuned. Many more students joined in soon and within no time, the classroom was filled with chatter of around 35-40 kids as they eagerly waited for the recital to begin.

It was the first time the students were getting introduced to Indian Classical Music at the School and it also happened to be the first performance in front of such an audience for Kalyani Pulliwar – Joshi. However she was accompanied by Saumitra Kshirsagar on harmonium and Abhijeet Bartakke on Tabla, both well-adapted to such concert settings.

Besides the students, there were some adult attendees too, who sat there with their cameras and notebooks ready, so they could record videos and take notes during the session.

Dakshayani from Baithak Foundation asked the school kids whether they had ever heard about Indian classical music or Hindustani Shastriya Sangeet. She then went on to explain in simple words what Hindustani classical music is before introducing the main artist, Kalyani Joshi, a disciple of the late Smt. Veena Sahasrabuddhe. She also introduced Saumitra Kshirsagar and Abhijeet Bartakke, who were there to provide accompaniment to Kalyani’s vocal on Harmonium and Tabla, respectively. Before beginning the recital, Dakshayani also reminded the attendees of the rules to be followed by them to ensure that there would be complete silence during the recital and that the attendees would respect the artists.

Kalyani started the recital with her rendition of raag Bibhas, which is a morning raag. She started with a vilambit khayal in Tilwada. As she expertly improvised and expanded the raag by weaving together the notes to form aalaaps and taans, I saw mixed reactions from students. While a few of them got a little restless after some time perhaps due to the repetition of words in the khayal or due to the slow tempo in which vilambit khayal is sung, others were completely engrossed in the soulful rendition. Kalyani ended the rendition of raag Bibhas with a bandish in drut Ektaal, which the attendees seemed to enjoy a lot. Kalyani was ably supported by Saumitra and Abhijeet, who demonstrated their proficiency on the harmonium and tabla. 

It was then time for the question and answer session. Dakshayani asked the students how they felt at the end of the rendition of the raag, to which some students responded saying that they felt meditative and calm. The attendees then asked questions about some concepts of classical music, such as“what is a raag?”, “why is Bibhas sung in morning?”, “what is alaap?”, “what is the difference between alaap and taan?” and so on. My favorite part of the whole session was when Kalyani sang the aroha and avaroha of raag Bibhas, and asked all of us to sing after her. She also sang some alankars and we all followed her. This was when every single person in the classroom was the most attentive and participated with absolute keenness in the entire exercise. 

At the end, when we were wrapping up, one of the girls sitting in the last row came to me with curious expressions and asked me some question about the camera – her attempt to break the ice, I guess. When I smiled at her and asked her if she liked the session,she said she loved it and added that her father listens to only classical music every day and that is how she developed interest in it. I would have loved to converse with her a little more to know what she listened to and how much of it she understood, but it was time for her next class and also time for me to leave the place.

I remember, as a child, I found classical music a bit boring and difficult to understand though I was always interested in music in general. I am sure there are many others like me who think the same. It is only when one makes the extra effort to go beyond bookish definitions to explain concepts in an easy and relatable way that things become interesting and appreciable. Organizing recitals and having interactive sessions for school children is a great initiative by Baithak Foundation to introduce classical music to them and can go a long way in spreading the love for and some basic understanding of this ancient art form. 

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