Sarangi Concert by Yuji Nakagawa
July 15, 2019 at TMCP Center, Ganga Legend, Bavdhan, Pune
A Sarangi concert by Yuji Nakagawa! I was curious – the primary reason of my curiosity was the name of the artist. A Japanese artist playing Hindustani classical music on an instrument that seemed quite an unusual choice! How did he end up learning Hindustani classical music? Why did he choose Sarangi? I was curious to know. A Google search for his name showed up results stating that this Japanese-born artist had learned Sarangi under the tutelage of the renowned Sarangi maestro Pandit Dhruba Ghosh. He had learned in the traditional “guru-shishya parampara” for 12 years. There was no way I was going to miss this event organized by Baithak Foundation at TMCP Center at Ganga Legend in Bavdhan.
I reached the center with a bit of difficulty. By the time I reached, the event had already started. Yuji had started his rendition of raag Bhimpalas and accompanying him on Tabla was Shruteendra Katagade. Among the audience, there were kids and some women who worked at the construction site. Some classical music enthusiasts were present too.
Yuji presented two compositions in raag Bhimpalas, starting with an extensive aalaap in slow tempo, gradually increasing the intensity and then ending the rendition with the drut bandish and taans in fast tempo. As Yuji expertly moved the bow and his fingers on the strings of the Sarangi, the melodious sounds produced by the instrument filled the tin-roofed room and enchanted the audiences, some of whom had never seen this musical instrument ever before.
During the interaction that followed, the attendees asked numerous questions about the instrument – what it was made of, how many strings the instrument had, the purpose of the pegs, what the bow was made of, what material was used for the strings, and so on. As Yuji answered each question in fluent Hindi, more questions kept coming up from the attendees. Instead of directly answering some questions about the Sarangi, Yuji asked the kids to touch the Sarangi and guess the material used for making some of its parts. The kids were way too happy to get the opportunity. It was quite a heartening sight.
At the end of the question and answer session, a girl hesitantly asked Yuji to play something more and Yuji happily obliged. This time, he played a bandish-ki-thumri in raag Des. At the end of the concert, I grabbed the opportunity to interact with Yuji and ask him a few questions. While I did ask questions about the instrument and how it is tuned, I forgot to ask the one question that I really wanted to ask – how and why he had chosen to learn to play Sarangi.
Like all the Baithak concerts that I’ve attended so far, it was a wonderful concert and a great experience. The sound of Sarangi lingered on my mind for quite some time after I returned from the concert. I cannot thank Baithak Foundation enough for all these opportunities and experiences.