In these difficult times art and music is helping many of us to stay calm and sane. In a world where we enjoy music so much why is paying artists so difficult?
The purposes may be diverse but one cannot forget that house concerts/chamber concerts are a wonderful opportunity. Opportunity for whom and of what kind? Here are some guidelines to ensure that we all are making the best use of the opportunity available.
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.
Odissi Dance Recital by Smita Panigrahi June 19, 2019 at Ahilya Devi Holkar School, Pune An Account by Namrata Shah
I had heard about Baithak Foundation over a year ago and had been keen to volunteer with them to understand the nature of efforts that the organization has been putting in to promote Indian classical music and to take it to masses. I got my first opportunity to volunteer for an Odissi dance recital by Smita Panigrahi on June 19, 2019 at Ahilya Devi Holkar School in Pashan, Pune.
When I heard that 45 school students had voluntarily signed up for the dance recital, I was pleasantly surprised. To be honest, I did expect some curiosity among a few school children about the dance performance that was to take place in their school, but I definitely did not expect the high attendance and the high level of excitement and interest that I witnessed.
The program started with an introduction to the rules to be adhered to by the attendees. This was followed by an introduction to Odissi dance and the artist – Miss Smita Panigrahi, who is a senior disciple of Smt. Sonali Mohapatra. Smita has completed Nrutya Visharad from Pravin Kala Kendra, Chandigarh. A software professional who is currently working for Accenture Services, Smita has followed her passion for Odissi dance and has been practicing it right since her childhood and has continued to learn it to get better at her art.
Smita performed two dance routines. The first performance was Batu Nrutya, which was a fast- paced, pure dance offering. Batu Nrutya is a dance in honor of Lord Shiva and it has no song or recitation or any other accompaniment. This dance has sculpturesque poses, which indicate the actions of playing of instruments such as drums, veena, and flute. The second performance was based on Abhinaya or dance drama, which is the art of expression – an integral part of all Indian dance forms. Abhinaya is the type of dance performance that is based on stories of deities. Thesecond performance by Smita revolved around stories from Lord Krishna’s childhood. It was amazing to see how quickly she could change her facial expressions to get into different characters involved in the story. The attendees easily identified the multiple characters in the performance based onSmita’s changing facial expressions – a proof of the fact that a dance is a truly an effective form of storytelling.
The two performances were followed by an interactive session, in which the attendees got an opportunity to ask questions to the artist. The questions ranged from those about the changing expressions in the second performance to the differences between Odissi dance and other Indian classical dances like Bharatnatyam and Kathak, from the ornaments worn by the artist to the people who inspire her. Smita spoke about how her guru, Smt. Sonali Mohapatra, is her inspiration because despite her hearing impairment, she weaves magic through her performances. During the question and answer session, Smita also emphasized the importance of regular practice and keenness to keep learning. When asked about the differences between Odissi, Kathak, and Bharatnatyam dance forms, Smita demonstrated the very basic differences in the stances in the three dance forms and explained how the basic stance in Odissi – Chowka – is derived from the pose of lord Jagannath and another pose called Tribhanga, three bends, is the pose of Lord Krishna.
Smita answered all the questions with immense patience and made the answers simple enough through examples that the children could easily understand and relate with. I couldn’t help but smilewhen I heard a girl ask Smita whether she had ever considered going to Bollywood. I was amazed by the inquisitiveness of the children, who formed majority of the audience. The event was over, but the excitement and curiosity wasn’t, and so, some of the students stayed back to have a word withSmita, who continued to interact with the kids with a smile on her face.
I can only imagine the amount of effort that is involved in putting together an event of this kind – right from collaborating with schools and artists to ensuring that the event gets participation from alltypes of audiences. Baithak Foundation’s work and commitment to their chosen cause of makingIndian classical music accessible to everyone is truly commendable. Volunteering for this event was an enriching experience and I look forward to getting more opportunities to contribute to BaithakFoundation’s efforts in whatever way I can.
Hindustani Vocal Music Performance by Reeshabh Purohit
At Akanksha Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj English Medium School, Pune. August 2, 2019
What would happen if you brought together a huge group of about 200 children at one place and made them listen to some intense music? Is it even possible to make them sit quietly at one place for an hour or so? To me, it seemed quite daunting. And yet Reeshabh Purohit, the 16-year young vocalist, made the challenging task of keeping some high-on-energy children engaged in pure classical music for an hour seem extremely easy. He was performing at an event organized by Baithak Foundation for Akanksha Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj English Medium School in Kasarwadi.
Reeshabh started the concert with a vilambit khyaal in raag Dhanashree, a typical of Agra Gharaana. He looked unfazed by the huge number of attendees. For someone his age, the ease, confidence, concentration, and precision with which Reeshabh sang thoughtful aalaap-s and taan-s was commendable. He sang effortlessly, keeping the kids involved in his singing. Reeshabh had Saumitra Kshirsagar and Parth Tarabadkar accompanying him on Harmonium and Tabla respectively. Reeshabh followed the vilambit khyaal in Dhanaashree with a drut bandish in Teentaal and then ended the recital with an Abhanga. After he finished singing each composition, the children in the audience responded with loud cheers of excitement and enthusiasm. Clearly, he had earned quite a few fans in the audience with his singing skills. I also learned later that Reeshabh, who has learned classical music for 10 years under the tutelage of some eminent gurus, teaches Hindustani classical vocal music at the same school. It is heartening to see someone so young try to be actively involved in contributing to the efforts to spread the joy of Hindustani classical music.
There were a few challenges during this concert. The number of children in present in the hall was one of the challenges. Despite the attempts of the teachers to keep the children seated quietly, there were a few restless ones who would either want to talk or move around. Considering the fact that none among the kids was probably over 10 years old, it was difficult to expect all of them to sit in complete silence for an hour. Then, there was continuous noise from outside – caused probably by some construction activity nearby. The power supply kept getting cut for a few seconds in between the performance. Reeshabh continued his performance without letting any of these problems affect him or his performance.
While Reeshabh did manage to keep the kids involved during the recital, the interaction, which usually takes place as part of every event organized by Baithak Foundation, could not be as effective due to the size of the group. Usually, there are about 30 to 50 participants in every event that Baithak organizes and this seems to be the optimum number to ensure a fruitful interaction in which participants can be allowed to ask questions and the artists can impart some knowledge about the basics of Hindustani classical music. In this event, the level of curiosity and interest that I had seen in other events seemed lacking. However, the fact that kids so young sat through the entire performance without much fuss was a big achievement in itself, for the school staff, for the artists, and most importantly, for Baithak Foundation. The task that Baithak Foundation has set out to achieve is a challenging one and the very fact that it is able to reach such a huge number of kids from different backgrounds and across different schools is laudable and I feel immensely happy to be able to contribute to their efforts in any small way I can.
~ Namrata Shah
Hindustani Vocal Concert by Mandar Karanjkar for all staff members of TMCP
August 2, 2019 at Sangam World Centre, Yerawada, Pune.
On a rainy morning, at a venue surrounded by greenery, a hundred-odd members of staff from Tara Mobile Creches Pune (TMCP) had gathered. A number of events were lined up for them for the day and one of those was a Hindustani classical vocal concert and interaction by Mandar Karanjkar.
During the drive to the venue, I learned from the members of Baithak Foundation that they have been collaborating with TMCP for two years. TMCP is a non-profit organization that has been striving to provide safety, healthcare, education and recreation to the migrant construction workers’ children. Baithak Foundation has been endeavoring to take Hindustani classical music to people, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds. Together, the two organizations have been providing an opportunity to the less privileged ones to listen to Hindustani classical music and interact with some of the promising as well as renowned artists.
This specific event was organized by Baithak Foundation for only the staff members of TMCP because Baithak found it necessary to reach out to the TMCP staff and explain the relevance of Baithak Foundation’s work to all the staff members. This concert was the first by Baithak Foundation for TMCP staff, featuring classical vocal by Mandar Karanjkar, co-founder of Baithak Foundation. Among the audience that had gathered, most were women in different age groups, working as an in-charge, or coordinator, or staff at a TMCP Centre or Office.
The day started with a prayer, which was followed by an introduction to the artists – the vocalist Mandar Karanjkar and Saumitra Kshirsagar, Parth Tarabadkar and Dakshayani Athalye who were there to accompany Mandar’s vocals on Harmonium, Tabla and Taanpura, respectively. Before beginning the performance, Mandar asked everyone gathered in the hall whether they had ever listened to Hindustani classical music. Almost all of them answered in the negative. They all were going to be listening to pure classical music for the first time ever.
Mandar started the concert with a khayal in Raag Bibhaas. I’d heard the khayal he sang in one of the events organized earlier, but it was then sung in a different taal (Tilwada), with a different approach. Mandar’s rendition of the khayal in madhyalaya Teentaal was just as engaging. Mandar then sang a bandish in drut Ektaal.