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Sarangi Recital by Yuji Nakagawa at TMCP Bavdhan Centre

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. 

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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.

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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. 

~Namrata Shah

Violin Recital by Vidya Dengle at DSS Wadarwadi

“बैठक@क्लासेस” प्रकल्पांतर्गत श्रीमती विद्याताई डेंगळे व शिष्यांची व्हायोलिनवादन मैफल

दि. ९ ऑगस्ट २०१९, डोर स्टेप स्कूल्स,वडारवाडी, पुणे.

‘बैठक फाऊंडेशन’चे काम social media च्या माधमातून अनेक दिवस मी बघत होते. फार वेगळं, मूलभूत काम ही मंडळी करत आहेत हे त्यांच्या प्रत्येक post वरून लक्षात येत होते. ९ ऑगस्ट २०१९ रोजी ‘बैठक’ तर्फे आयोजित केलेल्या एका कार्यक्रमाला जायचा योग आला. श्रीमती विद्या डेंगळे व त्यांच्या शिष्यांचे व्हायोलीनवादन! हा कार्यक्रम डोर स्टेप स्कूल्स, वडारवाडी, पुणे येथे झाला.

२ खोल्या खाली व २ वर, अशा ४ छोट्या खोल्यांची जेव्हा शाळा होते तेव्हा विविध तक्ते, चित्रे अशा अनेक गोष्टींनी सजलेले अनुभव जागेचा छोटेपणा विसरायला लावतात. ही मैफलही मी अशीच अनुभवली! शास्त्रीय संगीताची मैफल म्हणलं की स्टेज ,ध्वनियोजना, प्रकाशयोजना,आसनव्यवस्था, दोन तानपूर्‍यांच्या साथीने कला सादर करणारे कलाकार असे प्रशस्त वातावरण डोळ्यांपुढे येते. या सर्व गोष्टी उत्तम असल्या तरच मैफल उत्तम रंगते असेही काही जणांचे मत असते. पण, जेव्हा संगीताशी जोडले जाण्याची इच्छा असते तेव्हा कलाकार,सूर-लय, आणि श्रोते, एवढेच महत्वाचे घटक उत्तम मैफल सजवतात हे मी अनुभवलेल्या ‘बैठक’ च्या या मैफलीबद्दल नक्कीच सांगू शकेन!

मैफलीच्या सुरूवातीला विद्याताईंची शिष्या वैष्णवी हिने वेळेनुरूप भीमपलास रागाने सुरुवात केली. तिने तीनताल मधील दोन रचना वाजवल्या. आठव्या इयत्तेत शिकणाऱ्या वैष्णवीने आत्मविश्वासाने सादरीकरण केले. त्यानंतर श्री. ताहा हुसैन यांनी सादर केलेल्या हंसध्वनी रागाने प्रसन्न वाटले. ताहा यांनी देखील तीनताल मधे दोन गती पेश केल्या. मैफलीच्या शेवटी विद्याताईंनी वाजवलेल्या मेघ-मल्हार रागाने सुंदर सांगता झाली. विद्याताईंनी झपताल व तीनताल मधील रचना सादर केल्या, व जनसंमोहिनी रागातील दादरा गीतप्रकाराची झलक ऐकवली. गमक, ताना, तसेच खास व्हायोलीनचे तंत्र वापरून केलेला रागविस्तार ही त्यांच्या वादनातील काही ठळक वैशिष्ट्ये. या सर्व कलाकारांना प्रसाद कुलकर्णी यांनी तबल्याची समर्पक साथ केली.

या मैफलीत विशेष जाणवलेली गोष्ट म्हणजे पूर्णवेळ फक्त वादन न करता विद्याताई समोर बसलेल्या छोट्या श्रोत्यांशी संवाद साधत होत्या. सहा ते सोळा वयोगटातील जवळजवळ ३०-३५ मुले-मुली उपस्थित होते. वाजवल्या जाणार्‍या रागाचे स्वरूप कसे आहे, राग म्हणजे काय, व्हायोलीन कसे असते, ते कसे वाजते अशा अनेक गोष्टी सदरीकरणादरम्यान व नंतर विद्याताईंनी समजावून संगितल्या. श्रोते असलेल्या या लहान मुलांचे मला खूप कौतुक वाटले. अतिशय कुतुहलाने त्यांनी मैफल अनुभवली. त्यांनी पहिल्यांदाच अशी मैफल अनुभवली होती आणि त्याबद्दलचे अनेक प्रश्न, नवीन काही जाणून घ्यायची उत्सुकता त्यांच्या डोळ्यांत दिसत होती.

एरवी ह्या मुलांपर्यंत पोहोचणारी गाणी किंवा संगीत हे फारच वेगळ्या स्वरूपाचे आहे हे लाक्षात आले. गणपती किंवा इतर मिरवणुकीत, सामाजिक साजर्‍या केल्या जाणार्‍या सण-वारांना जी कर्णकर्कश गाणी कानावर पडतात तोच त्यांचा संगीताशी आलेला संबंध! मात्र ‘बैठक’च्या या उपक्रमांतर्गत एक नवी आनंददायी वाट या छोट्या श्रोत्यांना सापडली असेल, व त्या वाटेवरून त्यांचा थोडा-फार प्रवास होईल, अशी खात्री वाटते. ‘बैठक’च्या या कार्यक्रमाचा अनुभव खूप छान व नेहमी स्मरणात राहील असा होता. संगीताची एक विद्यार्थिनी म्हणून मी ही या अनुभवातून खूप काही शिकले. ‘बैठक’ परिवारास माझ्या मनापासून शुभेच्छा!

– सौ. नेहा काटदरे-देशपांडे

Kathak Recital by Pooja Bhattad at BJR

Kathak Concert by Poorva Bhattad
At the iTeach Babu Jagjeevan Ram School, Yerawada, 24 June 2019

Upon entering the classroom at iTeach BJR, which temporarily functioned as a cosy concert space, one could not but sense the excitement of around 40 teenagers waiting to experience their first ever live music concert. It was a Kathak performance by Pooja Bhattad, senior disciple of Nayantara Parpia, a renowned Kathak artist.

As per the tradition, Pooja began the concert with a ‘vandana’. But before the actual performance, she briefly told the students a little about how vandana is set to a piece of pre-composed music, generally a Sanskrit shloka devotional in nature. After performing the piece, she asked students to decipher its content. Many students told what they understood, and all were right! Pooja then explained the shloka and movements associated with its meaning. They were a couple of Shiva-stuti shloka-s beautifully blended together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second piece was nritta, pure Kathak dance in Taal Teentaal. Pooja explained the concept of taal, maatra (beats), and aavartan. She also explained how all pieces end at a fixed point (sam), and gave parallel examples from our day-to-day lives to relate to the concept of laya. Pooja performed ‘thaat’, ‘gat-tukde’, ‘ginti’, ‘tihaayee’, and ‘chakradhaar’ in Teentaal. The third and final piece was a Thumri in Raag Hameer, depicting Krishna-leela. Pooja performed this piece elegantly, conveying the nuances of the composition through graceful mudraa-s. Pooja asserted here, that Kathak is a great medium to express emotions through well coordinated actions and is ultimately a medium of storytelling. No wonder then, that Kathak artists are traditionally called ‘Kathaakaar-s’.

Towards the end, Pooja even taught some basic footwork (tatkaar) to the students. Students enjoyed a lot, and also learnt that it is a long way before one imbibes the art form. It was very encouraging that Nayantara ji was present for the concert, and enthusiastically led the small ‘tatkaar’ tutorial session. A few other students from Nayantara ji’s institute were also present, and shared their inputs too.

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. 

Odissi Recital by Smita Panigrahi at ADH

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 Recital by Reeshabh Purohit at CSMEMS, Kasarwadi

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.

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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 Recital by Mandar Karanjkar for TMCP Staff

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.