HINDUSTANI CLASSICAL Maestros set the mood
By RAJEEV GUPTA
The spontaneous ovation at Raag-Mala’s sold-out concert in April remains vivid in my memory.
Vidushi Ashwini Bhide set the bar high by giving listeners an unparalleled experience of the rare raag Bihagda, the sweet Chandrakauns, and a perfectly pitched Saiyan nikas gaye main na khadi thi in raag Bhairavi.
Another amazing evening of music lies ahead. Raag-Mala’s second concert of 2019 features a scintillating sarod recital with the jewel of Senia Maihar gharana, Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumdar and the tabla nawaz Pandit Subhankar Banerjee.
Tejendra ji’s interest in classical music and sarod was strongly influenced by his grandfather with whom he grew up. Later, his formal training began with Ustad Bahadur Khan, who took six months before agreeing to take him under his tutelage. This provided Tejendra ji with a strong foundation.
In a Rajya Sabha TV interview, Tejendra ji noted it was his determination to learn that, many years later, took him across the sea to study under Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Working under the busy schedule of Khan Sahib’s performances and tours, Tejendra ji had to seek out learning times from his guru before and after concerts. Today, when he plays sarod in dhrupad and khayal gayaki style, the presence of the rich tantrakari of Maihar Gharana can be felt.
Recognition came as early as 1981, when Tejendra ji came first in the All India Radio Music Competition and was awarded the President’s Gold Medal and the Pandit D.V. Paluskar Award. Since then, he has performed and gained recognition in four continents, including the 50th Independence Day Celebration of India in New York, USA, at World Trade Centre (the historic Twin Towers) on August 15, 1997.
With a unique blend of education, training and career, Tejendra ji will cast a spell on the Raag-Mala audience. They will encounter the mellow, yet emotion-charged melody of his sarod, steeped in the essence of the raga and spiced with thrilling permutations of rhythm-play.
He will be accompanied on the tabla by the celebrated and accomplished artiste Pandit Subhankar Banerjee. Unlike many other music artistes, Subhankar ji does not come from a family of musicians.
He is a student of Swapan Shiva of the Farrukhabad gharana as well as Pandit Manik Das of the Benares Gharana. When he studied with Pandit Birju Maharaj, it took a long time before he was allowed to perform with him. By keenly observing and following several artistes, Subhankar ji has shaped a unique style. His formidable command over the instrument attracts music lovers and connoisseurs from around the world.
Collaboration between these two artistes is not new. They have performed together on many occasions; however, this is their first time together for Raag-Mala.
The sarod, a plucked, fretless lute, emerged in the 19th century as a modification of the rabab, an Afghan folk instrument and is known for a deep, weighty, introspective sound. In Indian cinema, the sarod was often used, especially in early years, to intensify the mood of a scene. A scene about persuasion can feel more convincing and real if it rides on the wave of a Bageshree on sarod. Attentive listeners profoundly experience both the pain of Pilu and the mist of Malhaar from this instrument. Don’t forget to get your tickets soon!
When and where. Saturday, June 15 at 7 pm. Aga Khan Museum Auditorium. Tickets: www.agakhanmuseum.org or Manoshi (416-276-5616).
• Rajeev Gupta is a Raag-Mala Toronto volunteer