SPOTLIGHT: THE STARS COME OUT TO PLAY AT NIGHT
By Rajeev Gupta
What happens when the big white moon of the night floats on classical music notes? ‘Magic’ would be an understatement, but that’s what’s ahead for listeners of raag music at the Nuit Blanche concert to be held at the Aga Khan Museum in late September.
Mohamed Khaki, president of Raag-Mala Toronto, says, “At Nuit Blanche, audiences get to experience late-night and early-morning raags at the musically appropriate times. This is rare today, when concerts are usually held in the evenings.”
Therefore, listeners can expect to hear raag Darbari Kanada, a very serene late-night raag. Some of the iconic songs in Hindi cinema based on this raag include Jhanak jhanak tori baje payalia by Manna Dey from the film Mere Hazoor and Dil jalta hai to jalne de by Mukesh from the film Pehli Nazar. This raag is considered the king of raags and is believed to even cure insomnia.
This is the second year in a row that Raag-Mala is taking part in the city-wide Nuit Blanche festival at the Aga Khan Museum. Audiences will be treated to three shows of 90 minutes each.
It will begin at 7:30 pm with a sitar recital by the young Imdadkhani gharana sitarist Sweekar Katti, accompanied by tabla player Yash-want Vaishnav (touted to be the next Zakir Hussain!). Sweekar received his initial training from his mother Dr. Vandana Katti who is a senior vocalist herself and from his father Dr. Sunil Katti who is a sitar and santoor maestro.
This will be followed by a sarod recital at 10:30 pm by the acclaimed Ken Zuckerman. He rigorously trained under none other than the legendary Ustad Ali Akbar Khan for thirty-seven years. His album Diaspora Sefardi was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2009.
Ken will be accompanied on tabla by Pandit Ashis Sengupta of Banaras Gharana, who was awarded a senior fellowship by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.
with an early morning vocal recital at 5:30 am by vocalist Shantanu Bhattacharya. Listeners can expect to hear morning raags like Bhairav, Ahir Bhairav, Lalit and Ramkali.
Even casual listeners of Indian music will recognize the melodies – for example, Bhairav was immortalized by Lata Mangeshkar in the song Jago Mohan pyare, invoking Krishna at daybreak in the film Jagte Raho. Raag Ahir Bhairav gave rise to the song Poocho na kaise maine rain bitai, which opens a new day after a long, restless night. Shantanu will be accompanied on the tabla by Pandit Ashis Sengupta and his long-time partner Durba Bhattacharyya on harmonium.
“You get to experience the tremendous power of raag sangeet when you listen to it being performed at the right time,” said Khaki.
“Raag-Mala Toronto is delighted to be partnering with the Aga Khan Museum in this unique all-night concert”.
When and where Sept. 29-Sept. 30: 7:30 pm to 7 am. Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Drive. Tickets: agakhanmuseum.org, Rishi (647-521-3816), Manoshi (416-276-5616).