Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sankat Mochan Sangeet Samaroh 2013 - Day one

Despite his divine presence pervading the entire space in Sankat Mochan, physical absence of Mahant-ji - Late Shri Veer Bhadra Mishra - with his calm and serene demeanor was acutely felt. A subtle somberness hung in the air, even as everyone quietly went about doing what they were meant to be doing. It was as if we were still being guided by his spirit and were in our own ways acknowledging it. May his soul rest in peace.

The star attraction of the evening undoubtedly was Anup Jalota. Still carrying his inimitable style of setting up an atmosphere of a jivy satsang with his popular bhajans and his ultra popular applaud-drawing techniques of vocal elasticity, he kept the motley benarasi crowd in good humor.

The rest of the evening was staging newcomers and promising talents. 

Akash, an teenager from Bangalore made a brave and honest attempt with his flute to jam up with Bhaskarnath's shehani as they gradually unfolded the intricacies of raga Jog, with justified caution. Submitting to rigor and staying within the bounds to not risk contamination of a raga often brings out its essence. Akash and Bhaskar aptly displayed this ability and must say, even as budding talent, were considerably appreciate and applauded by a rather sensitive and sensing audience. 

The samaroh staged another flautist duo - two sisters - Suchismita & Devpriya - able disciples of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia. It was their maiden stage performance at the sangeet samaroh which was obvious from the initial hiccups in exposition of raga Bageshree they experienced. The mystical energy of the space has the ability to hold those who surrender with humility. It happened with the two sisters soon getting centered and finding the notes mellifluously flowing out of their instruments. Influence of Hari-ji's style was unmistakable. And yet lacked the 'aha' that he left the audiences with, even a decade back. Is it about seasoning , maturity and sadhana? Or is it also about ones emotional location, one's intent and commitment to make music a passage unto the primordial silence, the un-struck sound of Aum?

While on the one hand the space comes with the compassion to hold and uphold the humble and honest, it is also can be ruthless in teaching valuable lessons to those get carried away with their performer-ship. The space has little consideration for lineage, school and heritage one comes from. What matters is the emotional location of the artist in the 'here and now'. This, for the nth time was experienced when Abhay Rustom Sapori - son of much loved and revered Pandit Bhajan Sapori took the stage. Choosing to play a rare evening raga Saraswati after mid night - a raga with a rather limited range for improvisation on an instrument like santoor with limitations of glide, was in itself a statement. The 45 min of alap and jor, though 'executed' with impeccable dexterity, left the audience with a sense of incompleteness. And the four compositions that followed were just an extension of the same display of dexterity - this time with tempo and rhythm. Choosing limits to display effort and technical mastery of transcending those limits could be a good way to tease the intellect of a critic but may not be the best way to home into a human heart and definitely not a sufiana way of loosing oneself in the ocean of divinity.

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