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ITC SRA News - October 2011 - September 2012

The ITC-SRA Homecoming Festival ,December 9-11, 2011

The Homecoming Festival 2011 that took place between December 9 through December 11, was a great success. It was an opportunity for all of us to renew old bonds and create new ones. While those who came in from outside Kolkata were here for all the 3 days, we really missed those scholars who could not come or were not able to come in every day. The occasion was a wonderful celebration of bonding, bringing together the SRA family, both past members and present. The Academy and its verdant lawns, brightly decorated for the event, looked festive and resplendent; the atmosphere was palpable with nostalgia and expectation. Warmth, hugs, merriment, excited chatter or just quiet reflective moments were the order of the day. The morning session of the first day was devoted to welcoming our past scholars, presenting the invitees with mementos and a fun "ice breaking" session. The remaining sesions over the remaining two and a half days were devoted to performances. We had about 20 past scholars who finally performed over the 5 sessions. The afternoons were reserved for "Adda" - discussions and group exercises - which proved to be very fruitful. What the Academy can do for its past scholars and what they could do for us was deliberated over in great detail. The last afternoon also had Pandit Arvind Parikh talking to the students about Guru Shishya Parampara and his days as a disciple of Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khan. We also had a post dinner adda on the first day where Mr Mathur, Executive Director spoke of his vision for SRA followed by Pandit Vijay Kichlu, SRA's first Executive Director , who spoke of the initial days of SRA. Any institution, including ITC SRA, is built by its people. Keenly aware of the dedication that our former scholars have brought to the cause of Hindustani Classical Music and grateful for the role we know that each and everyone of our former scholars has played, as an ambassador of our Academy, for the first time, SRA has invited scholars to select convenient dates for its Saturday Recital performances. Selections for our Mangaldeep (mini) and other Sammelans would also be part of our annual plan. In joining hands with all the members if its family, SRA looks forward to creating not only a lasting emotional bond, but the foundation of a strong relationship between the Academy and past scholar that will yield rich dividends not just to the individual but to the cause of the Academy and that of Indian Classical Music.

Girija Devi's Birthday Celebrations

Padma Bhushan Smt Girija Devi recently celebrated her 84th birthday. ITC Sangeet Research Academy marked the occasion with an evening of classical music and dance at Uttam Manch on 12th May, 2012. A Guru of the Academy since its inception and the doyen of the Banaras Gharana, Girija Devi — Appaji to everyone — charmed the audience with her scintillating presence. She accepted the honours from the Academy and from Bengal Foundation, Dhaka, with characteristic graciousness. She was also given the Mother Teresa Lifetime Achievement Award by Mr Anthony Arun Biswas, Chairman of the Mother Teresa International Award Committee. The first performance of the evening was by a scholar under Girija Devi, Annesha Ganguly, who began the proceedings with a Guru vandana. This was followed by Shubhayan Ganguly, a 12-year-old student of Guru Partha Chatterjee, who played the sitar. Two young Kathak dancers Sourav and Gaurav Mishra from Benares presented a dazzling performance at which their Guru Ravi Shankar Mishra assisted them in bol padhant. The twins displayed a great degree of coordination and mutual understanding in their presentation. After a recital by Pandit Narendra Mishra and his son Amarendra Mishra on the sitar, it was time for Ustad Rashid Khan, a past scholar of the Academy, to take the stage. True to form, he enthralled the packed audience with a remarkable vocal performance, concluding with one of Appaji’s thumris.

Basant Utsav March 2012

If the season of Basant (spring) lends its name to a wonderfully evocative raga, it lends its myriad colours to many others as well. It was therefore in the fitness of things that Basant Utsav 2012 at ITC Sangeet Research Academy on 10th March, 2012, was a many splendoured evening of magical music. From Kafi to Bageshri Bahar, and from Shuddh Basant to Desh, an abundance of colours unfolded as scholars of the Academy, Ayan Sengupta (sitar) and Mallar Rakshit (sarod), Musician Scholar Abir Hossain (sarod), Musician Tutors (vocal) Omkar Dadarkar, Kumar Mardur and Aniruddha Bhattacharya performed before a large audience at the Academy’s august auditorium. While the evening began with Padma Shri Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty explaining the significance of the season and its relationship with Hindustani classical music, it was concluded by one of ITC SRA’s greatest gurus, Padma Bhushan Vidushi Girija Devi. She added o the multiple colours of the evening by persuading the other vocal Gurus of the Academy, Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan, Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan, Pandit Arun Bhaduri, Vidushi Subhra Guha — who also anchored the evening by introducing each artiste to the audience — to join in with her. It would not be inappropriate to say that the ending touched the gathering in much the same way as the fragrance of the gulal with which each member of the audience was greeted on arrival.

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Scholar Performance at the Sangit Mahabharati

ITC SRA scholar Priyanka Mitra recently performed at the ITC-SRA's (Western Region) concert that took place at the Sangit Mahabharati academy in Mumbai on 15th September 2012. Pandit Nayan Ghosh wrote to us saying that Priyanka gave a very good account of her musical taleem under Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar, besides her assimilation of the Ragas Shree and Gaud Malhar through her sincere and involved rendition and systematic Badhats as one would find in the Gwalior and Agra traditions. He opined that she is also gifted with a voice which is smooth and weighty, clear and ringing - considered assets from a traditional viewpoint.

Malhar Festival: Kolkata - August 11-12, 2012

In celebration of the monsoon season and the canon of Ragas that best portray it, ITC Sangeet Research Academy recently presented the 2012 edition of the Malhar Festival on August 11 & 12. What was special about this year’s event was that it traced the very journey of music from folk to classical. From folk to Thumri to Dhrupad to Khayal the journey is, to say the least, an interesting and exciting one. At the outset it was outlined by Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, who played ‘Sutradhar (anchor)’, explaining the evolution of the forms. Malhar Festival 2012 began with a representation of the vibrant folk forms of West Bengal and Bangladesh, a country and a state with a shared history and culture. While Baul songs were rendered soulfully by Bhajan Khyapa of Bangladesh, Natua dance of Purulia was presented by Shri Hareram Kalinidi and his team. After this Thumri and its allied forms Dadra and Kajri were presented by the doyenne of the Benares Gharana, Padma Bhushan Smt Girija Devi. She was accompanied on the tabla by Shri Sanjoy Adhikari, on the harmonium by Smt Rupashree Bhattacharya and on the sarangi by shri Sarwar Hussain. It was this virtuoso performance that ended the first evening of the Malhar Festival. On Day 2 it was over to Pandit Uday Bhawalkar who established the profoundly meditative qualities of his form in Raga Megh. The final artiste of the evening, and indeed of the Festival, was Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, who took the audience through Khayal, Raga-based compositions and eventually a modern Bengali song that celebrated the season of rain and hope.

Bengal ITC SRA Classical Music Festival - Mayar Madhuri

A recent performance by Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, as part of Mayar Madhuri, a two-day classical music festival, jointly organised by ITC Sangeet Research Academy (SRA) of Kolkata and Bengal Foundation, Dhaka, Bangladesh, enthralled music lovers in Dhaka. The main auditorium of the Bangladesh National Museum reverberated to the maestro’s melodious voice. The two-day classical music festival was inaugurated by eminent Bangladeshi artist Qayyum Choudhur. Among those present were Ravi Mathur, Executive Director of ITC SRA, and Abul Khair, Chairman of the Bengal Foundation. The event began with the signing of an agreement between Bengal Foundation and ITC SRA for the nurture and propagation of classical music in Bangladesh. The full-to-capacity audience greeted Pandit Chakrabarty with great applause, underscoring the extent of his popularity in the neighbouring country. He was accompanied by his disciple, ITC SRA Scholar Brajeswar Mukherjee. He took the audience through the magical notes of Raga Yaman in vilambit ektaal and followed it up with a drut bandish in teental and a scintillating tarana. The famed thumri, ‘Ka karoo sajani, aaye na baalam’, acquired new dimensions in Pandit Chakrabarty’s inspired singing. With an unerring feel of the pulse of the audience, he also rendered some Bengali Ragapradhan songs, which the audience loved. The two-day classical music recital which took place on April 29 & 30, 2012, included an evening at Bengal Shilpalaya with a remarkable solo performance by Brajeswar Mukherjee.

Bengal ITC SRA Classical Music Festival February 2012

The main auditorium of Bangladesh National Museum in Dhaka recently reverberated to the strains of Hindustani classical music from some of its greatest exponents. ITC Sangeet Research Academy joined hands with Bengal Foundation, Dhaka, to put together the two-day Bengal ITC SRA Classical Music Festival. Gurus of ITC SRA, vocalists Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar and Vidushi Girija Devi performed at the event held on 12th and 13th February 2012, regaling the large audience at the prestigious venue. The other performers at the programme included Abir Hosain (sarod), Sucheta Ganguly (vocal), Sameehan Kashalkar (vocal) and Waseem Ahmed Khan (vocal). The tabla accompaniment was provided by Sanjay Adhikary and Gopal Mishra, while on the harmonium was Pandit Jyoti Goho. Sarwar Husain accompanied the vocalists on the sarengi. Artists from Dhaka, including Mohiuzzaman Chowdhury, Fahim Hossain Chowdhury, Bulbul Islam, Shama Rahman, Laisa Ahmed Lisa and Nandita Yasmin, rendered Tagore songs at the programme. The following evening featured a Baithak at the august Dhaka Club where stalwarts Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar and Vidushi Girija Devi again delighted the select gathering with their virtuoso performances.

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