Two Kolkata-based organisers demonstrate how online concerts can be showcased best
With no sign of live concerts this season, two Kolkata-based organisers-cum-musicians are offering an excellent example on how to curate paid online concerts. Backed by good sound and video, the series are nominally priced and feature a range of artistes.
Arati Music Foundation, founded by sitarist Pt. Kushal Das and his son Kalyanjit, has been streaming monthly concerts since July featuring one senior artiste and one up-and-coming artiste. An access code is sent to all those who purchase the tickets online. The concerts are recorded in auditoriums to ensure a live concert experience, and are available for viewing for 48 hours. The audio quality makes listening a pleasure. Mercifully, there are no sponsor advertisements to interrupt the listening. Kalyanjit Das arranges a small live audience of students and the artiste’s friends to give that vital interactive feel to the musicians.
This month’s edition began with the young Arshad Ali of the Kirana gharana. A well-known disciple of the erudite Kolkata-based Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan, Arshad sang an evocative Raga Puriya. With a rich baritone voice, excellent taalim, and long hours of riyaaz, he impressed with his measured and mature approach. The 30-minute vilambit was a welcome and unusual change during these times when concerts are getting shorter.
Puriya can be a prayerful raag, and Arshad’s second composition ‘Chalo mayee auliya’, about the pilgrimage of Nizamuddin Auliya, seemed to steer one in that direction. The hour-long presentation concluded with raag Megh. One admired the attempt to retain the gravitas of the concert and not lighten the mood with a thumri or bhajan as has become the norm.
The evening concluded with the sarod recital of Pt. Tejendra Narayan Mazumdar. Being Navaratri, Tejendra played raag Durgeshwari, created by Maihar gharana founder, Ustad Allaudin Khan.
Pt. Mazumdar was unable to create the blissful mood that he is known for during his aalap, where his presentation was more in the form of an extended auchar, not displaying the dhrupad style that he has been trained in. He came into his own towards the conclusion of the aalap. Pt. Tanmoy Bose accompanied him on the tabla, the camaraderie between the two childhood friends making for a relaxed presentation, with a strikingly sensitive and appropriate sangat on the tabla. The maestro displayed his musical temperament and erudition in the brief Mishra Pilu in Deepchandi taal (14 beats).
Then, last weekend, Swara Samrat Festival premièred a four-month online music fiesta, with Pt. Tejendra Narayan Mazumdar as the main organiser. Recordings of 36 artistes, including dancers, from five cities are to be streamed to a worldwide audience every weekend till March 2021. The tickets can be purchased online and the concerts viewed at the Swara Samrat website.
The opening concert, recorded in Kolkata, was by 17-year-old Anubhab Khamaru, disciple of Pt. Ajoy Chakraborty. Blessed with a lovely voice and an endearing personality, Anubhab impressed in his 30-minute performance of raag Bageshwari. He displayed vocal agility, perfect pitch and laya control, as well as tayyari.
A mix of styles
The next concert, recorded at the Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Bengaluru, featured vidushi Jayanthi Kumaresh and Pt. Pravin Godkhindi. In the first piece, the tilt towards the Southern tradition was more visible in the choice of the Carnatic raga Hemavathi, as well as in the structure of the composition.
The mutual respect that the two artistes have for each other and their art came through as the artistes allowed each other the required space to showcase their virtuosity.
As the concerts were presented with expertise, one could not make out that they were performed at two different places — Kolkata and Bengaluru. The same backdrop, same compère, and the same sound and video recording quality ensured a wonderful and seamless experience.
The Delhi-based author
writes on Hindustani music.