An evening to remember

The Ravi Shankar music and dance festival saw many celebrated artistes come together

The ‘Sixth Annual Ravi Shankar Music and Dance Festival’, dedicated to the sitar maestro’s beloved friend and Beatles guitarist late George Harrison, took place at the Ravi Shankar Centre in Chanakyapuri recently. The long-awaited festival was a bundle of joy and fulfilment for art lovers as they saw the best Indian artistes live in performance.

This festival is held around February 25 every year on the birth anniversary of late George Harrison, a long-time friend and co-musician with Pandit Ravi Shankar. The legendary sitarist as well as his family–Sukanya Shankar, Anoushka Shankar and Joe Wright were in attendance at the festival. Curator at the Ravi Shankar Centre, Anshuman Pandey, says, “In keeping with the reputation of the festival, we invite the best dancers, vocalists and instrumentalists to perform here. We welcome young talents as well as established names in the field of dance and music.”

The festival started with a performance by Gupta brothers of the Maihar gharana.

Lakshay Mohan Gupta played sitar, while Ayush Mohan Gupta was on sarod. With a brief alaap and jor followed by two compositions in jhap taal and teen taal in raga shree, the duo created a magical environment. Leading on was santoor maestro Pandit Tarun Bhattacharya. He mesmerised the audience with a short alaap and two compositions in jhap taal and teen taal in raga kirvani. Taking Odissi dance to newer heights, Sanchita Bhattacharya started with an abhinaya followed by moksha. Her abhinaya was an enthralling enactment of Lord Krishna and his mother Yashoda.

The second day witnessed breath taking performances by British sarod maestro Soumik Datta and Austria-born percussionist Bernhard Schimpelseberger. They jointly played pieces inspired by ragas basant mukhari, ahir bhairav and kirvani. Following them was classical vocalist Pandit Chhannulal Mishra, who captivated the listeners by performing raga hem and hem kalyan with compositions like Sajanwa Sang Lage Re, gatbhav thumri’s bandish, Benarasi thumri–Ab Na Bajao Shyam Basuria and dadra–Tore Naina Ki Lagi Kataar Sajni. He concluded the performance with two    horis dedicating them to the forthcoming festival of colours.

On the third day, the audience was regaled with an engrossing performance by Kalaapini Komkali who has gracefully carried forward the inheritance of gayaki from her father Pandit Kumar Gandharva. The next performance was by the senior and foremost disciple of Pandit Ravi Shankar, Kartik Kumar. The day concluded with a soulful performance by Kuchipudi danseuse and social activist Shallu Jindal.

The final day of the festival saw Hetal Mehta Joshi--an illustrious tabla maestro of the Benaras gharana render a performance in teen taal titled Uthan Chal Chari, other than performing kaeda, rela, gat, tukda, upaj, vilambit and madhay teen taal renditions. Representing the seventh generation in a family of distinguished musicians, Viji Krishnan’s violin touched many hearts on hamsadhwani raga and ragam ranjani.

The last performance of the festival came with vocalist Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty who rendered ek taal and teen taal compositions in raga kalyan. He concluded his enchanting performance with a bhajan in Bengali.

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