Vasantotsav Vimarsh

Among many things, Pune city is also known for various music festivals/concerts which are held through out the year. The most famous being one started by Pt Bhimsen Joshi way back in the memory of his guru Sawai Gandharv. Apart from music performances by various artists, they also have started recently two sessions called Shadja where documentaries/films around lives of music performers are shown, and the other one is Antarang wherein interviews of artists are conducted. Both of them are very useful to general audience to understand more about their favorite artists in general.

The other big name in the list of music festivals is Vansantotsav which is held in the memory of Pt. Vasantrao Deshpande. Starting this year, they now have started a session named ‘Vasantotsav Vimarsh’ which is aimed at discussing issues in musicology. I found this step very interesting. Musicological deliberations are very rare(the other one which goes close to this activity is Sudarshan Sangeet Sabha which is facilitated by Chaitanya Kunte). You will find that not every music performer is a capable of talking on musicology, and the vice-versa is also true-that is not every musicologist is capable of performing. Single person doing both is very rare-but very desirable for variety of reasons. Ashok Da Ranade was one such personality.

I, being very interested(due to my exposure to Indology) in musicological aspects of any music as such. Musicological aspects does not mean only music theory. Every student of music does go over theory formally or informally. Musicology goes beyond that. It can cover historical topics, research, current issues on performance, education and the state of the art, inter-relation with other forms of music, ethno-musicological topics, cultural aspects.

Here is quick account of this year’s Vasantotsav Vimarsh. Hope it generates some interest in readers of this blog on this topic. It was interesting to find that all of the speakers are trained performers as well which is again is very very rare.

Deepak Raja spoke on raag-tatva in his opening speech. He is accomplished sitar player and very active in talking and writing about various aspects of raag concept of in Indian classical music. He also runs his own blog as well. The details of is presentation can be found on his blog.

Samir Dubale spoke about state of education in music, challenges, and shared some of this experiments. He touched upon on topics of creating awareness and ability to understand classical music though his organization called SPECTRUM. About a decade back, I had attended this music appreciation workshop conducted by him and had found very useful. He spoke about on some of the ideas and initiatives they have taken to improve quality music education at FLAME school of fine and performing arts.He about how their ideas on education have attempted to encompass modern day advancements and how it gives exposure of modern day needs of music as an industry. He also stressed that this will help create music teachers who are equipped on various aspects of music and will fill that gap of quality music teachers especially at school level.

Urmila Bhirdikar spoke about Pt Mallikarjun’s music and relation with Maharashtra. This is the topic one of my current interest. She touched upon state of music during colonial era in and around of North Karnataka and South Maharashtra(then part of Bombay state). Many aspects of this topic were covered in Rahmath Tarikere’s book on Amirbai Karnataki which I had translated in Marathi recently. Urmila Bhirdikar is trained Kathak dancer and expert in sociology. Her views and findings from cultural theory perspective were very interesting

The session ended with Aneesh Pradhan speaking who himself being an accomplished tabla player. He spoke about state of music patronage during bygone era. He presented historical account of how music was supported by princely states’ generously and how were these artists treated. Gone are the days of princely states now, the music has stayed alive on patronage of society and general public.

The sessions were aptly compered by Chaitanya Kunte and stressed the need of such musicological deliberations which will enrich and spread awareness of music in society in general. Let me conclude this account by quoting Pt Usman Khan, sitarist, who said that his guru has advised him to not to lower his music to audience levels, but make attempt to bring audiences’ level to his level of music. I guess sessions such as Vasantosav Vimarsh help to achieve exactly that.

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Remembering Pancham

Last night(Jan 4), managed to attend wonderful program on Pancham arranged by my friend Mahesh Ketkar and his colleagues at panchammagic.org.

Snapshot of program's brochure
It was scintillating and fascinating night, with so many original sound tracks, rare pieces, visuals, videos all packed in one show.

As you know, Jan 4 is death anniversary of great composer Pancham. Pachammagic.org, a group of die-hard fans of Pacham, started with this unique idea of exploring Pancham twice a year, since 2000. This was their 26th marathon program.

These events are like must-have gathering for Pancham fans and it has now evolved into a cult. It was great to see achievements of Mahesh and his team’s dedication and passion, is yet another example, how it can do wonders. I still distinctly remember a show on Jan 4, 2001, which I attended, how it was humble beginning of novel idea.

Randhir Kapoor was invited to share his moments he shared with Pancham. As we all know, Randhir Kapoor, whose career was made by Pancham composed songs of Javani Diwani. Randhir(Dhabbu) was candid enough to acknowledge that wholeheartedly.

Many other Pancham’s co-artists were invited, notably Zarin Sharma and Pt Ashok Sharma, sarod and sitar players respectively, elaborated the misconception, that Pancham was only western-style composer, but that he had a great understanding of Indian Classical music and he has used it whenever he got opportunity in many memorable songs. They demonstrated, with their instruments, live, those pieces, and shared many tid-bits and stories of what a wonderful time they had with Pancham.

Salute to not only Pancham but also all those who were part of this team! Panchammagic.org is doing fantastic job bringing these behind-the-scene stories, making his team members speak and share, thereby shedding light on Pancham’s talent and qualities, more than what we know!

Article on Goharabai translated by me(Kannada to Marathi)

It is interesting to know other shades of life of Balgandharva and Goharabai.

This is a article on relations between Goharabai and Balgandharva, translated from Kannada to Marathi by me. Original article appeared in Kannada monthly called Mayur in Oct 2010. Here is the link of this article on ThinkMaharashtra.com portal.

Update on May 21, 2015:

Some time back I had translated article on Amirbai Karnataki also, it was published on ThinkMaharashtra.com portal recently. Please check it out here.

Design based culture

We all know how important design is in software…in fact, we know its importance in all engineering fields.
Have you heard of something called Design Based Culture?
This has been prominent idea since English Renaissance Period in Europe and other developed nations. I bumped on a nice book, in Marathi, on this topic, by famous painter/artist Ravi Paranjpe. The book is titled ‘Neel-Dhawal Dhwajakhali’. This book is actually a collection of his thoughts, observations on current social, political situation in India and the role Design Based Culture can play to bring back India’s past glory. His approach is based on aesthetics in general across all fields.

The reason to bring this topic now, was actually an event where I got an opportunity to hear his thoughts, albeit not in detail, during a program of felicitations of sculpturist Nagalingacharya by Marathi Kannada Snehavardhan Kendra in Pune recently.
Having studied Indology which deals with India’s past and philosophy(which talks of aesthetics among other topics), I was keenly interested in these thoughts. He seeks for beauty in every field of life and claims that it can bring India to top once again, if we do that. Interesting thoughts, right?

On other note: I bumped on Marcus Corbett at above program, a keen practitioner of Indian Classical Music. I was thrilled to meet him and learn about his passion. We all hear about interest of Westerners in Indian culture, I got an opportunity to interact with one such person first hand.

I always had felt that we all should take efforts to understand and appreciate various aspects India’s culture, whichever interests one’s taste. As far as I am concerned, I am hooked onto Indian Classical Music these days!

Any thoughts, comments?