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.