While March was harrowing and nerve-wracking for professionals and the business community on account of the closure of the financial year, the same month proved to be a delight for music connoisseurs living in Guwahati. Despite the increasing number of cultural and allied events that are organized in the city in regular intervals, the city hardly gets to witness music performances or concerts worth reckoning.But to soothe the blues associated with the financial closure, the city hosted two prolific music festivals last month, each within a short period from the other.
Sangeet Madhuri, a carnival of dance and music which was organized from March 11 to 13, was initiated by the Department of Cultural Affairs to make up for the lack of a classical music festival in the region. An open air concert held at the newly inaugurated Shradhanjali Kanan park, the festival featured many prolific musicians like Pt Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Ghulam Mustafa Khan, Manoj Baruah, Prabhat Sharma, Pragyan Baruah, Hem Hazarika and his son Subhankar, besides a host of other danseuses and musicians.
Organized by a department that seems to lay more emphasis on theatrical productions and other performing arts, Sangeet Madhuri proved to be an earnest attempt by the directorate to reaffirm that music was still part of its agenda. Cultural Affairs director Shankar Prasad Kakoti Bora said, “Our effort is not only to make great Indian classical music performances by reputed artistes accessible to the people of the city but to also provide patronage and encouragement to young and talented artists.”
Hundreds of people were seen thronging the open air park during the festival, proving that the city indeed has a sizeable audience which appreciates quality music. And just while the enthusiasm of the people was settling down, another vocal and instrumental music festival was organized in the city that proved to be a treat for listeners. Organized by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, Sangeet Sangam or ‘Confluence of Music’ featured a host of well-known musicians from the Northeast as well as from outside. The event was spread over three days and it was special in the sense that in addition to the regular evening performances, it also featured a couple of morning sessions that enabled the audience to hear some of the later morning raags – a rarity in concerts held in the city.
Sangeet Sangam was inaugurated by eminent Sattriya exponent and Padmashree and SNA awardee Jatin Goswami in the presence of Assam Satra Kendra project director Dulal Roy, flautist and SNa awardee Prabhat Sharma, violinist Minoti Khaund and Indian Art History Congress chairman Robin Choudhury.
The festival kicked off on the evening of March 23 at Rabindra Bhavan with a presentation by violinist Ashok Das of Agartala, whose performance echoed the style of his guru late Pt VG Jog. He was followed by Gulam Sadiq Ali Khan whose vocal recital was strongly rooted in the Rampur Saheswan Gharana. Having chosen Raag Anand Kalyan, Khan was accompanied by Kamal Sabri on the Sarengi and Pradyut Mishra on the harmonium.
The second and third days were both divided into morning and evening sessions. The first morning saw flautist Dipak Sharma and Satoor artist Pankaj Sharma engaging in a duet. They were followed by Paban Bordoloi and his group, which provided a stellar performance exploring the varied aspects of percussion. Later in the evening Vinayak Torvi captivated the entire audience with his vigour and powerful voice, while Hindustani vocalist Mandira Lahiri brought out the exuberance and joys associated with the current spring season in her kheyal. With Sabir Khan from Kolkata accompanying her on the tabla, the singer’s rich baritone was the defining feature of her performance.
Hindustani vocalist Jitendra Singh’s performance marked the beginning of the final day performance and the same ended with vigour in the form of a highly energetic recital by Purabayan Chatterjee. Marked by his trademark liveliness, Chatterjee was accompanied by Anindo Chatterjee on the tabla.