True to its essence, the Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav has a line-up of not only the maestros of Indian classical music, but several first timers to celebrate the rich culture and tradition of performing arts. As is with venerated artists, their younger counterparts too consider it a blessing to perform at the prestigious stage, and be acknowledged by the very knowledgeable Pune audience.
We chat up the artists, who hope to make a mark with their debut performances, at the five-day mahotsav starting today.
A soulful performer
An internationally acclaimed violinist, Padma Shankar started playing the instrument at the mere age of three. “I had the best opportunity to be trained by violin maestro Padma Bhushan Lalgudi Jayaraman,” says Shankar, who specialises in Carnatic music and is recognised for her soulful performances. The violinist is known to collaborate with artists of multiple disciplines and curates projects that find connections between music forms of all eras, right from traditional to contemporary.
Shankar has played on the Sawai stage in 2011, when she accompanied music composer Shankar Mahadevan with the violin, in a vocal Carnatic performance. “This will be my first solo appearance. I will be presenting Raag Charukeshi. And, it is an honour to perform before great artists and veterans of the music industry,” says Shankar, who is currently the curriculum co-ordinator at the Shankar Mahadevan Academy, an online university of music, founded by the musician.
(Padma Shankar to perform on December 17)
His Sufiana roots
Abhay Sopori has inherited a profound sense of music from the Sufiana gharana of Kashmir. He belongs to the Sopori family, who have been playing the santoor for more than 300 years now. The young Sopori has learnt to play the instrument from his grandfather, Pt Shamboo Nath and his father Pt Bhajan Sopori.
He is known for creating a new generation of music lovers across the country and bringing more recognition to the music and culture of Jammu and Kashmir. The musician, who has been conferred with both national as well as international awards, says, “Performing in Pune with my father is a great privilege, especially when it is on a stage like Sawai. The Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav has been blessed with the presence of all the maestros of Indian classical music. Hence it is an absolute honour to be invited to perform on this stage.”
(Santoor player Abhay Sopori to play on December 16)
A birthday gift from god
Prachee Shah, a popular face on Indian television, also holds a Masters degree in kathak. Shah, who first started learning the art form at the age of three, holds a Guinness World Record, for 93 twirls in one minute. A highly accomplished kathak dancer of the Jaipur gharana, Shah has studied the dance form from Guru Ganesh Hiralalji.
“I have done more than 300 kathak performances all across the globe. But it is a dream come true to perform at Sawai, since I was born in this city, and also because dance performances are a small part of the mahotsav. I have met the late Pandit Bhimsen Joshiji once and sought his blessings, so I feel even more connected to the stage.Performing in my city, at Sawai, is a birthday gift that I have received from god,” says the danseuse, who has been appointed as the ‘Cultural Ambassador for Solo Kathak’ performances by Government of India.
(Danseuse Prachee Shah will perform on December 16)
Indian slide-guitar looks to impress
The pioneer of the Indian slide-guitar, Pt Debashish Bhattacharya is blessed by the genes of his musical ancestors. No wonder he has designed the critically acclaimed variants of the guitars — Chaturangui, Gandharvi and Anandi. He says, “I consider myself blessed to have been trained by the world renowned vocalist, Guru Pt Ajoy Chakrabarty, Pt Brij Bhushan Kabra and late Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.”
Bhattacharya, who has been lauded with awards, both national as well as international, says, “My single motive is to introduce more usage of the Indian slide-guitar in our rich classical music. So far, I have been able to train more than 100 students in the Indian slide-guitar.”
Talking about his performance at Sawai, Bhattacharya says, “Performing at Sawai is an absolute honour and I wold have not missed it for the world. I hope the audience listens to my recital of the Indian slide-guitar whole-heartedly, without a preoccupied mind, so that they are able to connect with the chords that are being played. I will also present ancient temple music.”
(Pt Debashish Bhattacharya to play on December 13)
ST Reader Service
The five-day Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav will be held from December 13 to 17 on the grounds of New English School, Raman Baug