A melange of musicians

Sakal Times
Friday, 21 June 2019

We chat up some of the artists who are performing at the Sitar Nawaz Ustad Bale Khan Sangeet Mahotsav in the city this weekend

Music has always proved to be an easy escape from the chaos of life. It also serves as a nourishment for both mind and soul. One such musical escape is brought to the city this weekend by Suhana Basant Foundation in the form of Sitar Nawaz Ustad Bale Khan Sangeet Mahotsav.’

This is the second year of the annual classical music festival which is organised as a tribute to the notable sitar player Ustad Bale Khan by his son Rais Bale Khan, also a well-known sitar player of Dharwad Gharana. 

Ustad Bale Khan, a descendent of Sitar Ratna Rahimat Khan, got his initial training from his father Abdul Karim Khan. The Pancha Sitar’programme held by Ustadji and his brothers in the ’90s was most loved and cherished among music lovers. 

Says Rais Bale Khan, “This foundation was started three years ago to promote new talents and artists in classical music and increase interest among varied audiences by bringing something new to them. For this two-day event, which is a tribute to my father, we have come up with vocal recitals, classical instrumental music and jugalbandis.”

This event will have artists like Vidushi Gauri Pathare, Ustad Sarwar Hussain, Ustad Rafique Khan and Pt Jayateerth Mevundi performing on June 22 while on June 23, Ustad Arshad Ali Khan, Tejas Upadhye, Mohsin Khan and Pt Anand Bhate will perform. 

The recipient of Surmani Award”from Sur Singar Samsad, Rafique Khan is a notable sitar artist and composer of Dharwad Gharana. The artist, who will perform a jugalbandi with Pt Mevundi, has some interesting observations to make. “During jugalbandis, artists grow through the performance and present something new to the audiences. At times the two artists try to overpower each other which I personally do not prefer. I believe it is very important to focus on the art, the ragas and how well they can be presented. I keep these factors in mind when I am performing duets,” says Rafique Khan.

The temperaments of the artists who are performing together matters a lot too. “The artists should go in unison, there should be proper understanding between them, only then the duets are successful,” he says.

He stresses that the very nature of the artist reflects in his performance.

Speaking about the audiences, he says that understanding the nature of the audience is a challenge before the artists. “It is because the varied sets of audiences will have different expectations from artists. So in such situations, as an artist, we try to do some trial-and-error tests while performing. And while doing so, at some point, we get a response like ‘kya baat hai’. That is when we understand the nature of the audience. It is a spontaneous process,” he says.

Arshad Ali Khan, a known name in Hindustani classical music, boasts of the lineage of Abdul Wahid Khan and Abdul Karim Khan who are the principal Kirana Gharana musicians. “This event is very special to me, as I share family like relations with Rais Bale Khan. It is my honour to pay tribute to Bale Khan Sahab through my performance,” he says. 

When we ask him about his thoughts on World Music Day, he says, “For me everyday is Music Day as riyaaz forms an important part of my routine. It is our responsibility to take the art forward and contribute to it in our best capacity. This itself is a celebration.””

Refusing to differentiate between the various forms of music, he stresses that irrespective of the different trends and expressions of art, an artist must have a broad and open mind to see it objectively. 

Regarding the kind of ragas he selects before performing, he says, “I usually never decide anything beforehand as there might be an artist performing before me, presenting the same raga. So to avoid repetition, I select the ragas based on the time of the day I am performing.”” 

Under the tutelage of Padma Shri Ustad Abdul Latif Khan of Gwalior Gharana, his grandson Sarwar Hussain imbibed the art of playing Khayal Ang and Tappa on sarangi from a very young age. “I play complete khayal on sarangi. That was my taleem from the beginning,””he says when asked about his style of playing the string instrument.

Performing for self or for the audience is a question artists generally face. “It is very important to perform for the self, because if the artist enjoys it, only then the audience can feel it,” Sarwar Hussian says.

He adds that the audience is smart and knowledgeable. “We have varied sets of audiences and as an artist, it is important to focus on self study. Pune audience is learned, 90 per cent of them are artists and good listeners. When we get calls from Pune for performance, we mentally prepare ourselves before performing. There is a saying for a reason, Kansen nahi honge, toh Tansen ko sunega koun,” he says. 

Sarwar Hussain feels Music Day is a huge day for artists. “The roots come from classical music. Jo bhi sangeet hai, shastriya sangeet se hi nikla hai. The music grows not just by musicians but by audiences as well. I along with my sons intend to carry forward the tradition and serve the audience,” he concludes.

Sitar Nawaz Ustad Bale Khan Sangeet Mahotsav is being held at Shakuntala Jagannath Shetty Auditorium, Pandurang Colony, Erandwane on June 22 and 23 from 5 pm onwards. Entry passes will be available at the venue

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