12 January, 2011

Concert in Dewas in memory of Pandit Kumar Gandharva

Here I am, sitting in my hotel room in Dewas. Its the morning after my concert last night in Dewas in memory of the legendary singer, Pandit Kumar Gandharva. I have a train to catch at 5pm back to Delhi and my family and I look forward to seeing Saskia and Ishaan. I miss them even if I am away for just 2 days.

Last night was indeed one of my most memorable concerts. Playing in such a gathering where the audience can shake hands with you, sitting right in front of the artiste, where everyone is there because he/she wants to listen to the music, other wonderful musicians also sitting and listening and most important--in memory of a great singer. These luminaries are India's treasure and I have grown up listening to these great artistes. I was very happy when Kalapiniji invited me to perform this year and I was eagerly looking forward to it. I arrived here in Dewas straight from Bangalore where I had performed the previous evening with Saskia at Infosys. Drove 2hrs straight to the airport, caught a flight to Mumbai, spent 5hrs at the airport to catch my connecting flight to Indore at 6am. No sleep the whole night and surely was tired when I reached here. Slept a few hours and woke up with nightmares(or was it daymares since it was 10am). I was dreaming that I woke up at 9pm and the concert was supposed to start at 7pm--dreamt that my sitar was broken on the flight and there was no way I could perform. Dont know what these dreams meant but slowly, I got out of that horrible feeling and when I took my sitar, I felt a huge sense of relief. After a little while of playing, I decided that I would start the concert with Raga Hemant and maybe play Mishra Pilu or Manj Khanmaj after Hemant.

I reached the house where the concert was happening at about 7:30 when Kalapini ji asked me what I was planning on performing. When I told her that I would perhaps start with Hemant, she said that she had a special request and if I could play Baageshwari since it was a long time since anyone had performed it there. So, I decided to play Baageshwari instead of Hemant. In the audience was Vasundra Tai, Bhuvanesh Bhai and many other musicians and music lovers. Even as I started tuning on stage, I got this very special feeling and no words can describe this feeling. After a long time, I played without looking at my watch. These days, we are told by the organizers not to exceed an hour or maximum and hour and a half. I do understand the modern day constraints and am happy to respect it but there should be some concerts where there is no time restriction for the artiste since in our music, it takes about an hour for us to start feeling each note. The alaap, jod, jhala went on for over an hour. Soumen Sarkar, a wonderful young Tabla player from Kolkata was accompanying me and I decided to play Rupak Tala followed by Drut Ek Tala. He too was in a great mood and it was such a beautiful game we played on stage--each challenging the other, each appreciating the other. Sometime during the concert, I cut my second finger and it had started bleeding but I was totolly lost in the beauty of the moment to even notice it. It was only after I finished the concert that I started feeling the pain and realized that I had cut my finger badly. The second Raga I performed was Manj Khamaj and when I finished the concert, it was after 11pm. People were willing to listen more but aware of the fact that it was a weekday and people did have to go for work next morning, I decided to end it then.

These are the kind of concerts why I do this music. The beautiful feeling of letting go of everything and just enjoy the depth of this music, feeling each note deep within. Now I am beginning to understand what these great artistes mean when they say that music is an ocean and the deeper you go, the more you realize how little you know. The response from the knowledgeable audience, some who had heard my Guru in his prime and drawing comparisons with him, their blessings---indeed this is something I shall treasure all my life. No reason why we cannot have more such concerts where the artiste can express his deepest self to a hungry audience.

Have an exciting next few months ahead--US, Kennedy Center, Canada, Mexico, Europe and IRAN. I hope that I can continue to write and share some wonderful moments with you.

God bless.

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