Chhandayan’s Delightful Musical Evening

By Samar K. Saha       e-mail: 

The lovers of Hindustani Classical music were in for an autumn treat on the weekend of November 14, 2009. Chhandayan, with grant support from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, presented a memorable evening of Hindustani classical vocal music at the Graduate School of Public Health auditorium in Oakland.  

Sandip Ghosh

The highlight of the show was a vocal presentation by Pt. Sandip Ghosh of Kolkata, well supported by Pt. Samir Chatterjee, Director of Chhandayan, on the tabla.  Dipanjan Das of Pittsburgh provided the vocal and the harmonium support. 

 His first presentation was a bara khayal in the raga Bihag.  The gift of Sandip Ghosh’s melodious voice was detectable as soon as he started his Alap setting the listeners in a relaxed mood. As the presentation moved into jor, the serene and reposeful feeling of the raga was engulfing the whole auditorium. The Bandish Jiske Dil Par Gujri started in vilambit ektal with a romantic mood and this feeling kept on building up through swift, bold, and intricate tans as the tabla took the bandish into a higher tempo sitarkhani beat.  Ghosh finished the raga in a tarana that was both mesmerizing and intoxicating.  The standing ovation at the end was the singer’s reward for a well rendered presentation. 

The listeners were in for more with his next piece – a chhota hhayal in raga Jog Kaus.  Peeray Parai… was presented in a classic Kirana style.  The finishing piece was “Mohe Lagi Lagan Guru Charanan Ki” — a  bhajan in raga Shyam Kalyan in Teen Tal.

Nidrita Mitra Sinha and Soumya Chakraverty on the Sarod

The other part of the evening presented at the beginning of the program was a jugalbandi – a vocal presentation by Nidrita Mitra Sinha of Pittsburgh and Soumya Chakraverty of Virginia on Sarod. Asish Sinha and Debupriya Nayak accompanied the artistes on the tabla. 

We have heard jugalbandis before; but a vocal–sarod jugalbandi is uncommon. Such a performance demands a lot of versatility and virtuosity since the nature of human voice and a music instrument like Sarod and their scales are so different. 

The artistes started with an early evening raga — Puriya Dhanashree with a slow meditative Alap moving onto Jor. The vilambit gat/bandish in addha tal  Mohe Lagi Lagan Guru Charanan Ki was finished with Shyam Shyam Ratata in drut teen tal. The duo presented their second composition – a bhajan in raga Desh in Dadra tal. The festive and joy-ous outburst of emotion of the raga poured out in this Shiva vandana Gale Bhujanga Bhashma Anga.

It was a courageous jugalbandi experiment. It would be an accomplishment if the artistes can carry this experiment to a level when the voice and the instrument fuse and merge with each other. The resonant tone of the Sarod was missing in this part of the show. It sounded too tinny. It was not clear if this was due to improper sound mixing or due to instrument tuning.   

This scribe hated to see the evening end. His only regret was the poor turn up. Chhandayan should be hailed for bringing such an enjoyable program. Pittsburgh residents should be urged not to miss out on such a beautiful program. After all, the Indian classical music based on melody and rhythm is one of India’s biggest contributions to the world.  n

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