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Ashwini spellbinds discerning Auckland audience

One of India’s foremost Hindustani classical vocalists to ever grace New Zealand shores held a discerning Auckland audience spellbound by her sheer virtuosity last Saturday.

Vidushi Dr Ashwini Bhide Deshpande presented an eclectic mix of pure classical, devotional and lighter varieties of Hindustani music in her repertoire that had audiences asking for more.

Beginning the evening with an elaborate exploration in the pensive raga Marwa, she followed up with a composition in raga Pratiksha finishing the first session with a Marathi bhajan. In the second half she sang a classic but comparatively rarely sung raga Bihagda, which for many discerning listeners was the highpoint of the evening. Later, she went on to present lighter varieties like Jhoola concluding the concert with a soulful Kabir bhajan.

The concert concluded with a lengthy standing ovation for Ashwini and her young accompanists Yati Bhagwat on tabla and Siddhesh Bicholkar on the harmonium. The audience praised the performance in superlative terms as can be seen on social media posts.

Hosted by the Auckland based Mohan Nadkarni Foundation as part of its third memorial concert in memory of musicologist, author and critic Mohan Nadkarni who lived his final years in New Zealand, Saturday’s concert was followed up with a workshop and lecture demonstration on Sunday. More than 60 students and enthusiasts attended the free of cost, three-hour session, immersing themselves in the opportunity to learn from such a great musician.

Ashwini sings in the traditional Jaipur-Atrauli gharana’s style and is today one of its leading lights. Raised in a musical family and taught initially by her mother, she went on to study under the tutelage of other great masters while yet pursuing her academic studies. She holds a PhD in biochemistry from the prestigious Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai.

She has won a string of national and state awards in India ever since she began performing on the concert stage at the tender age of 16 and sung at venues across the world. She has also been part of several innovative music-teaching projects in Scandinavian countries and other institutions in different parts of the world.

It is rare that an artiste of Ashwini’s calibre is heard live in New Zealand. Connoisseurs travelled from Hamilton, Tauranga, Palmerston North and even Sydney to listen to her last Saturday.

Earlier, the celebrated artiste was interviewed live on The Indian Weekender and HummFM.

Watch The Promo

Originally posted on Indian Weekender


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