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Ragas of the Gods gets big thumbs up

The Indian Weekender, October 19, 2018

The Centennial Theatre at Auckland Boys Grammar School in Epsom reverberated with the pristine, divine sounds of traditional Indian music on the evening of Saturday, October 13.

The audience that stayed back to the very end of the four-and-a-half hour concert gave a big thumbs-up to Ragas of the Gods – a musical journey across India, presented by more than 20 homegrown artistes.

The musical journey that began in Amritsar in Punjab and coursed its way down peninsular India to end in Tanjore in southern Tamil Nadu featured a range of musical traditions through different ragas named after Hindu deities – which resonated well since it took place in the midst of the festive season.

Srishaa Iyer sings a bhajan with Navneel Prasad on tabla and Samir Bhalodkar on samvadini

The concert began with an invocation by singer Kanika Diesh followed by a scintillating performance by the students of Rhythm School of Music, who sand a Shabad in raga Ramkali in the unique Padtaal format, where the beat cycle changes with every subsequent verse of the lyric. The ensemble made for as delightful a visual impact as did their soulful singing.

The Shabad was followed by performances by Shrishaa Iyer (raga Bhairav), Siddhi Nigudkar (Ahir Bhairav), Mayuri Bhole (Durga) and young Vedant Kaduskar. For Vedant, it was a debut of sorts, performing on a public platform for the first ever time. He sang raga Parmeshwari with aplomb to repeated applause from the audience.

All the artistes were accompanied by Samvadini stalwart Samir Bhalodkar, the experienced table artiste Nikhil Ghate and the energetic Navneel Prasad (on tabla as well).

Mayur Tendulkar tunes his tanpura. He is accompanied by Sanjay Dixit on tabla and Samir Bhalodkar on samvadini. Mayuri Bhole plays the tanpura.

The seasoned singer and teacher Mayur Tendulkar sang two pieces pre-interval – raga Shree and a self-composed bandish in raga Shree-Kedar, that the discerning audience relished and applauded handsomely. Samir on Samvadini and Wellington’s Sanjay Dixit accompanied him.

Lester Silver’s post interval rendition of Misra Shivranjani set the tone for the second half. The Hamilton based art teacher, who has carved a niche for himself as an accomplished sitarist in Oceania played with great finesse to peals of applause for his virtuosity in the faster phases (drut) of his performance.

The popular singer Viraj Maki followed up with a bandish and the immortal Shankar-Jaikishan song based on the same raga – Jaane Kahan Gaye Wo Din.

The show’s big attraction was the north-south encounter between two of Auckland’s more accomplished musicians – vocalist Mayur Tendulkar and experienced violinist Ashok Malur. The two performed raga Saraswati in their respective Hindustani and Carnatic styles with great imagination and artistry – applauded repeatedly by the audience. Dr Malur also played raga Mohanam in memory of musicologist and author Mohan Nadkarni, in whose memory the annual concert was hosted.

The concert concluded with the timeless Meera bhajan Mhare Saavare Rangrachi in raga Bhairavi by Auckland’s respected singer, music teacher and concert organiser Sandhya Rao.

The unique format of the concert had commentaries by Dr Nilima Upadhyay and Kaustubh Pethe and a series of informative visuals that told the story behind the music on the screen that acted as a dynamic backdrop that was appreciated by the audience.

Ragas of the Gods was written and produced by Dev Nadkarni for the Mohan Nadkarni Foundation, which hosted the show in association with the Migrant Heritage Charitable Trust.

The trust has announced the setting up of a scholarship for New Zealand students to pursue performing arts education, with the details to be finalised soon.


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