He is pretty weak – one might say, fragile – these days. For the necessary movements, he prefers to walk on his own, holding on to wall and furniture rather than take human help. Failing eyesight makes it difficult for him to recognize people unless they come close under bright light. The speech falters and one wonders if he is meeting the famed musician and composer who carved his signature in playing Santoor and created a whole new choir based on Indian classical music. Pt. Omprakash Chourasiya, one of the senior players of Santoor, established Madhukali Vrind with the express of reviving the ancient tradition of orchestration and choral singing. Instead of Vedic hymns he chose poems of national poets. All these poets, in their own way, had contributed to enriching the modern Hindi language.
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In the condolence meeting organized at Madhukali premises, Bhopal, Founder Director Pt. Omprakash Chourasiya paid tribute to Madhukali patron Bharat Ratna, Pandit Ravishankar, whose loss is deeply mourned by classical music community. Pt. Chourasiya said, “Pandit Ravishankar ji would invariably meet with Guruji (Dr. Lalmani Misra) whenever he visited Varanasi. As disciples, we would maintain our distance, but still could learn a bit of plans about promotion and education of Indian music, the two would discuss. Pandit ji always loved us as his own.” Still later, he would call Pt. Chourasiya to ask after the affairs of Ustad Allauddin Khan Sangeet Academy. Once when during some bureaucratic restructuring, it was proposed to rename the music academy, Pt. Chourasiya sought advice of Pandit Ravishankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and other musicians. Ravishankar ji wrote a letter to Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Bajpeyi requesting not to take away the name of Baba from the only academy to be named after a musician. Thus, music academy in Madhya Pradesh still continues to be known as Ustad Allauddin Khan Sangeet Academy.
Dr. Ragini Trivedi considered his deep classicism as the bond between Pt. Ravishankar and her father. She fears that with Pandit ji’s passing away, Indian Classical Music may suffer setback in area of performance similar to that, it has undergone in area of academics after demise of her father, Dr. Lalmani Misra, Acharya Brahaspati and Thakur Jaidev Singh. It would be hard to find an artiste of similar stature who is committed to classical knowledge and enjoys global acclaim. She almost broke down, recalling how Ravishankar ji assured his friend and colleague that he would look after the children. He would send for them whenever he was in town, inquire about their progress, eagerly examining their fingers for string marks. Pandit ji flew to India on a short notice to bless the couple when Ragini was married in 1985. Dr. Kiran Deshpande recalled various interactions with Pandit ji – how he would put younger artistes at ease motivate them by example. Pt. Ramswaroop Ratonia tried to express his grief; he said, that Pandit ji’s presence is felt through his creativity in daily routine of Akashvani. Dr. Sudha Dixit marvelled at Panditji’s depth of understanding which gave him the ability to successfully use Karnatic Raga-s along with Hindustani equivalent.
Several members located across the country called to express their sorrow. Smita Tanshikar of Ahmednagar who learnt Misrabani had also come in contact with Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh the sole common disciple of Pt. Ravishankar and Annapurna ji. She helped maintain interaction between musicians in different locations. Young Santoor player Satyendra Solanki looked after the hurriedly called meeting at ‘Asthaa’, the Madhukali headquarter.
The year 2012 has taken its toll on Indian music. A complete generation of stalwarts bid adieu this year, leaving music colder stroke by stroke. With Ravishankar – a synonym for Sitar, Classicism and innovative orchestration – an era of tradition, experimentation and creation that always cherished melody and aesthetics, draws to a close.
Idea, practice, appreciation – this is the cycle involved in creation and enjoyment of art. Expression itself holds a great value in the artistic process. Change in external circumstances, in living conditions, have honed human skills and instincts. The aesthetic element manifesting itself through numerous practices had been taken for granted. It was only as we bid adieu to second millennium that need to protect and nurture this spirit was recognized. “Art as Vehicle of Intangible” was therefore chosen as topic worthy of artistic deliberations. Madhukali organized annual Omenad Conference on 31st December, 1st January and 2nd January 2011 with performances by various scholar-artistes leaving lasting impression on aficionados of Bhopal. Music lovers, scholars and enthusiasts had travelled from across country to attend conference and concerts during three-day event organized by Madhukali in collaboration with Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya. Several well-wishers and music-lovers had expressed their desire for organization of another such event and at cities other than Bhopal. In discussing the essence of Indian aesthetics in “Art as Vehicle of Intangible”, it had come out that more opportunities must be created for expression of art in keeping with sensibilities innate in Art, to effect course-correction.
In the domain of Indian Classical Music the urgency for safeguarding of traditional practices needs to be recognized. For it to be vehicle of intangible, Art needs to be regularly displayed. It was recognized that the there are two main areas where safeguarding efforts have to be directed.
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Performances by various artistes during Omenad Conference on 31st December, 1st January and 2nd January 2011 left a lasting impression on aficionados of Bhopal. Music lovers, scholars and enthusiasts travelled from across country to attend conference and concerts during three-day event organized by Madhukali in collaboration with Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya. Several well-wishers and music-lovers had expressed for another such event and at cities other than Bhopal.
In keeping with its philosophy to collaborate with like-minded bodies, Madhukali consented to cooperate with an upcoming cultural institution from Indore, Swar-Setu to present rare performances once again in both, Bhopal and Indore. Ethnomusicologist from Sonoma State University, Professor Laxmi Ganesh Tewari shall travel to India to perform in both cities. Madhukali, in all previous Omenad Annual Conferences had emphasized on the urgent need of safeguarding medieval and ancient Veena-s that over the past few decades have fast fallen into near obsolescence. The two forms of Veena that reached 20th century – Rudra Veena and Vichitra Veena – have almost disappeared in 21st. Generational scions alone may find motivation to master these challenging ancient instruments.
Vichitra Veena was almost in oblivion when Dr. Lalmani Misra took it up and crafted a complete style for string instruments — Misrabani. Misrabani grants the instrument a unique identity. The string is freed from following human voiceand brings out unique elements beyond vocal cords. After his death in 1979, son Gopal Shankar taught himself and perfected the art of Vichitra Veena. Ragini Trivedi moved by the silenced Veena after sad demise of brother Gopal in 1999, vowed to regain its voice and trained herself to play Vichitra Veena in Misrabani style. Baha’ud’din Mohiuddin Dagar son of famous musician Zia Mohiuddin Dagar was ingrained by his father to play Rudra Veena in dagarbani style. He represents the Dagar lineage. First generations musicians have always enriched musical traditions; the art gains stability with generational artistes. Today, when globalization is changing dreams, mores and opportunities, such artistes are needed to keep their artistic traditions vibrant and current. Dr. Laxmi Ganesh Tewari too was trained by Dr. Lalmani Misra and was first to record vocal rendering of Sameshwari – a Raga consecrated by Dr. Misra to keep the knowledge of Samic notes alive.
7th January 2012
Vichitra Veena – Dr. Ragini Trivedi (Daughter of Pt. Lalmani Misra) View Clip
Vocal Recital – Dr. Laxmi Ganesh Tewari (Santa Rosa, California)
Preetamlal Dua Sabhagrih
8th January 2012
RudraVeena – Bahauddin Dagar
Vocal Recital – Dr. Laxmi Ganesh Tewari
For further information and reports, visit http://www.facebook.com/Omenad
In the Fifth Session of the Intergovernmental Committee (5.COM) at Nairobi a decision was taken to focus attention and garner support at all levels for Safeguarding of ICH practices by celebrating the year 2013 as tenth anniversary of the Convention. Madhukali plans to organize events in spirit with the Convention. Suggestions for holding activities relating to music, dance and other arts that encourage appreciation, continuance and strengthening of ICH practices may be sent to ich at madukali.org.
Rashtriya Indira Gandhi Manav Sangrahalya and Madhukali organized three day Conference on the topic, Art as Vehicle of the Intangible on December 31st 2010, January 1st and 2nd 2011. Participants from various parts of India braved the cold and were rewarded by warmth of their mutual sincerity. The nature of “intangible” was examined from several viewpoints and yet it defied concretization. While all appreciated this endeavor as a strong first step, consensus was that at least another such conclave should be organized. The Ninad concerts were both, relief and extension of discussion. Ample time was granted to revise the papers, if necessary so that IGRMS may publish a volume based on deliberations.
A full report is available on Omenad. Clips, pictures, reactions are on Facebook
Indian art has been labeled as impersonal; it has been considered as a medium for sublimation of self or soul (Atma) thus attaining union with oversoul (Paramatma). As fundamentals of all – music, dance, drama, sculpture – can be traced to originate from the same root, despite different pace and mode of evolution, Indian art followed the same general principle – to express the universal through individual. Ideas, similar and contrary, have taken contemplation of art beyond such simplicity. Past few decades have swept in a multi-pronged fluid evaluation (non-) system that changes stances unpredictably. The only certainty accorded to art is its inability to exist without purpose; such is the demand for Art as commodity that its relationship to anything intangible is no longer considered worthy of thought.
In its essence Art is intangible and is the best medium for contemplation, expression and carriage of intangible. When a young pupil learns a musical composition, ostensibly he learns arrangements of sounds; the laws governing the Raga are automatically passed. As he sculpts a lotus or chakra in the hands of a particular deity, the artiste passes a complete body of philosophy often without realizing it. The positive use of a not-so-politically-correct phrase is a reflection on the age and not on the poet. In the post-modern age the form of Indian artistic practice is definitely undergoing a sea-change. Today when Art is gradually losing its identity independent of its response to economic forces – in subservience or resistance – how safe and strong are the practices to preserve the traditional dedication to celebration of the intangible? Shall Indian Art be able to retain its fundamental rules and appeal? Is it possible to modify musical instruments without loss of innate musicality? How far does contemporary art succeed in harmonizing temporal with eternal?