Vasantotsav 2012

Last weekend, I attended my first classical concert in Pune in close to 3 years. Having attended a couple of concerts in Bombay, this was a welcome change. The venue was packed, and the atmosphere was awesome.

One major issue I have had with Vasantotsav in the past is Nana Patekar compering – which is always crass and totally lacking in class. The compere this time was not exactly brilliant, but was better than Nana Patekar on any day.

I missed the first day on account of not being in town. A little sad about that as I was really looking forward to seeing the Shahid Pervez and Rashid Khan jugalbandi.

The second day, had Swapan Chaudhary on tabla and a fusion concert with a number of musicians.

Swapan Chaudhary played for about one and a half hours with  one sarangi player (can’t recall his name right now). He demonstrated a few typical phrases from the Lucknow school and a few phrases as played by past greats like Ustad Moinuddin Khan and Ustad Abid Hussain Khan. He seemed a little out of touch and missed the starting beat a couple of times, but overall the performance was quite good.

The highlight of the day for me was the fusion concert. It had Rahul Deshpande on vocals, Shashank Subramanian on flute, George Brooks on saxophone, Vijay Ghate on tabla, a percussionist whose name I can’t remember (he has apparently arranged music for a number of people) and Rahul Solapurkar narrating. The theme was creating a relation between the concept of the 7 chakras, the 7 colours of the rainbow  and the 7 notes in music. Rahul Solapurkar narrated in chaste marathi, something that always impresses people in Pune. There were separate compositions on each chakra. I found most of the speech a little boring but that is only because I don’t buy into this chakra stuff. The music was awesome. The jugalbandi between Brooks and Subramanyam was out of this world. Brook’s own composition was amazing as well. I really like how he blends his jazz with Hindustani classical and just goes to show how close the two genres really are.

The third and final day, I had time only to attend the first act – another fusion concert.

This one had Niladri Kumar on sitar/electric sitar, Gino Banks on the drums, Sheldon D’souza on the bass guitar, Vijay Ghate on tabla, Agnelo Fernandes on keyboard with Deepak Pandit on the violin and Sheetal Kolwalkar and troupe also performing. The show started with an amazing sound check. Gino Banks involved the crowd and honestly this was mostly a rock concert. Hardly felt like a classical or a fusion concert. Niladri Kumar was ripping it on the electric sitar, Shedlon D’Souza was playing his 6 string bass slap-pops and all, Vijay Ghate, well, he was always a rock star. The only part of the performance that I did  not like was the part with the kathak dancers. I am not the biggest fan of involving dancers in a music show as invariably one or the other has to take the short end of the stick. Moreover the use of the synth and the recorded bols really put me off. The concert returned to its awesome self after this bit and several jugalbandis and solos later, they ended with a lovely rendition of Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram.

Due to travel commitments I had to leave the venue and could not see Pandit Rajan and Sajan Mishra, but I have already seen them once at Sawai, so no real problem there.

This is the beggining of a slew of great concerts – if all goes well, I will have seen Opeth, Remember Shakti and Buddy Guy in the next 3 weeks. So hopefully I will be able to blog a lot more about music as well.

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