A global rhythm ensemble

Belonging to the tradition of Pandit Omkarnath Thakur, the doyen of Gwalior Gharana, the Sontakkes’ contribution to music is immeasurable

Published: 05th December 2013 08:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th December 2013 08:07 AM   |  A+A-

For two decades, they were two of the most popular music teachers of Bangalore. Dr Rajabhau Sontakke and Dr Mani Sontakke have left behind a veritable treasure of performers and teachers across the globe whom they have mentored, including prominent figures in the music industry. Belonging to the hoary tradition of Pandit Omkarnath Thakur, the doyen of Gwalior Gharana, the Sontakkes’ contribution to the global music scene in India and abroad has been immense in keeping alive the Indian music tradition. 

Paying tribute to this illustrious couple, the Sontakke Global Music Festival 2013 is being held from December 15 to 25 at various venues across Bangalore and hopes to bring all forms of music across multiple genres on to a single platform and celebrate the universal joy of music. Hosting top international acts performing jazz, blues and pop music while also fusing it with Hindustani classical, Carnatic classical, folk and other myriad styles to create a magical experience for music lovers, it will be this year’s major music event and may prove to be a treat for many music lovers in the city.

Speaking to City Express, a noted musician in Bangalore opines, “As Samuel Johnson said, ‘Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance,’ and this rings true for Pandit Rajabhau Sontakke who was the epitome of dedication and perseverance. A veritable encyclopedia on the Hindustani Ragadari system of music (encompassing its science and history), he was one of the foremost disciples of Pandit Omkarnath Thakur.”

Pandit Sontakke, a

leading light of the Gwalior gharana, kept up the rich tradition of bhava-poorna gayaki of his guru and propagated it through his students.

A classical vocalist and a gifted violin artiste, his journey of music was arduous, ridden with challenges and obstacles. Afflicted by progressive blindness since the age of ten, his perseverance and hard work took him to the pinnacle of success,

albeit supported by his wife Dr Mani Sontakke. She helped him in every way to get his doctorate in music as well as cope up with a world that had gone completely dark.

Learning and teaching music in Benares for a long period, the Sontakkes came down to Bangalore to establish the Hindustani Sangeet Vidyapeeth as Dr Mani felt that there was a need to demystify classical music and encourage people to take up music as a profession.

She wanted to see musicians publish and prosper from their works, said her son Prakash Sontakke, a renowned Jazz and World Music artist and added, “A doctorate in music and a master’s degree in 13 instruments, she could play many string and wind instruments ranging from Hawaiian Guitar, Dilruba, Taar Shenai to Sheesh Tarang. An avid collector of hundreds of instruments, she also believed that tradition was never status quo and, in fact, always evolving.”

Outlining the focus of the ten-day festival, Prakash further said, “This is an open invitation for interaction with global musicians. The workshop will demystify the whole harmonic progression and chordal theory, and help in understanding how to handle western collaborations. With Indian music going global, I feel my parents' desire will be fulfilled in a way through this festival, which will have performances, workshops, demonstrations and an opportunity to interact with artistes of different genres of music.”

Musicians from Norway, UK and Denmark with bands and groups like Food as well as Indian musicians like Manasi Prasad, Praveen Godkhindi, Ramkant Gundecha, Jagadeesh Madhuri, M D Pallavi, Chaitra Sontakke, M K Tejasvini, Ustad Fayyaz Khan, Anoor Anantkrishna Sharma, Thermal & A Quarter and a host of others will be taking part and performing at various venues so that everybody gets to see, hear and interact with them.

Organised by Hindustani Sangeet Vidyapeeth Trust and supported by Shankar Mahadevan Academy and Octavium Academy, the festival is also raising funds for Children’s Diabetes Relief of NIMHANS.


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