The Capital city’s annual cultural calendar is dotted with a number of classical dance festivals. But for the connoisseurs of classical music, the scenario has been quite depressing with just three - the annual national music festival hosted by the 47-year-old Bhubaneswar Music Circle (BMC), the Rajarani annual national music festival staged by the Department of Tourism in association with the BMC and the Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra memorial festival of dance and music. Thus, BMC’s annual festival continues to be the much-awaited annual affair for the connoisseurs.
The three-day festival staged at Rabindra Mandap in Bhubaneswar last week by BMC was exciting with representation of the three major music traditions of India - Carnatic, Hindustani and Odissi. And the festival wisely featured artistes - both the stalwarts and the promising - besides the local talents.
The three stalwarts representing the three traditions - New Delhi-based celebrated Hindustani musician Pandit L K Pandit, Odissi maestro Pandit Damodar Hota and Carnatic violinist Vidwan Sriram Parsuram - were the obvious attractions for the connoisseurs and the trio did not disappoint them. Hota at 75 and Pandit at 66 defied age and staged their recitals with youthful zest that pleasantly surprised all.
Hota’s concert during the inaugural evening revealed the rarely heard repertoire of Odissi music that belongs to Puri and that evolved as part of the Jagannath temple tradition. The old man’s captivating concert exhibited the striking similarities and the distinct differences that Odissi music possesses in comparisons to the two other ancient music traditions of India.
Performing during the second evening, New Delhi-based celebrated musician and scholar of Gwalior gharana, L K Pandit’s recital was a befitting tribute to Odisha’s 12th century saint-poet Jayadev.
His rendition of an ‘astapadi’ from the Gita Gobinda in the ‘khayal gayaki’ style of Gwalior gharana revealed how Gita Gobinda influenced the oldest gharana of the Hindustani classical music. Pandit’s two-hour concert also comprised a captivating recital of raga Bhupali, Chaturanga - his own composition combining four kinds of bols and sargam, a thumri and a Kabir bhajan.
Much to the cheer of the audience, the concluding evening of the festival featured violinist Sriram Parsuram who is equally adept in Carnatic and the Hindustani styles of music.
The musician, who won President’s medal in 1986 for both the styles and mastered the western pattern of violin recital besides doing his doctoral research on world music, showed how Indian classical music traditions evolved from the same source and achieved distinct identity through different stylistic and aesthetic presentations. While he presented raga Sree accompanied by the Hinduatni percussion instrument of tabla, his rendition of raga Hamsadhwani had the Carnatic percussion instrument of mridangam.
The find of the festival this year was Kolkata-based budding and brilliant Hindustani vocalist Kaushiki Deesikan. In her first ever concert in the city, she left a lasting imprint on the connoisseurs with her mesmerising rendition of the raga Maru Bihag followed by a thumri and a Meera bhajan. Continuing with its tradition of presenting Orissa’s talents in its annual festival, BMC featured Bhubaneswar-based young Hindustani vocalist Charulata Nayak who impressed with her unique voice as she presented raga Bageshri while the other city-based tabla player Tapas Pal staged Rhythm Symphony - an instrumental concert with eight percussionists of the city that he conceived and directed. It included traditional Indian percussion instruments like the mardal, mridanga, khol, dholak, naal and khanjani.
Despite featuring the fabulous artistes, BMC’s festival this year received a lukewarm response from the city’s music lovers apparently owing to lack of due publicity. A large number of empty seats often greeted the artistes much to the embarrassment of the hosts.