One of the unique feature of Pune’s classical music culture is the series of music festivals held one after other on the weekends of Winter ( typically Dec-Jan of every year) at the same venue .. the grounds of New English School , Ramanbaug. Popularly known as Ramanbag, located in the heart of city in the busy and crowded Shanivar Peth. The first and the most prestigious of all these festivals , being Sawai ,that is almost 63 years old.
The SwarZankar festival is relatively young , in its 6th year and getting popular. This year the festival is over the weekend of 9th-10th-11th Jan , Friday to Sunday.
The first day of SwarZankar had good lineup of artists. Anand Bhate , popularly known as Anand Gandharva a torch bearer and one of the principal disciples of Pt Bhimsen Joshi and Kirana Gharana opened the festival with traditional bandish in Puriya Dhanaashree in Vilambit … “Paar karo arj mori” ( पार करो अर्ज मोरी ) and continued with the drut classical bandish of Kirana and Panditji … “Paayaliyaa Zankar mori” ( पायलिया झंकार मोरी )
In a conversation with the audience , he described the greatness of his guru and various aspects of his gaayaki. Highlighting the tradition of Kirana Gharana and the traditional gaayaki of Panditji he sang a very traditional Thumri of Abdul Karim Khan saheb ( the doyen of Kirana Gharana ) … Jaadu bhare nainaa tore ( जादू भरे नैना तोरे ) . Thumri is no not that typically associated with the Kirana tradition (which is more of Khyaal) . He sang this thumri to highlight the wide spectrum of training he had received from Pt Bhimsen Joshi.
The next presentation from him was a pad (पद) from an old sangit naatak (Sant Tulsidas) .. Man ho Ram rangi rangale ( मन हो राम रंगी रंगले ). Anand Bhate concluded the concert with a medley of Abhangwani (अभंग वाणी ) that included “Namaacha Gajar” (नामाचा गजर) , “Yaaj saathi kela hota attahaas” (याज साठी केला होता अट्टाहास) , “Anuraniyaa Thokadaa” (अणुरणीया थोकडा) and finally “Maze Maher Pandhari” (माझे माहेर पंढरी )
Devaki Pandit was the next artist who started her presentation with a rare raag “Amrut-Varshini” composed by her guru Pt Jitendra Abhisheki popularly known as Abhishekibua , in Vilambit bandish “Aaad Anaada” (आद अनाद ) and drut “Ka sang kinhi prit , aiso reet piya ki samajhat nahi” ( का संग किन्ही प्रीत , ऐसो रीत पिया कि समझत नाही )
She explained to the audience how Abhisheki bua experimented with various types of musical genres .. Hindustani Classical , semi-classical , Carnatic, Natya-sangit , music direction , Cinema etc. To highlight her training from Abhishekibua she sang a bandish in Charukeshi ( which is a Carnatic raag popularized by Abhisheki bua in Hindustani singing) .. “Mora man baskar linyo shyam” (मोरा मन बस्कर लिन्यो श्याम ).
Her next presentation “He suranno chandra vhaa” (हे सुरांनो चंद्र व्हा ) was one of the superlative presentations , an hallmark of Abhishekibua. She concluded with a superb bhajan ” ek sur charachar chayoji ” (एक सूर चाराचर छायो जी )
A perfect complementary accompaniment was provided to both the vocalists by Prashant Pandav on Tabla and Tanmay Deochake on Harmonium.
The final concert of the day was a duet by Pt Ronu Majumdar on Flute and Pt Atulkumar Upadhye on Violins accompanied by Pt Ramdas Palsule on Tabla. This was a wonderful , short but sweet concert that started with alaap in raag Jog , then jod and zhala. As mentioned by Pt Ronu Majumdar in a conversation with audience quoting Bade Gulam Ali Khan sahab “समय कि पाबंदी अच्छे संगीत को नाही रोक सकती” .. ( Time constrain should not be an hindrance to good music)
The 45 minutes concert ended by 10.15 pm with soft bhajans .. “Raghupati Raghav Rajaram ” (रघुपती राघव राजाराम ) and “Vaishnav Jan to tene kahiyeje” (वैष्णव जन तो ) to end the Day 1 of the 6th Swar Zankar Music Festival.
The Swar Zankar Music Festival to me , resembles like a mini-Sawai , that helps in weaning from the “Sawai hangover” in a weeks time. The food stalls lack the quality of that of Sawai , but are crowded due to inexpensive food items available in plenty. The uniqueness of this festival is however that there is one painter who paints live while the artists are performing on stage. That is something that could be called as “Trade Mark” !