With one more week still to go , as I ponder and look back at the year gone by , my mind goes back straight to Jan 1 when the 62nd Sawai “resumed” , welcoming the new year with Purbayan Chaterjee’s Sitar. The year has ended again with 63rd Sawai, treating connoisseurs with a feast of classical music. No complaints dear 2015 !
While arriving at the artist of this year 2015 , I was remembering past 2-3 years of various concerts that I attended and the artists that enchanted me each year. Going back all the way to pre 2012 era, I had been listening a lot to Sanjeev Abhyankar , a lot of instrumental music, classical masters of bygone days in various recordings. With my early interests in instrumental music , “Tempered scale” music of Bollywood , Rock , Jazz and most importantly Blue Grass , I was relatively a late entrant to the “live classical concert music” scene. In fact I had been a vocal critique of the boring “Khyaal”gayaki that lasted for hours and hours and had preferred recorded music instead. Not an enthusiastic participant to many of classical concerts that I had attended earlier in Pune including many Sawais. Sawai 2011 was turning point after I heard the recording of Shankar Mahadevan. 2012 was again a boring kind of Sawai with some spread of younger bright artists but still brought me back to liking of Hindustani Classical vocal putting my huge recording collection to use , giving me a better perspective of modern classical vocal music ! Year 2013 was truly the one when I had already become a fan of classical vocal music.
Jayteerth Mewundi of Kirana gharana , Vijay Sardeshmukh of “Kumar” Gharana and Vijay Koparkar had become my favorites. 2013 Sawai took me to the liking of Patiala Gharana when I heard Pt Ajay Chakravarty and Kaushiki Chakravarti at Sawai 2013. The other young Kirana prodigy that I was impressed with was Kumar Mardur of Kirana gharana. He is one bright spot to look forward to in the future.
2013-2014-2015, I could attend numerous classical concerts all over India, the most memorable being the week long Ut Rahimat Khan festival at Dharwad. The gayaki of Ut Mubarak Ali Khan at 62nd Sawai has impressed me a lot along with his shagird Amjad Ali Khan. The Sitar of Ut Nishat Khan and Purbayan Chaterjee, Sarangi of Pt Dhruba Ghosh are some of the best musical memories of 2014 concerts.
Like the year 2014, the year 2015 has been good in terms of the number of live classical concerts that I could attend. The most impressive of the vocalists of 2015 for me was Pt Venkatesh Kumar. He is in one of the finest forms this year and has the kind of mix of melodious Kirana gaayaki with the blend of Patiala style of Ut Bade Gulam Ali Khan. I have been an audience to many of his concerts in last two years. His ease of singing, taans, ability to quickly bring out the mood (bhaav) of a raag or bandish is exceptional. He is at a stage where he has achieved the perfect balance between “Tayyari”(तैयारी ) and “Theharaav” (ठेहराव ) that is gained with knowledge, age and taalim.
For me, Pt M Venkatesh Kumar is my artist of the year 2015. His Miya-Malhar concert of October 11th 2015, is one of the best Miya-Malhars I have heard. It was one of the most blissful experiences as an audience of classical music. I would put it in my list of most enchanting concerts that include :
1) Pt Ajay Chakravarty’s Bhairavi concert of 2013 Sawai Sunday , Dec 14, 2013 at 61st Sawai
2) Ut Nishat Khan’s Lalat and Bhairavi on Dec 6,2014 morning at Ut Rahimat Khan Festival , Dharwad
3) Ut Mubarak Ali Khan’s Multaani on Jan 4th ,2015 at 62nd Sawai.
I am content with my musical experiences of year 2014 and 2015. Looking forward to year 2016 for more blissful experiences !