Monday, January 26, 2004

hindustani classical music as an appetizer

Had the chance to see the Schwartz Centre at Emory last Saturday. Specifically the Emerson Concert Hall, which is a joy to be in. The back of the stage is comprised of a set of steps and the artistes were generously and precisely lit from ceiling lights. Good acoustics. The evening belonged to Kakoli Bandhopadhyay accompanied by Prasunpani Bhattacharya on tabalaa. The programme opened up with an exploration of puryaa dhaanashrii. This was to be followed by one of chaarukeshii. However, a minor change gave us kalaavatii instead. Then came the intermission by which time several things came to light: (a) the tabalaa was badly miked: all we heard was the daggaa and that gave the accompaniment the general air of superficial talcum powder (b) each rendition was too brief to merit a rewarding experience. The 2 hour format fit the ASO recitals, but after all my recent ICMS attendances, I could see its inability to address indian classical music. This perfunctory packaging was a minor betrayal. The turnout was quite large and seemed to comprise mostly of members of the regular Schwartz series, who were curious about Indian music. Clearly, their interests were better served than ours. That minor quibble aside, more rewards came from the second half of the performance: first from a rendition in baageshrii followed by a raagamaala centred around mishra piiluu (after making piiluu mishraa, you can't really get more generic can you?). The tabalaa problem persisted and another interesting thing came to light: a decorative deceptive version of the vilambit phase. This phase is usually dominated by melodic exploration (unless it's an instrumental jugalbandii in which case both percussionist and instrumentalist exploit the opportunity to shine) and the accompanist has the responsibility of maintaining order. What we got was beat patterns interpolated within the regular counts of the taal, leaving the sitar as the only indication that we weren't in dhrut yet. These strange reactions aside, it was a good opening for the year. The ICMS concerts are a couple of months away, so I'll grab what I can get in the mean time.

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