Sawai GandharvaFirst time at Sawai Gandharva yesterday. I decided to finally sample the biggest music programme of the year in Pune as part of increasing my consciousness of Hindustani classical music. I don't have any formal knowledge and have been slowly dipping myself in the aural offerings.
When Nikhil and I got to the venue, we had missed Shrinivas Joshi (Bhimsen Joshi's son) but entered to Kala Ramnath's violin performance. This was followed by a disciple of Shobha Gurtu's, Rajshri Pathak. The big name for the night was Pandit Jasraj, accompanied by Appa Jalgaonkar on the harmonium and the seemingly ubiquitous Vijay Ghate on the tabla.
One thing I've always observed is that on most occasions, the big names do have that something extra that distinguishes them from the second rung of performers. Pt. Jasraj was no different and you didn't have to know too many technicalities to get involved. This was also true of Appa Jalgaonkar's harmonium playing - I can't tell if any musician is making mistakes or what is the purity of his performance, but I can tell you if this was different and special. There were some breathtaking moments even for a layperson.
Pt. Jasraj ended with an appeal to listeners to promote Indian classical and raised the bogey of the music channels and the pop scene - this always makes me uncomfortable. There are some issues involved here - is interest in such art forms flagging below a critical level, if these channels weren't there, would their patrons necessarily switch to classical music, what can musicians and patrons do more than simply lament the passage of time, etc. Such issues are true of many genres, and though people think preservation is important and can't be left to the ravages of commercial interests, the blanket blaming of commerce isn't the best option, methinks.
I was happily surprised at the proficient organisation at the venue - the additional screens and the TVs at appropriate distance intervals made it quite comfortable even for us in the "bhaaratiya baiThak"s.
Update: Harish's experiences