A feast for music lovers

Come November and there is a 'virtual' gala feast of online concerts and dances. The world of the arts is resigned to the season being more or less confined to the virtual medium though there are exceptions; the Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan festival in Chennai standing out.

Kolkata based Swar Samrat Festival, in its 9th year is taking to the virtual world to hold its largest festival, spread over 4 months, with 36 concerts, recorded in 5 cities, starting from November 1. Tickets are available on Bookmyshow; Rs 1000 entitles one to all 36 concerts. The fare on offer includes as diverse artists as the Bharatanatyam dance sensation Rukmini Vijayakumar from Bangalore, the most respected vocalist Ulhas Kashalkar from Pune, (incidentally his first musical offering this season) and a percussion extravaganza by none other than Bickram Ghosh from Kolkata.

Innovative, some never before jugalbandis include Jayanthi Kumaresh, vainika in the Carnatic idiom paired with Pravin Godkhindi, flautist in the North India tradition, Deepak Kshirsagar and Abhay Nayampalli on guitar in North and South styles, Maihar gharana exponents Ayan Sengupta on sitar and Pratik Shrivastav on sarod, Senia Shahjahanpur gharana exponents Sugato Nag on sitar and Prattyush Bannerji on sarod, and Debopriya Chatterji on flute and Nandini Shankar on violin (incidentally, both are part of the popular female band "Sakhi" started by Kaushiki Chakravorty.) Other young able artists include vocalists Aditya Khandwe, Brajeshwar Mukherji and the amazing teenager Anubhav Khamaru. Seasoned "stars" include Dr N Rajam, Dr Ashwini Bhide, Sanjeev Abhyankar, Kushal Das, Kaushiki Chakravorty, Mysore Nagaraj and Manjunath, and Bahauddin Dagar. Tejendra Narayan Mazumdar, the organiser confessed "From making arrangements of tickets, hotel, auditorium and publicity, we have now this year had to learn about video shoots, sound equipment suppliers in different cities, sanitisation of venues, and the logistics of the streaming process. The safety of my artist friends is our responsibility; but I also wanted to give my audience variety and not confine myself to the one city I am familiar with, Kolkata. Its truly been a learning experience."

Subhendra Rao, senior disciple of Bharat Ratna Ravi Shankar and wife Saskia are holding a unique informative monthly series which will be available for an online audience as well as a very limited, Live baithak experience, in Delhi. Called "#UnlockTheMusic, the series will also offer information on the art form; the tradition and the practitioner which will be made available to several teaching institutions as well. There will also be an interactive session after each concert between the audience and artist. The carefully curated artists representing diverse traditions are Dhrupad, Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar, the incomparable dancer Sonal Mansingh, flute Pravin Godkhindi, slide guitar Grammy nominee Debashish Bhattacharya, khayal vocalist Madhup Mudgal and jugalbandi sitar cello, by Subhendra and Saskia Rao. Tickets are available online.

Banyan Tree is offering Carnatic music concerts, streamed through the portal "" Amazingly the 5 concerts featuring well known artists like Sudha Raghunathan and Abishek Raghuram are priced at a modest Rs 199 for 5 concerts. Mahesh Babu, the brains behind Banyan Tree shared "we want to nurture the online audience, so are offering concerts at this modest price."

Kuchipudi duo Raja Radha Reddy are celebrating 25 years of their Natya Tarangini, by streaming quality performances weekly through November, including those of giants like late Kishori Amonkar, Kelucharan Mohapatra, Dr Balmuralikrishna, and current stars Vyjanthimala Bali, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Alarmel Valli, and Dr L Subramaniam. These will be available free on YouTube.

Indeed, the classical arts are flourishing in the virtual world.

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