As we witness the gradual return of music festivals in some cities, hopefully with safety precautions in place, we continue our mini-series reimagining the music presented at such events several decades ago.
Last week, we heard tracks featuring Hindustani musicians who had performed in the first session of the famed Dover Lane Music Conference in Calcutta way back on December 31, 1954. In this episode, we feature the artists who performed at the second session of the festival held on January 1, 1955. The episodes in this series attempt to recreate the musical environment of this and other festivals during those years in the absence of live concert recordings of these sessions. Instead, we use concert recordings or radio broadcasts to create a sense of the times.
We begin with the Banaras gharana maestro Kishan Maharaj. He was the fourth artist in the second session that was scheduled to begin at 8.30 pm. He presents a tabla solo in the 16-matra Teentaal. Shriram Hasabnis provides harmonium accompaniment.
The next artiste was the venerated vocalist AT Kanan. The following track has his rendition of the raag Marubihag, which as per the accompanying text was recorded at a live concert held in 1965. The vilambit or slow composition is set to the 12-matra Ektaal and the drut or fast composition to Teentaal.
World-renowned sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, scheduled to perform thereafter, plays the raag Rageshree on the next track. After the aalaap or introductory movement, he plays a composition set to the seven-matra Rupak. He is accompanied by noted tabla exponent Kanai Datta.
One of the most prominent vocalists of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana, Kesarbai Kerkar sings a vilambit composition set to Teentaal in the raag Malkauns, which she accelerates towards the end.
The souvenir of the festival mentions that the second session came to a close with a shehnai recital. We end our episode with a performance by well-known shehnai exponent Ali Ahmed Hussain. He presents a composition set to medium-tempo Teentaal in the raag Bhairavi.
One of India’s leading tabla players, Aneesh Pradhan is a widely recognised performer, teacher, composer and scholar of Hindustani music. Visit his website here.