The past week has seen a huge spike in Covid-19 cases across India and efforts to resume music festivals will now perhaps have to be relegated to the background at least until the vaccination rollout is well and truly in place. We will, however, continue to relive the music festival atmosphere through this column as we reimagine some concerts that were held as part of well-known festivals.
So far, we have listened to tracks featuring artists who performed in the first two sessions of the Dover Lane Music Conference held at Calcutta on December 31, 1954, and January 1, 1955. Today, we will include tracks that reimagine some of the music that may have been performed in the third and concluding session of this festival.
Held on January 2, 1955, the third session like the previous two was also scheduled to begin at 8.30 pm. Interestingly, two of the artists featured on the final day had been scheduled in the first two sessions too, a repetition that would be inconceivable in festivals organised now.
We begin our track list with a performance by sitar exponent Imrat Khan recorded in 1972 at the Playhouse Theatre in London. He plays a short aalaap or introductory movement and a vilambit or slow composition set to the 16-matra Teentaal in the raag Jhinjhoti. The recital ends at an accelerated pace. He is accompanied by the well-known tabla player Faiyaz Khan.
Vocalist Kausalya Manjeshwar, a representative of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana, sings the raag Bhoop Nat. She sings two compositions in this raag, the first set to vilambit Teentaal and the second to a medium tempo 16-matra Sitarkhani or Addha taal.
The world-renowned sitar maestro Ravi Shankar presents the raag Kaunsi Kanada (also referred to as Kaunshi Kanada or Kaushi Kanada). The detailed aalaap is followed by a gat or instrumental composition set to the seven-matra Rupak.
The path-breaking vocalist and founder of the Indore gharana Amir Khan sings two compositions in the raag Abhogi, the first in the ten-matra Jhaptaal and the second in the 12-matra Ektaal.
We conclude this episode with a rendition of the raag Bhairavi by sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan. The first composition is set to the six-matra Dadra followed by a faster composition in Teentaal.
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.