We are all very proud!

We had a wonderful experience last Saturday, 25th August. The invitation card, The Embassy of India had sent us, had promised us an unique programme and so it was! It was a concert titled 'India's Musical Heritage - A tribute to the Great Poet Saints'. I believe that those who heard the concert felt that they understood, at least in those wonderful moments, what it was to be an Indian and how music has helped to hold us together as a nation these 60 years as well as implant a consciousness of our being 'Indian' throughout centuries.

The concert was held to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of India's Independence and the 60th anniversary of establishment of India-Thai diplomatic relations. H.E. Latha Reddy, Ambassador of India, when she spoke informally to congratulate the artists said it was 'One of the best, why the best programme I have attended in Bangkok!'. She spoke for all of us who stood up to applaud. She was also very gracious to acknowledge that it was Tara's idea which she accepted as soon as it was suggested. She spoke of the different languages, the different religions and the different styles of music, which all of us are familiar with, were put together so beautifully and effectively. It was also unique as it was a concert by the amateur artists who reside in Bangkok. We had of course Archanaji who joined her students as an equal. It reminded me of Thyagaraja Aradhana in Thiruvayyar where there is no stage set and the best of the artists sing along with the throng of music lovers, who all are seated in the same level in the Pandal. I think all will agree when I say that the artists really sang well and they excelled and even surprised themselves with their performance. They were all different in their styles and they were all good and rightly deserved the spontaneous standing ovation they received at the end of the program.

We must really thank the Ambassador for her recognition of the local talent and for encouraging them on such a platform. She felt this concert deserved a larger audience and she was sure that they would be heard again by more and more people here and in India as well. I am sure with her best wishes and offices this will happen. The embassy did a wonderful job in organising this program. We must also acknowledge Mrs. Azad of the Indian Women's club for her significant contribution to the success of the program.

Tara received a number of phone calls congratulating her. Dolly (Koghar) put it beautifully in her mail and I am too happy to quote her: hi, last nights programme was fabulous. hats off to you for having organized it. though the languages were not familiar, but each of you rendered truth and devotion to each of those saints longing and love for the universal god that each soul harbors but is not able to express. thanks to the programme we both came home with a feeling that yes indeed there has to be a God to enable for so much beauty in just simple notes ... that became sounds pouring forth from the soul itself.. (She speaks of the Screen at the back) the backdrop helped make it more tangible..for even though some names were familiar, it was good to be able to relate to their language and their land of birth and time. and of course needless to add that you sing with tenderness and gentleness that is anyway and always you.....

And Manik Desai had this to say..Now you can add to the blog about the excellent "dream come true" of Tara at the NIST auditorium yesterday. Eager to read about it as well.
(Thanks Manik, I appreciate your interest and encouragement.) It is indeed a dream come true for Tara. It is a culmination of many years of yearning to do something for music here in Bangkok.

I will digress a little before introducing the artists! Some one said that they forgot to include the spouses' support while thanking those others who make the program a success! While we did not do anything for this particular program, we the spices of life of the artists, apart from missing them for the long hours they need to practice, also help them to arrange a program. Amateur artists here not only perform, they invite people to attend, cook dinners to feed the companions of the invitees, pay the accompanying artists, if they are lucky to get them and so on. If the program is in a party hall of a building, the husbands or wives of the artists, help carry stuff to the hall, set up systems, arrange for refreshments. Finally they thank the invitees profusely for taking the trouble to attend, patiently wait for the last enthusiastic music lover to leave and again help in dismantling and lugging things to the car or the apartment! (The story about arranging a concert of this type is long and merits a blog! May be another time!)

It is now time to introduce the various artists, I am borrowing plenty from Gayathri's text she used for compering the program! Her compering scaled great heights and contributed highly in enhancing the quality of the program. In fact, it was as soothing as the music she so ably introduced! I also quote from the well made handout (again Gayathri Rao! She is a teacher at RIS.) given along with the Invitation.

Guru Archana Kanhare, a much admired and respected Hindustani classical vocalist from Mumbai, chose a composition, Theeratha vittala, Kshetra bittala, of poet Namdev (c.1270 - c.1350 A.D). His abhangs in Marathi are inspiring in their devotional fervor. This was ably brought out by Archanaji, an honored teacher and artist, and a recepient of many national and international awards and a visiting teacher at the Activity center of the Women's club. It is interesting to note that 'As many as sixty-one of Namdev's hymns are included in the Guru Granth Sahib'.

Aruna Bagga rendered a composition in honor of Guru Nanak, born 20 oct 1469, founder of Sikhism, Nanak Gal Vich Aya. Aruni, always with a ready smile, gave a thoughtful presentation truly reflecting the message of the guru, 'Devotion of thought and excellance of conduct as the first of the duties'. I was impressed that all the artists covered their heads as a mark of respect to the Guru. Audience were requested not to applaud after the song, but those who forgot and applauded, I am sure, will be forgiven as it sounded so good!

“Shabads” are holy hymns that are an integral part of worship in the Gurdwaras. The shabad is in Punjabi and is a composition of Bhai Gurdasji. It reflects the emotion and spirit of a deeply humane, humble, and caring leader and mentor, Guru Nanak Devji, who in his travels all over the country and outside over a period of 27 years, inspired in people the will to live in peace and serenity.

Chandrali R. Choudary, a teacher at the Global Indian International School and Durba Kar combined to give us this unique song from Bengal, Dhoke No Shomironu, compsed by Kazi Nazrul Islam (born 24 May, 1899)– the melody, lyrics, the style of rendering, and the language itself – all the components came together to create an absolute treat, a fusion of Hindustani classical with folk music.

MeeraBai ( born 1577 or 1499 in Rajasthan) is considered the embodiment of selfless devotion and this bhajan, Sakhiri Main Giridhar Ki Rang Rachi , a devotional song in Hindi, is an expression of her surrender to Lord Krishna. Chatarbir Kaur truly evoked the feeling of Meerabai’s dedication through her clear and potent style.

All forms of classical music demand perfection and precision from the artists. This piece by Thyagaraaja (Born in 1767) in Telugu, a perfect example of the skill required to address the variations of rhythm, pace, and emotion. Janaki Balaji, who hails from a family of erstwhile Carnatic musicians and her interpretation of this song, Samaja Vara Gamana, demonstrated her expertise in this musical form. Thyagaraaja reknowned as one of the Music Trinity of carnatic music, is known for 'Bhakti' in his compositions; poetic excellence and spritual values.

Manjiri Annachhatre, also a teacher - at the school in the Asian Institute of Technology - , and blessed with a tremendously emotive style, presented this composition in Hindi, Ghat Ghat Mein. Sant Kabir, (born in 1398) a saint in every sense of the word, compiled an incredible number of devotional masterpieces that form the essence of contemporary devotional music programs.

Raghavendra Rao, working at Femina Lace, blessed with a voice that completely lends itself to the dignity and purity of this powerful composition, Yadava Nee Ba, enthralled us. This well-known composition in Kannada is typical of the beauty and simplicity of Purandhara Dasa’s (Born in 1494) style. I was really transported back to the river bank in Hampi where he had resided. I could feel the stillness of the river and the surroundings in his singing!

Rajesh Vasudevan, at the Modern International School of Bangkok joined Tara Srinidhi, a teacher at the New International School of Thailand to sing compositions of Adi Shankara (Born in 686, attained Mahasamadhi in 718) . These masterpieces, Ganesha Pancharatnam, Bhaja Govindam are included in the everyday prayers in homes all over India. Deeply devotional and spiritual poems in Sanskrit are dedicated to Lord Ganesha and Lord Vishnu. The program began with these as traditionally we invoke Lord Ganesha at the begining of any function and this set the tone for the whole evening.

Tara sang a composition of Jayadeva, born in Orissa c.1200 A.d., Natha hare' Jagannath hare'. I think she did it for her mother, in her memory, who would have been inordinately proud on this day. She also joined with Aruni to sing 'Vaishnav Jana Tho', composition of Narasinh Mehta (born in 1408). A favouite of Mahatma Gandhi, they both sang this beautifully along with the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra years ago!
Ravinder Kaur gave us this wonderfully enlivening song in Sindhi, that invokes in the listener, the passion and fervour of dedication to an all-encompassing higher entity. Ravinder, a teacher of music at the Indian Women’s Activities Center, with her commanding and expressive voice, took this composition, Lal Meri Path Rakhiyo Balao Jhoole Laalun, to heights that touch the soul.

There are no words that can adequately describe the emotions that are inspired through the stunning lyrics and music associated with the work of Sufi composers. We are truly appreciative of Viji Hashim, who did an extraordinary job of presenting this lovely piece,Yaad Naa Bhikha, in Urdu. It was pure ecstasy as the whole group of singers joined her and so did many in the audience. A sufi is defined as one, who has submitted to the will of god, who lives in union with god and who has devoted himself to god.
The composition of Tulsidas ( born in 1589 or 1532 A.D in Uttar Pradesh) Shri Ramachandra sung with true serenity by Tara helped to calm us down and the program concluded with Buddhist chants that could be considered synonymous with the spirits of the saints whose compositions, created to add meaning to the lives of mortals, we all enjoyed and loved for an hour and a half.

A vital, critical component of this concert were the instrumental accompaniments. And we were truly fortunate to have talented and accomplished musicians to support the vocalists.
The Taar Shenai is a soulful & melodious instrument and Mayya Singhji, a music teacher at the Gurdwara is one a very few artists to have perfected it.
Shripad Rajguru, on the Tabla, is a disciple of Pandit Suresh Talwalkar, the renowned tabla exponent. Shri Shripad teaches at the Indian Women’s Activities Center. The tabla is what provides the rhythm and sets the mood of the music and Shripad Rajguru, an expert on it, had truly contributed to making this evening a special one.
Also on the tabla was Manop Kalra, a young, dedicated, and talented musician.
The harmonium is an extension of the vocalist’s voice, style, and emotion, and in order to ably support the vocalist, in-depth knowledge of every nuance of the raagas and talas, the skill to accompany diverse artists, and a remarkably intense level of concentration become essential facets. We were privileged to have an artist of Dinesh Namjoshi’s calibre in our midst. Dinesh works with the Ikebana company.The Mridangam is the equivalent of the tabla and is usually heard in the Carnatic style of Indian Classical Music. Krishnan, who works with the Six Senses company, is a gifted and versatile artist who is adept at accompanying any form of classical music and a willing contributor.
(We missed Shrinivas Rao and Mukti, who were so much part of our cultural activity.)
We would like to thank two young people who prepared the presentation we saw projected at the back: Sagnik & Vinay.

There are numerous people at the Indian Embassy who have been involved in organizing the event – the logistics of time, place, hand-outs, and so many other big and small details. And to them our grateful thanks.

We are also very grateful to Khun Mehta and Joiti Roy, she also sings very well, who worked hard to ensure that the sound and light system functioned without any hitch. Tara tells me that the first rehearsal they had with the sound system was very discouraging! What we heard was so well balanced that it illustrates the real dedication of the people who are not seen!


Rohini said…
Hi appa,
Thanks for documenting the event for us. Congrats to amma & all the participants. Sounds like we missed a wonderful event...I wish we could get a video recording of it!

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