Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Various concerts I saw in Varanasi

My time in Varanasi for the year has come to a close again - I'm writing all of todays blogs from back home in Brisbane. Here are a few photos of some concerts I attended while there..

Feb 1: Home concert with Ritwik Sanyal, Ganga-ji and Toon-ji
Dr Ritwik Sanyal is a very prominent teacher of Dhrupad vocal in Varanasi. As well as teaching at Benares Hindu University (BHU), he has many foreign students who spend several months a year there. We attended this home concert which he gave with 30 veteran vichitra veena player Ganga-ji from Italy (he lives in Assisi, Italy and Assi, Varanasi) and pakhawaj accompanist Shrikant Toon-ji Maharaj. Very nice.

Feb 22 (Shivaratri): Latchu Maharaj tabla solo
The family of Late Pt Kishan Maharaj organise this 3 night concert opposite the Durga Temple around Shivaratri every year. Kishan-ji passed away last year so this year was the first Shivaratri since his passing, so the concert was dedicated to him - that's his picture on the stage backdrop. Latchu Maharaj rarely performs so his tabla solo was eagerly awaited. He's an odd character... Other highlights of the weekend were Niladri Kumar (death metal classical sitar?) and then the Dhrupad Mela down the road at Tulsi Ghat, with finale by Ustad Sayeedudin Dagar.

Mar 14: Gulab Bari with Rajan-Sajan Mishra
This is another annual concert, held just after Holi (Festival of Colours), in the opulent home of a local businessman. It's a very special event. Gents are requested to wear white, ladies pink. Gents are presented with a special hat and dupatta (mini-shawl), and ladies with a floral hairband. Attendants roam the venue throwing rose petals and spraying rose water. Rajan and Sajan Mishra are very senior members of the classical community and the concert was packed.

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