Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Various concerts in Benares

A few snaps of some concerts I've attended in Varanasi over the last few weeks...

Pt Pushpraj Koshti (surbahar) from Mumbai, opened the concert series at the Ganges View Hotel, a very stylish setting for Indian Classical Music.

Pt Pushpraj Koshti (surbahar) accompanied by Shrikant "Toon-ji" Mishra (pakhawaj - Varanasi).

Toon-ji brought a pakhawaj in the wrong key, which broke when he tried to tune it up, resulting in him having to leave for another instrument during the first composition by Pushpraj-ji. Very unfortunate.

Pundlik Bhagwat giving tabla solo in Rudra Taal (11 beats), accompanied by Vallabh "Bhaiyan-ji" Gujrati on harmonium. The tabla solo was very strong and confident - Pundlik Bhagwat is playing very well and is one of the top players in the city nowadays. Bhaiyan-ji invited me to his house to practise tabla solo together. He is a very fine lehera accompanist.

Ram Kumar Mishra performing tabla solo accompanied by Santosh Mishra on sarangi. Very glamorous. Ram Kumar is a relative of Pt Anokhelal Mishra and very much follows his style of tabla solo presentation.

Devashish Dey performing at Ganges View Hotel with Soumya Kant Mukherjee on tabla and Bhaiyan-ji (not in shot) on harmonium

Pt Amarnath Mishra (sitar) accompanied by Kuber Nath Mishra (tabla) at Ganges View Hotel - a very sweet concert.

You can also read reports of some of these concerts by Canadian tabla player Shawn Mativetsky at his blog, Benares Chronicles, Part 1. 日本語で、ユキちゃんのブログポスト、「音の世界への導き 」。

Benares Gharana historical excursion

I have known Canadian tabla player Shawn Mativetsky via the Chandrakantha tabla forum, online reputation and emails for about 5 years, but this month we met in person for the first time, as he was in Benares to spend time with his guru-ji Pt Sharda Sahai, the gharanedar ("head") of the Benares Gharana of tabla. Shawn has an excellent website on the history of our style of tabla, with a family tree of gurus and students which shows us to be close cousins in the tabla family.

Shawn took me and my student Rob along for a Benares Gharana historical outing, firstly to meet his guru-ji at the family home, Pt Ram Sahai Bhavan in Kabir Chaura, and then to the home of our shared param-guru, Pt. Kanthe Maharaj.

Shen with Pt Sharda Sahai, Dr Frances Ann Shepherd and Shawn Mativetsky. As mentioned above Pt Sharda Sahai is the head of the Benares style of tabla. Dr Frances Ann Shepherd wrote a very famous thesis on the history and traditions of Benares tabla in the 70s, so I was also very excited to meet her.

Busts of the founding members of the Benares Gharana in Ram Sahai Bhavan. Left to right: Bhairov Sahai, Ram Sahai, Baldeo Sahai

The famous giant Ganesh-ji in the home of Pt Kanthe Maharaj and Pt Kishan Maharaj, with my student Rob for scale :-)

Shrine to Late Pt Kishan Maharaj, who passed away in March last year. This room features many photos, newspaper articles, sketches and all kinds of historical items.

Paying homage to my guru's guru, Pt Kanthe Maharaj

Pooran Maharaj, son of Late Pt Kishan Maharaj, sharing some stories and wisdom with Rob and the other gathered tabla devotees.

You can read Shawn's blog on this day in his blog post Benares Chronicles, Part 2.


After a few days in Bangkok I flew in to Delhi on Dec 1 and had a few days' lessons at Kathak Kendra with my senior guru-bhai, Govinda Chakraborty. Actually Govinda-da was quite busy that week so I mostly took some rhythms from his students in Basant Taal (9 beats), Ashtamangal (11 beats) and Dhamar (14 beats). It was great as always to be a part of a group of students, and I got a lot of great material to practise over the next while in Varanasi - and some renewed enthusiasm too!

I was lucky enough to get a right-side window seat on the flight from Bangkok to Delhi, and had magnificent Himalayan views most of the way.

Kathak Kendra in Delhi, the National Kathak Dance School, where I had tabla lessons from Dec 1-4

My fellow students at Kathak Kendra

The hardest working guy in the room, Shri Saeed-Ur-Rehman providing nagma on sarangi.

My senior guru-bhai and teacher in the last few years, Govinda Chakraborty and myself.

The platform at Rajiv Chowk on the Delhi Metro. For you old-timers who haven't been to Delhi for a few years, Rajiv Chowk is the new name for Connaught Circus. You can get around the city very quickly and cheaply on the Metro.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Test posting using Zoundry Raven

This is a test posting using Zoundry Raven, an offline blogging application.

If it works, it'll be much easier for me to get up to date in blogging my recent activities in India. I usually only have time to get to an internet cafe for an hour or so every couple of days...

 {Edit 02/08/2014: I've just found that, the website which Zoundry Raven arranged for my images to be hosted on, is no longer hosting them. Hence all the posts I made with this software have lost their pics! I'll try to fix it... Not happy with Zoundry Raven, nor imageshack.}

Here's a snap of myself, Bappa-da and Shawn Mativetsky playing tabla in my Guru-ji's house a couple of weeks back: