Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Shivaratri at Sri Selva Vinayakar Temple

Last weekend we celebrated Mahashivaratri (Great Shiva's Night) by attending and participating in a musical function at Sri Selva Vinayakar (Ganesh) South Indian Temple in South Maclean, about 45 minutes south of Brisbane. 

Accompanying Susmitha Ravi's student group
 Accompanying Vijaya Visvanathan and students
 Performance by Ashu Babu Memorial Tabla School - Jesinthan, Rhea and Shen.
Programme: Jesinthan's solo, Rhea's solo, Shen's solo, tabla trio in keherva

This was our first family outing since Saraswati-chan was born. Following the musical programme we attended the puja in the temple and took blessings for our new baby and new family.

United Nations of Indian Classical Music at BEMAC

At long last the date for the rescheduled United Nations of Indian Classical Music concert in Brisbane came around! Following the sell-out Mullumbimby concert on Jan 26, the previously scheduled Brisbane concert on Jan 27 was blown away by Cyclone Oswald. (We had a little home concert that night.)  One month later, Saturday Feb 23, turned out to be a big success and well worth the wait.

The weather was certainly on our side. After the cyclone in January and despite continuing rain in the weeks around the rescheduled date, the day of the concert itself was fine and warm.

Yuki opened with Dhrupad in Raga Yaman, Dhamar (14 beats) and Sooltaal (10 beats), accompanied by myself on tabla. Prof Huib Schippers especially complimented her on her achievement after just 5 years studies in Dhrupad.

Mathuja Bavan gave a beautiful Bharat Natyam performance of 3 short pieces, and several audience members later commented that it was the best Bharat Natyam they had ever seen.

Tahir Qawwal and his wife Barbi were accompanied in several pieces - khyal, geet, Qawwali - by excellent Sydney-based tabla player Maharshi Raval.  I think this might have been the most popular item of the evening - Tahir sold out of all the CDs he brought.

During the break the audience were served complimentary chai and samosas courtesy of Sitar Restaurant.

After the break Mathuja gave another 10 minute performance, which was followed by the jugalbandi between Vinod Prasanna (bansuri) and Saikat Bhattacharya (sitar), accompanied on tabla by both Maharshi and myself. Maharshi played a high D tabla and I played an octave below, which created a nice texture to the percussive accompaniment.  Vinod invited the audience to meditate together for a minute or so before starting a beautiful Raga Bageshri - alap, gats in vilambit, madhya lay and drut teentaal.

The programme closed with the bhajan "Om Jai Jagdish Hare", joined by all the musicians as well as the audience. In the final section "Jai Ram, Jai Ram", Mathuja appeared from side of stage and performed some lovely improvised dance.

Altogether we had 165 attendees (although some of those had bought tickets in support of the event despite not being able to attend). The atmosphere was buzzing and we received so many compliments on the quality of each performance and on the overall programming selection.
Thanks to BEMAC photographer Camilo Hernandez for these beautiful photos.

I hope now to build on this success and establish an annual Indian Classical Music Festival. With much more lead-time I hope to receive a wider range of sponsorship and funding to expand the event and continue to bring interstate artists to work with local artists.

Totally unexpectedly, the weekend became even more momentous for Yuki and I, as the following day Yuki went into labour and early Monday morning our beautiful daughter Saraswati Grace Flindell was born.

BSQ Saraswati Puja 2013

Following our inaugural Saraswati Puja home concert (on the actual date of Basant Panchami), the next day (Saturday) Bengali Society of Queensland held there annual function.  (Here are posts from previous years' functions: 2008, 2007.)  Here's a sample of the items presented:

The programme was opened by Sulagna Basu accompanied by her son (and my student) Tito.

I accompanied a young lady whose name escapes me now. I know she has been having Skype lessons with her guru-ji in India for several years and is progressing really very well. I was impressed with her rhythm sense, despite never practising with tabla - we performed completely impromptu.

 Rinki Bala gave a lovely Kathak dance performance.

There were some Bengali poetry and song performances. 

Saikat Bhattacharya (sitar) and myself at the end of the night.

Saraswati Puja home concert

There has been a home concert in my Guru-ji's house in Varanasi almost every year for at least 50 years, featuring many great artists and with all tabla accompaniment provided by students of Guru-ji. (Here are some blogs from previous years: 2011, 20102009, 2007, 2006.)  This year I started the same tradition at my home here in Brisbane. My senior students are ready to start accompanying in classical music and we have a great space at home for concerts. All the lads did quite well and hopefully got some motivation and inspiration to get more into practice with senior artists. It's one of the best ways to learn.

Yuki and I opened the concert however we don't have any photos of that. Too busy running around getting things set up!

Our altar to Saraswati-ma.

  Anju Ketheeswaran on sitar accompanied by her brother Jesinthan.

 Darshil Shah on bansuri accompanied by Tito Basu.

 Saikat Bhattacharya on sitar accompanied by Sanjey Sivaananthan.

We closed the night with a group tabla performance - a common occurrence at Guru-ji's house in Varanasi.

Festival of Tibet 2013

My good friend Tenzin Choegyal has been organising the Festival of Tibet at the Brisbane Powerhouse for several years now, and this year's festival he was well rewarded with all those years of hard work with each and every event being completely sold out. Well done Tenzin!  This year Tibet2Timbuk2 performed in the Visy Theatre on the Saturday night concert, along with the Tongues of Fire choir led by choirmistress Yani. Taro, Tenzin and I also played a song or two each with the choir which was really lovely.  Unfortunately I don't have any photos of the performances but here are some from the sound-check.

On the Sunday evening Taro and I played on the Turbine Platform as part of BEMAC's monthly Planet Series, which also featured some Tibetan singers. This was my last show with Taro before he headed back to Japan after a fun-filled 3 months in Australia. Thanks for coming Taro-san and Yuriko-san!