Thursday, October 15, 2015

First credits for QCE in Indian Music

Article published in Brisbane Indian Times October 2015 edition:

 Thejan Elankayer of Pacific Pines, Gold Coast, has become the first student in Queensland to have Indian music exam results credited towards his Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE). The Indian Music and Dance examinations held by Pandit Ram Sahai Sangit Vidyalaya (PRSSV) were officially recognised by the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) earlier this year. Thejan achieved a Distinction in Grade 6 Tabla in the exams held in July.

Asked about tabla and PRSSV exams, Thejan said “Tabla has been a source of pleasure for me more than half my life for a number of reasons. For example, when I am distressed, I often play Tabla as it seems to have an uplifting effect. The PRSSV Tabla exams work effectively in providing a source of perspective and accomplishment. The vast pool of knowledge that is entwined within Tabla is practically boundless. When comparing what I have learnt to that pool, I often feel that what I’ve learnt is insignificant and can sometimes go so far as to be discouraged. The PRSSV Tabla exams are a great help in that area as each year I am constantly working towards the next grade. Upon finishing each exam, not only is there a sense of accomplishment bestowed within me, I also begin to feel that I am one step closer to that vast pool of knowledge.”

“I have 3 goals for my near future in Tabla, the first is of course complete the grade 8 (year 12 equivalent) PRSSV exam. My second goal would be to be awarded the Rising Star Award and perform at Sangeet Mela. My final near future goal would be to travel to India for a bit and absorb some of the culture and music straight from the roots. In regards to the long term for Tabla I would like to take as many opportunities as I can to further expand and enhance my relatively trivial amount of knowledge on the subject. I would also like to try my hand at teaching Tabla later. All in all, I plan on continuing working with this skill that I’ve worked on for the past 8 years.”

The next round of PRSSV Tabla Examinations are planned for late January 2016. As well as tabla, the recognised courses include Bansuri, Carnatic Vocal, Dhol, Harmonium, Hindustani Vocal, Kathak Dance, and Sitar. Music and dance teachers who are interested in presenting their students for PRSSV exams are requested to contact Shen Flindell by email at

Sangeet Mela 2015 - A glorious celebration of Indian Classical Culture

Article published in Brisbane Indian Times October 2015 edition, though with a smaller selection of photos:

September 19 saw Queensland Multicultural Centre hosting Sangeet Mela 2015, Australia's premiere festival dedicated to both Hindustani and Carnatic classical music and dance. The event was a big success, with the packed venue rejoicing in the resonant tones of sitar, violin, tabla, mridingam, vocals and much more from early afternoon until late in the night. The calibre of the performances was such that each new item was eagerly awaited.

Altar thanks to Usha and Sush Chivukula and various friends
The opening session highlighted the Sangeet Premi Rising Star Award winners – 5 young artists who were selected for their dedication to excellence in Indian classical arts. Congratulations to Mathuja Bavanendrakumar (Bharat Natyam), Sanjey Sivaananthan (tabla solo), Manbir Singh (Hindustani vocal), Roshini Sriram (Carnatic vocal) and Arthavan Selvanathan (mridangam) for their admirable efforts in reaching such high standards despite primarily growing up outside Mother India. The growing national reputation of Sangeet Mela and the Rising Star Awards was evidenced by the presence of Manbir Singh who flew up from Sydney at his own expense to receive the award.

Ku Mathuja Bavanendrakumar (Rising Star Award winner: Bharat Natyam)

Sri Sanjey Sivaananthan (Rising Star Award winner: Tabla), accompanied by Sri Adarshbir Singh (dilruba)

Sri Manbir Singh (Rising Star Award winner: Hindustani vocal - Sydney)

Ku Roshini Sriram (Rising Star Award winner: Carnatic vocal), accompanied by Sri Arthavan Selvanathan (Rising Star Award winner: miruthangam) and Sri Kranthi Kiran Mudigonda (violin - Sydney)

Roshini receiving Sangeet Premi Rising Star Award from Yousuf Alikhan 

Dr Indranil Chatterjee (sitar) with Sri Shen Flindell (tabla), enjoying completion of Raga Bhimpalassi in matta taal and teentaal.

We were graced with the presence of several international artists, starting with beautiful Bharat Natyam dance by Janani Ganapathi (Switzerland), immediately followed by one of the day's most popular items, a tabla solo by Pt Pooran Maharaj (Varanasi) who presented compositions in the traditional Benares Gharana style made famous by his father Pt Kishan Maharaj. Along the way local artists Dr Indranil Chatterjee (sitar) and Dr Mansey Kinarivala (vocal) matched the high standards of the visiting artists. Credit too must go to all the local and interstate accompanists including Joseph Abhay Nand (harmonium), Adarshbir Singh (dilruba) and Maharshi Raval (tabla – Sydney) who gave able support throughout the day.

Bharat Natyam dance by Ku Janani Ganapathi

Tabla solo by Pt Pooran Maharaj (Varanasi) - accompaniment by Sri Joseph Nand (harmonium, off-photo) and Sri Adarshbir Singh (dilruba), taali support by Sri Maharshi Raval and Sri Shen Flindell.

Carnatic flute recital by Sri Sridhar Chari (Melbourne)

Hindustani vocal recital by Dr Mansey Kinarivala.

Stalwart harmonium accompanist Sri Joseph Abhay Nand

The evening session opened with local Kathak dance star Dr Helena Joshi who dazzled the audience with dynamic spins and footwork, accompanied by a live ensemble of top local musicians led by tabla player Shen Flindell. Then followed sublime Hindustani vocals by Kumar Gaurav Kohli (Jalandhar) whose performance included an amazing Raga Mala effortlessly traversing 18 ragas in the space of a few minutes, and the festival closed with renowned Carnatic vocalist Smt Manda Sudharani (Vizag), with fantastic accompaniment by interstate artists Sridhar Chari (mridangam) and Kranthi Kiran Mudigonda (violin). We were really blessed to have such high level performers visiting us in Brisbane and it was only possible thanks to the growing reputation of Sangeet Mela as such a prestigious event.

Kathak dance by Dr Helena Joshi and live ensemble: Sri Shen Flindell (tabla), Smt Usha Chivukula (vocal), Sri Joseph Nand (harmonium), Sri Adarshbir Singh (dilruba), Sri Murali Ramakrishnan (bansuri).

Dr Helena Joshi (Kathak dance)

Kumar Gaurav Kohli (Hindustani vocal) gave a memorable performance.

Smt Manda Sudharani (Carnatic vocal)

Organisers EthnoSuperLounge and Sangeet Premi Club are grateful to all of our sponsors, volunteers, performers and of course the audience for supporting Indian classical music and its development in our region. We are optimistic that Sangeet Mela will continue to grow year by year and make Brisbane a focal point for Indian classical arts nationally.

Cast photo of those performers who could be there at the end!