Wednesday, September 02, 2020

The Last Concert? Pts Sugato Nag and Abhijit Banerjee

Remember March 2020? It was a time of great change and uncertainty, as COVID-19 started spreading exponentially around Australia. At the start of the month we had heard of it on the news. By the end of the month we were in lockdown.

So, what a time for me to be organising what was intended to be the biggest Indian classical concert of the year for Brisbane: "Master Musicians of Kolkata" featuring Pt Sugato Nag (sitar) and Pt Abhijit Banerjee (tabla), two great masters who were in Australia for the inaugural Melbourne Hindustani Classical Music Festival, held on the weekend of March 7. The organisers of that festival were incredibly lucky in their timing, as it was unaffected by the virus. (Many thanks to MHCMS for their hard work!)  A week later in Brisbane, though, and audiences were too worried to buy tickets. 

In the end, March 13 saw a decent crowd at Queensland Multicultural Centre, not as big as I'd hoped, but big enough to make it work. It was the launch event for our new non-profit entity, Qld Sangeet Mela Association (QSMA), for whose support I'm very grateful. Hopefully QSMA will have the chance to undertake more activities some time next year...

It was a truly marvellous concert, and all who attended really felt blessed for the opportunity. A select few also benefited from sitar and tabla workshops the next morning. We didn't really understand at the time how golden an opportunity it was: Looking at COVID numbers in India now, I can't imagine we will be hosting artists from India for a year or two, if not much longer.

Tabla workshop with Pt Abhijit Banerjee.

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