Here’s a glance at the recently concluded 65th Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav
As the Hindustani Classical vocalist, Anand Bhate, sang Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma it was nothing short of a heavenly experience. Everyone felt elated, the famous bhajan bringing back memories of the late Bharat Ratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi.
This was only one of the many mesmerizing performances, at the recently concluded 65th Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav. The nip in the air did not deter the music lovers in any way. So, the old were seen wearing shawls or in sweaters, and the young grabbed their jackets and pullovers, women flaunting their colorful stoles, too.
One of the biggest Indian Classical Music Festivals in the world, this edition lasted from December 13 to 17. Every year the sprawling Ramanbaug ground sees hundreds of thousands of music aficionados attending the festival, organized by Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal.
A few performances will definitely remain etched in the minds of classical music lovers for long. First timer at Sawai, young santoor player, Abhay Sopori, stole everyone’s heart. By the end of his performance, the audiences were on their feet, pleading for an encore. Thus, respecting their request, Sopori played a lovely, quintessential Kashmiri composition, in Sufiyana Tarana.
It was a treat to listen to the two distinguished Carnatic violinists, Maestro Kala Ramnath and Padma Shankar. Surprisingly, Shankar played the abhang, Maze Maher Pandhari, for the first time ever. Adding to the spiritual experience was everyone’s favorite, 91-year-old, taal player Mauli Takalkar. Renowned sitar player, Kushal Das’ performance was memorable too.
As the last day commenced with the young vocalist, Mahesh Kale’s performance, the youngsters seemed jubilant. Before starting with his National award-winning song, Sur Niragas Ho, he expressed, “Mala vaatla hay gaana tumchya sarvanchya arpan karun jaave (I thought I must dedicate this song to you all before leaving).” It was no surprise then, that he received a standing ovation. Well, he took no time to click a selfie with the throng of the standing audiences, seen in the backdrop. The young spirit that is!
This year there was an interesting line-up of both veteran and young musicians. In total 28 artists performed this year. To name a few, vocalists such as Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar, Swarayogini Dr. Prabha Atre, Kaushiki Chakraborty, Samrat Pandit, Bhuvanesh Komkali, Gayatri Vairagkar Joshi, and instrumentalists like veteran flutist, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, and sitarist Ustad Shujaat Khan. Actor/ danseuse Prachi Shah looked beautiful in her radiant red attire as she performed Kathak compositions on December 16.
Classical music lovers’ hearts are content with classical notes for now. Until the next year, fondly cherish the memories.