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In the stillness of the night there is….Magic in the Air

Submitted by on May 25, 2011 – 8:06 pm3 Comments

The Chhandayan all night concert has become a hallmark as the annual Indian classical event in New York. This year marked the 12th year, and I think this certainly was one of the best of many years that I attended.

The first thing I like about this event is the venue. Like in the past, the organizers always manage to choose very unique and apt venues. In the past it used to take place on the beautiful Synod church in Amsterdam Ave, now it’s organized at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, another beautiful & serene venue.

As one of the top artists that night, Veena Sahashrabuddhe, pointed out, it is a beautiful hall with a natural reverb making it a pleasure for wrists to perform. That says it all.

Well that’s much said about the venue, the audience was simply a wonderful group, obviously that includes me… :). But truly, it’s a beautiful audience, many extremely passionate about music, and fully energetic all through this really soulful night.

Soulful? Well, don’t know what else to say, every year, I come with a slight anxiety whether I will make it through the night, and I always end up totally refreshed each morning, with an energy ready to take on the world.

Also, what a beautiful place to network. You can really mingle with the who’s who here. I had wonderful conversations with other vocalists like Mitali Bhawmik, Lalita Mathur and other musicians like harmonium maestro Kedar Naphade. Also to be seen were musicians and teachers from near and far, such as Pt. Jasraj School of music, LearnQuest Acadamy etc.

Well, getting to the performers on this electrifying night, the night started with Rabindra Sangeet. Honestly, this was never one that had me interested. In fact I heard another one a few weeks ago at Boston, and found it slow and monotonous. But, this group was different, This performance of ‘Rabi-Shashtriya’, by the varied but talented team comprising of Anirban Dasgupta (sarod), Stanley Scott, Tandra Das and Samarth Nagarkar (vocal), Stephen Cellucci and Kedarnath Havaldar (tabla), Trina Basu (violin), was really a great start for the night. Nice introductions of all the songs by Stephan, varied songs and tempo and they even threw in a song that had a Carnatic flavor written by Rabindranath Tagore made this something the audience really enjoyed.

Chandayan_Alam Khan, Veena Sahashrabuddhe & kaushiki

Chhandayan - All night concert

Following this was Bidushi Veena Sahashrabuddhe – vocal recital. Though it certainly was not her best performance ( she seemed to have had some difficulty with her voice possibly due to a throat infection) but she certainly thrilled the audience with a ragamala comprising of 14 raags which she rendered beautifully, seamlessly transitioning between the raags.
Sanjay Abhyankar’s concert was really heartwarming. His Chandrakauns & Marwa was so beautiful to hear. Shujat Khan with his occasional ghazal like voice interspersing his sitar recital was thoroughly entertaining. Alam Khan showed sparks of his lineage, being the son of the great Ali Akbar Khan. He was simply enthralling to say the least and under him the Sarod almost spoke.

I had to keep Kuashiki Chakraborty to the last, because she was simply mesmerizing. The freshness she brought in her performance kept the audience stupefied. Her ability to elaborate on taans was simply a treat to all of us. She rendered Raag Abhogi, and one could see it was a very different recital where she skillfully mixes the differing styles of North and South Indian vocal music.
She brought out the beauty and voice control of Hindustani mixed with the complex permutations of Carnatic music. When I met her after the recital and praised her rendering of Abhogi, she indicated that she had also learnt carnatic music. That explains the differentiating way she rendered her recital.
Another highlight was that she brought out the best from Kedar Naphade who accompanied her on the harmonium. It just goes to prove that when an artist enjoys and engages with accompanists, the result is truly an excellent concert. Her concert was truly a delight and the long standing ovation she received was really something she deserved completely.

So as you can see overall one beautiful soulful night, wished it never ended, and all of us left with wanting more. For the music lovers who missed this concert, I think you missed an opportunity to hear some of the finest artists of today. I would strongly suggest you don’t miss this event the next year.
I have to end this blog congratulating Samir Chatterjee for organizing such a beautiful event year after year. I know this is no easy feat and kudos to Chhandayan and the volunteers who make this happen.


  • Vijaya Katti says:

    Wow! what a great all night musical experience you had Dileep.It feels good to know how mesmerizing the singers rendered each raag at Chhandayan. Definitely agree on your suggestion not to miss such a soulful concert in future.Thanks for updating all the musical events that are taking place around.Your blog has been very informative to all the music lovers.


  • Chandreyee says:

    It was truly a magical evening. The line up was unbelievable. Hope we get to attend many more evenings and nights like that. Thanks once again to Samirji for organizing such an event.

  • Dileep says:

    Chandreyee & Vijaya, thank you both for your comments.
    I fully agree- sincere thanks should go to Samirji for organizing such a unique event. I would add that it was a bold risk he took to try out an all night event, and it paid off handsomely to us music lovers.

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