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The annual 2012 Sangeet Prabhat celebrates 21 years

Submitted by on April 24, 2012 – 12:25 am3 Comments

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The music lovers of New Jersey treat themselves, by welcoming Spring and heaving a agonized sigh of relief after filing their taxes annually to a day concert organized by Sangeet Prabhat.

As one of the organizers pointed out, Sangeet Prabhat is unique in 3 ways;
It caters to a whole morning, so totally focused on Morning Ragas.
It focuses on bringing the rising local stars to the forefront, and
It follows the Sunday after the last day for filing the taxes here in the USA.

Well, they certainly have one a commendable job, in keeping this tradition up for 21 years…. Yes 21 years.

You cannot dispute the organizers selection of musicians, you cannot find fault in their arrangements be it the auditorium or mike arrangements, nor can you find any lack of passion of the organizers, as I seem them on and behind the stages, year after year, and I personally know some of them too.

It’s an event, I look forward for every year for sure. The sheer exuberance of the young artists, the passion with which the perform, and just listening to previously less heard artists overall, is what I look for.

But, with all this said, there certainly is a drawback. I am certainly disappointed at the audience strength. I am not sure I can blame solely, the music enthusiasts of New Jersey, who are failing to show up. I think, the organizers could take some share of the blame too.

I think they need to be more innovative in addressing this issue of audience. They possibly need to extend their core of committee members. While the present members are experienced and very capable of bringing and upholding standards that the themselves have set, the call in present times is that of innovation, expansion and diversification for reach.

Maybe, they need a membership drive and programs that include blocking the 1st two rows for patrons, in lieu of donations. For example, they could seek a donation for a grand or more and provide reserved seating and recognition. The Cleveland Thyagaraja Committee did this with reasonable success.

Or, they could seek to add some youngsters, into their core committee and team and bring the benefits of social media to expand demographic reach. I do notice a lack of young volunteers.

Don’t get me wrong, the event by itself is a sure success, no one would dispute that, but given the stellar commitment of the present dedicated organizers to the propagation of Hindusthani music, I personally think, they could have more to show after 21 years.

Also, of course, we have to blame ourselves, we listeners seem to want everything, with little contribution. I think we all need to rise and support the IAPA to take it the next level.

We need to show commitment, help extend reach, and most importantly participate and attend concerts, with family and friends. If each of us can bring in one interested family into the fold of this wonderful association, we would have done our part by doubling the attendees. This is important to make such events continue to be successful, and more importantly to promote the growth of this wonderful heritage.

Let’s make that happen, I for one will make this commitment, to bring in more attendees.

Ok, let me move forward, and not forget the wonderful Sunday we listeners experienced and write about that.

Amidst the cloudy and wet rainy weather, the morning started with Sarbari Gangopadhyay (vocal). This young and talented singer, did one thing I simply loved. She dared to be different.

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She started her performance with a Dhrupad in Raag Bhairav. Yes, Dhrupad, I simply loved this difference she brought in. First, I think Dhrupad by itself is simply divine to hear, second, I know many of the audience had never heard Dhrupad before. In fact the corridor talk after the concert was buzzing with conversations about, ‘this is the first time I am hearing’ ‘oh what an energy the Dhrupad recital had’, ‘is all Dhrupad like this’

The important point here is Sarbari, treated the audience to change, and a delightful one for sure.
She dared to be different, and kudos to her for that.

Amod Dandawate now pretty well known in the circles here gave her a god accompaniment on the Tabla.

Sarbari’s voice was wonderful, took a few minutes to pick up in the beginning, but then it was a treat all the way. Wow, will surely await future performances of hers for sure.

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The second performance after a short break continued with Indrojit Roy on Sitar accompanied by
Anirban Roy Choudhuri on tabla. He performed Raag Jonpuri. A short crisp performance, but he kept the tempo going. I must add that, it’s also always delightful to watch Indrojit in action, he brings tremendous energy and is a superb tabla accompanist to elevate the energy levels. This young artist is certain to go places.

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The final performance was from a more seasoned artist Anusua Roy, she was accompanied by Amod Dandawate (tabla) and Kedar Naphade (harmonium).

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She sang Shuddh Sarang and it was extremely well performed aided by her melodious voice. I personally loved her Tarana/Tillana (for Carnatic music lovers). It was simply superbly handled, and she did quite an elaboration there. She ended with a short thumri, and we in the audience, suddenly felt the morning went too quick.

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Knowing Kedar personally, I may sound biased, but I think there are very few harmonium players that I know off in this part of the region, who can work magic with his fingers. I think, he is a natural, and will be critical to bring back and elevate the harmonium in the coming years. In fact, I plan to interview him shortly for a separate blog on this subject. Look out for that, it will be interesting and possibly controversial too.

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Well, like everything all good things come to and end, and as one of the organizers pointed out, it’s just 364 days for the next Sangeet Prabhat.

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