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CMANA opens fall concerts with a twist – Hindusthani vocalist Mala Ramdorai caters to Carnatic crowd

Submitted by on September 22, 2012 – 11:58 pmNo Comment


The two day fall concerts of CMANA started with an unusual twist – an Hindusthani concert by Mala Ramadorai.

Now, one needs to note that CMANA stands for Carnatic Music Association of North America. So it is rare to see them bring in an Hindusthani concert. I think the effort to amalgamate an occasional Hindusthani concert into the Carnatic doyen should be applauded.

Mala Ramadorai is a desciple of non other then Dr. Prabha Atre, so certainly was a treat to hear her. She took the audiences through an entire gamut of Hindusthani styles – alaap, bada khayal, chota khayal, bhajan, dadra, chaiti, ghazal, abhang and also included in this a carnatic composition.

For the hindusthani music uninitiated it could be easily seen as Hindusthani 101.

While the concert overall was very enjoyable, and her voice was captivating, personally as a keen hindusthani listener too, found that the khayal in Raag Shudha Sarang lacked elaboration and was short.

My favorite though was her beautiful rendering of a composition in raag Hindol and my request of Tan Man Dhan Tope Varun in Raag Kalavati.

I guess Mala Ramadorai was catering to the largely carnatic audiences hence was trying to fit in shorter items covering a wide spectrum of styles and forms. Unlike Hindusthani concerts where musicians elaborate extensively a few lines of compositions through a single raga or two, carnatic concerts have many shorter compositions. So Mala tuned her concert to address the audience.

She was certainly accommodative too, as she played my request of Tan Man Dhan Tope Varun in Raag Kalavati. Though it is not a morning raga, many of us wanted to hear her sing this, as we don’t get chances for such artists frequently here in the US. I must say Mala instantly obliged. This specific composition is the hallmark of her guru Dr. Prabha Atre.

She was accompanied by artists from India, Anant Joshi on the harmonium and Abhay Datar on the tabla.

I must admit, that their performances were pretty muted, and none of them caught the audiences attention. I think they need to be given more opportunities to display their skills during the concert so they can be appreciated.

Overall an enjoyable morning and a good start to the fall concerts.


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