The state government will present its first Pandit Bhimsen Joshi Lifetime Achievement Award, this Saturday, to veteran Hindustani classical vocalist Kishori Amonkar, in a ceremony to be held at Prabhadevi’s Ravindra Natya Mandir.
Through this award, the state department of cultural affairs has decided to honour one Indian classical musician every year, in memory of late Kirana gharana vocalist and Bharat Ratna recipient Bhimsen Joshi, who died in Pune in January 2011.
This is the first time that the state government has constituted an award exclusively for Indian classical musicians.
Before this, the Rajya Sanskrutik Puraskar was the only state-level award that recognised Indian classical musicians, but it also included folk singers, theatre artists and tamasha performers in its ambit.
On Saturday, 89-year-old Amonkar will receive a citation, memento and a cheque for Rs. 5 lakh.
“I am happy and honoured to be the first recipient of this award,” she said. “To be honest, my true award is my audience’s response, respect and appreciation.”
A jury of four classical musicians — Prabhakar Karekar, Suresh Talwalkar, Ulhas Bapat and Amarendra Dhaneshwar — has been appointed to shortlist candidates and choose
the winner for the first three years.
Bapat, a santoor player, said Amonkar was an obvious and unanimous first choice.
“Kishoritai is one of our greatest classical singers. Her rendition of ragas is so different,” he said. “She is versatile, experimental and has her own stamp. She had to be the first recipient.”
Meenal Joglekar, joint director of the state department of cultural affairs, said the award came about after she received numerous requests from proponents of the Kirana gharana, for an award to be instituted in Bhimsen Joshi’s name.
“It’s important to preserve classical music in the state,” she added. “This is a first small step towards encouraging youngsters to take an interest in this form of music.”