To celebrate India’s rich musical heritage, four instrumentalists will come together this weekend for an instrumental festival. Titled Saz-e-Bahar, this two-day fest will be held at the NCPA on April 12 and 13. The instruments featured at the event are the cello, sitar, tabla and chitravina.
Saz-e-Bahar commences with performances by cellist Saskia Rao de Haas and her husband, sitarist Shubhendra Rao. Saskia is renowned for bridging the western and Indian classical music traditions by coming up with a cello that can play Indian ragas. She also plays the instrument while sitting on the ground. Talking about her innovation, Saskia says, “I had cultural and technical aspects in mind during the redesign. I’d sit on the chair with a normal cello, while my guru sat on the floor. So when I decided to sit on the floor, the cello had to be condensed to a form suitable for that seating arrangement.”
Talking about the experience of performing with her husband, she says, “When Shubhendra and I perform, the cello becomes the masculine counterpart, while the sitar takes on more compassionate, feminine tones.” The second day of this recital features popular tabla player Sabir Khan and chitravina player N Ravikiran. Chitravina is a string instrument used in Carnatic music. “There has been a gradual decline in its popularity for various technical and logistical reasons. The range of musical innovations possible on the instrument is huge. Any raga can be played on the instrument. I have done several permutations to make it suitable for jugalbandis and collaborations,” says Ravikiran.