Performing in harmony
To keep the ‘Guru Shishya Parampara’ (a succession of teachers and disciples) thriving in classical music, twelve years ago, flautist and composer, Vivek Sonar, came up with a new concept. A disciple of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, he decided to bring together a bunch of flautists on the same stage to orchestrate a flute symphony. “I have been Panditji’s student for the past twenty years now. Bringing together so many flautists, every year, on one stage is quite a task, but I have been doing it because it is the only way we could keep the tradition of ‘Guru Shishya Parampara’ alive,” he says.
And, with that idea, the Bansuri Utsav began in 2007. Now, the festival takes place annually. Noticing its growth and popularity over the years, Sonar is now looking forward to its twelfth edition on January 19. The number of flautists keep changing. This year, there are 80 flute players and 20 violinists, who will be accompanied by tabla Maestro Ustad Fazal Qureshi, keyboard exponent Atul Raninga, violin player Milind Raikar, Gaurav Murkar on side rhythm and Sachin Nakhwa on the octopad. The evening will also feature a flute jugalbandi by Rakesh Chaurasia and Shashank Subramanian, with Satyajeet Talwalkar on the tabla and Jayachandra Rao on mridangam. The event will conclude with a solo recital by Pandit Chaurasia.
Before 2007, Sonar says, there was no other concert which gave utmost importance to the flute. “Usually, flautists play as part of music festivals featuring different instrumentalists and vocalists. So, I thought of having many flautists play together in harmony,” he says, and despite there being other instruments, the flute remains the main focus. “I ensure that the other instruments do not outshine the flute,” he says.
The idea, Sonar explains, is to “celebrate the flute”. “If you will notice, the symphony consists majorly of flautists, the jugalbandi is between flautists, and the solo act is by flute maestro Pandit Chaurasia,” he adds.
In a western symphony orchestra, Sonar says, notes are kept in front of the artiste. But in the Guru Shishya Parampara, “we tend to memorise what the guru teaches us, and we perform without seeing the notes. It is a way of paying tribute to our guru.”
Taking place at the Dr Kashinath Ghanekar Natyagruha in Thane, it is after five years that the town will witness the flute festival again. “The last Bansuri Utsav in Thane was held in 2014. Post that, I took the event to auditoriums in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. I am very excited to bring it back to Thane again,” Sonar shares.
Dripping with enthusiasm, Pandit Chaurasia believes that this year, Thane’s music connoisseurs will have the opportunity to witness the “uniquesnees” of the flute symphony again. He says, “The 12th edition of this utsav (festival) has especially been organised for the Thanekars.”
Sonar points out towards another interesting aspect of this year’s festival — there will be 37 girls, who will be part of the symphony — something that’s never happened before. When asked if classical music is a dying tradition, Sonar says, there is enough hope. “Classical music festivals have been increasing and I don’t think it is dying.
Once you’ve listened to Indian classical music, then you will come for it again. You will also see that there has been an increase in the young crowd attending these events.”
The event will also felicitate Pandit Jasraj with the Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia Puraskar for his contribution to Indian classical music for over seven decades.
What: Bansuri Utsav
Where: Dr Kashinath Ghanekar Natyagruha, Thane (W)
When: January 19, at 7pm.