Memorable Hindustani Music Performance
On September 18, 2022, as the sunny Sunday afternoon started to gently wind down to a glorious sunset, the rich and resonant strains of raga music playing on slide guitar gripped listeners in a magical spell at ArtServe in Fort Lauderdale. Renowned Mohan Veena (slide guitar) artist and Grammy award winner Pandit Vishwa Mohan (VM) Bhatt accompanied by master percussionist Pandit Subhen Chatterjee regaled a diverse audience for over two hours with a powerful performance under the aegis of APAI (Association of Performing Arts of India).
After 90 minutes of playing raga “Puriya Dhanashree,” Pandit Bhatt sang and played a popular song in the Urdu language “Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo” on his instrument and also educated concert attendees on several important features of Hindustani raga music and rhythm cycles.
“We have not rehearsed what we are presenting to you today. It is spontaneous improvisation!” said Pandit Bhatt. The audience repeated phrases of Raga Yaman after him and recited sixteen beat cycle teentaal accompanied by hand movements.
Padma Bhushan Pandit VM Bhatt, trained by the legendary sitar player, Bharat Ratna, the late Pandit Ravi Shankar is popular all over the world and especially recognized for the manner with which he establishes a warm connection with his audiences. Pandit Subhen Chatterjee, disciple of Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, is a percussionist who is equally adept at playing solo tabla, accompanying vocal as well as instrumental artists. He recently earned a spot in the Guiness Book of World Records for his live performance in a 60-minute composition with over 300 musicians playing over 350 musical instruments.
Together, the artist duo engaged 80 listeners with an engaging question-and-answer session towards the end of the concert. Pandit Bhatt told the story of how during his teens, he adapted the Western guitar to create the Mohan Veena instrument with 20 strings. He used a small, steel metal door hinge to produce a gliding sound effect known as “meend” which is very important in Indian music. He also recounted a collaboration with Western slide guitarist Ry Cooder in an album titled A Meeting by the River which went on to win a Grammy award in 1993. “The entire credit for the awards I have won in my life and the musical performances in 82 countries goes to this little steel rod,” said Pandit Bhatt with a smile, evoking laughter from a room full of listener
APAI executive committee president, Smt. Bharti, and her husband Dr. Deenbandhu Chokshi, as well as multiple supporting sponsors and a team of dedicated APAI volunteers deserve kudos for organizing a truly memorable Hindustani music concert that brought together not only music of the finest caliber, but also storytelling and gentle humor that created a warm bond between the artist and the audience
Contributed by Suchita Rao
About Suchita Rao
Shuchita Rao is a Coral Springs, Florida based award-winning Hindustani vocalist, published author, art critic and a sought-after music educator.
For more information, visit www.shuchitarao.com