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A celebration of sadhana

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The annual Sangeet Samaroh in Goa in reminiscence of the legendary Kesarbai Kerkar is a homage to all the ladies who grew to become colossal figures in classical music

The brochure of Kala Academy’s lately concluded fortieth version of Surashree Kesarbai Kerkar Sangeet Samaroh in Goa introduces the incomparable Kesarbai thus: ‘Surashree Kesarbai Kerkar’s life was the enactment of a noble soul’s craving for attaining musical perfection with perseverance and tenacity. Kesarbai was God’s reward to Goa’.

On the sprawling, lovely premises of Kala Academy, giant numbers of music lovers, critics, connoisseurs congregated as an affidavit to the above assertion. Whereas it was true of Goans, it was true of classical music lovers throughout India and outdoors India as effectively. Folks had travelled from varied components of the nation and overseas to pay their respects to this priceless gem of Indian music and likewise to take heed to the nice music line-up for 3 days.

Kesarbai Kerkar, the consummate queen of the Jaipur Atrauli gharana, didn’t hanker for title or fame. Relentless wrestle for perfection in music was her singular aim. A competition in reminiscence of her is a pilgrimage for many musicians. Each musician – upcoming to senior– who carried out at this competition invariably acknowledged this.

Flawlessly organised and beautifully curated, the competition should undoubtedly determine within the annual calendar of all musical lovers. Excerpts from an interview with the Programme and Improvement Officer, Dattaguru Amonkar, Kala Academy, Goa.

So many musicians who hailed from Goa went on to develop into giants on this planet of music. Why did the Kala Academy resolve to host an annual competition in reminiscence of Kesarbai Kerkar?

There are lots of legendary musicians who hailed from Goa. I want to keep in mind the good Bablibai Salgaonkar, the disciple of Nathan Khan Agrewale. A six-footer with a robust physique, she seemed like a wrestler. Ustad Alladiya Khan, her modern, thought of her a rare musician and Ustad Abdul Karim Khan apparently by no means sang after her at any music convention. She was additionally the court docket musician of the princely state of Bhavnagar. In her later years, she was drawn to spirituality and sang very much less. She, nonetheless, was not as well-known as Kesarbai.

Kala Academy began a Kesarbai Pageant 40 years in the past for a couple of purpose. Her music constituted the very best of all points of music — mental and emotional. She was the disciple of the emperor of music, Sangeet Samrat Ustad Alladiya Khan, who thought of her his true successor. Poet Rabindranath Tagore gave her the title, Surashree. Contemplating all this, the Kala Academy felt it was necessary to maintain Kesarbai’s reminiscence alive, somebody who regardless of all odds grew to become a number one musician.

I don’t assume there may be another competition in India that pays tribute to a lady musician.

There have been a number of nice musicians from this area: Bhaskarbua Bakhale, Jitendra Abhisheki, Anjanibai Malpekar… however whenever you have a look at the lifetime of Kesarbai, you realise what it means to develop into a star in a society dominated by males. She got here from the Kalavanth group, the place girls had been pressed into the service of the temple. They had been phenomenally gifted, however had no standing in society. The moms of all these nice daughters strived to hone the expertise of their daughters in order that they had been identified to the world by the standard of their artwork. It was not simple; the travails of their lives is tough to clarify. Kesarbai Kerkar, Mogubai Kurdikar, Saraswatibai Jambavalikar, Bablibai Salgaonkar, Dattibai Nageshkar… all these girls grew to become sensible musicians. In remembering Kesarbai we’re remembering all of them.

Kesarbai was identified for her sadhana, she practised music like penance. She was identified for her unparalleled guru bhakti, her uncompromising nature, and her pursuit of perfection. What do you want to uphold by your competition?

Her guru bhakti. As you understand, Ustad Alladiya Khan was not keen initially to take her as his disciple. And when he did, he didn’t enable her to sing in public for 25 years. Not as soon as did Kesarbai really feel bitter about this. Belief in her guru was implicit. Now individuals simply drop phrases like ‘guru seva’ with out even understanding its that means totally. Studying is now a industrial exercise. In three months you need to grasp a raga, in two years you need to be on stage. Throughout Kesarbai’s time, the gurus taught a raga for a number of years; it was not about studying a raga alone, they had been grooming the voice, approach, and most significantly the power to assume. Kesarbai was an skilled is ragas like Sawani Nat, Nat Behag, Nayaki Kanada and lots of others.

It is sort of a gold normal. She and Mogubai had been Alladiya Khan saab’s most interesting disciples. However have you learnt what he mentioned to Kesarbai? “Music is like an ocean. What you’ve taken from me is just some drops.” This he informed her after 30 years of gurukul coaching! We need to move on these values. Humility is a good advantage, with out which artwork is shallow.

The competition simply accomplished its fortieth version. What has been its journey?

There has all the time been a conscientious effort to carry the very best musicians from throughout the nation. Greatest isn’t fashionable, however scholarly. Within the very first version, we had Nisar Hussain Khan saab, so you possibly can think about! The competition has been strictly Hindustani, however within the final 5 years we’ve got added a small part of Carnatic music. We’re but to usher in a vocal musician, however we’ve got had Vikku Vinayakram, U. Shrinivas, Umayalapuram Sivaraman, Selvaganesh, Ganesh and Kumaresh, and Jayanti Kumaresh. Final yr, we introduced within the percussion ensemble led by ghatam artiste Sukanya Ramgopal.

The curation of this competition is totally on benefit. There’s a three-member crew which included Prasad Sawkar, Ajay Naik and me for this version.

What’s Kala Academy’s contribution is to the world of classical music?

It’s immense. Each artiste feels their profession has been elevated by acting at this competition. They maintain it in excessive esteem. Additionally it is a chance for children to find out about Kesarbai Kerkar. If they’re impressed sufficient to study classical music and emulate her in small methods, it’s a huge step for us.

Goa misplaced most of its musicians to Bombay however brings all of them again by this competition.

Though Goa produced legendary musicians like Abhisheki, Karekar, Kishori Amonkar and a number of other others, they needed to go away Goa looking for a guru or a chance. They established themselves as prime performers and introduced title and fame to Goa. The truth is, there’s a fashionable saying, ‘Maharashtra sings in Goa’s voice’. If they’d remained in Goa, they might not have achieved all this.

You may have additionally began a competition in Kishori Amonkar’s reminiscence.

Sure, we had one version; hopefully we can have the second this yr. Kala Academy’s common council determined to carry this competition as a mark of respect to Goa’s daughter Kishori Amonkar.

(A report on the 40tth Surashree Kesarbai Kerkar Sangeet Samaroh

can be revealed subsequent week.)

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