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Bhakti through the magical flute

Wednesday, April 04, 2018
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

One of the main sources of classical music is the 'bhakti' (devotion) tradition. The bhakti movement has nurtured music in its own way. One very major contribution of the movement is in terms of the compositions which are sung by singers of the present generation. They were written over four hundred years ago. Poems written by saint poets like Tulsidas, Soordas and Mirabai are very much a part of the traditional 'khayal' compositions.

Another influence is of a general kind. The spread of the bhakti movement was mainly through music and other allied arts. The 'varkari' tradition, which is known for the annual pilgrimage to Pandharpur which is supposed to be the abode of the Lord Vitthal, actively engages in musical endeavours.

Vivek Sonar, the young and brilliant flautist who has now risen to the top, belongs to the family with Varkari connections. Sonar belongs to Chalisgaon, which is a major town in the Khandesh region, which falls in north Maharashtra.

Sonar's father has been a pilgrim which has a primary musical influence on him. Later he learned from Purushottam Antapurkar, a respected 'bansuri' player from Chalisgaon. His talent was spotted by none other that the maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia under whose guidance he has been for a number of years and has honed his skills further.

Sonar played at the 'Khandesh Sangeet Mahotsav' at Challisgaon in front of a huge audience. It was a sight to watch with thousands of music lovers literally lapping up exciting music played by Sonar and the tabla maestro Fazal Quereshi. When he played raga 'Yaman' the theme was developed in a systematic manner and there were several acrobatic feats which naturally evoked a thunderous applause. Nisarg Dehukar too played a superb supporting role on the tabla. Fazal Quereshi's energetic strokes enlivened the atmosphere.

The birth centenary celebrations of the two maestros of the Agra gharana began with a concert by Mukul Shivputra at the Bhavan's Chaupatty auditorium. S C R Bhatt and Chidanand Nagarkar were two dedicated gurus who spent a lifetime teaching scores of students and also giving concerts which were marked by quality music.

Shivputra, whatever his eccentricities, gave a performance which had many soulful moments to cherish.

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