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Delightful Music on Dulcymer

Wednesday, January 10, 2018
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

Neil Khopkar is a 20-year-old Hindustani music practitioner, who plays Hindustani music on the Dulcymer, which is an instrument of American origin. This is a folk instrument from the Appalchin mountain ranges in the eastern part of the United States. He was introduced to this instrument by his aunt Swati Prabhu, who gave it to him as a gift.

On the one hand, he was fascinated by the sound of the Dulcymer and on the other hand, he was also deeply moved by Hindustani raga music. He learned tabla from Avinash Patwardhan who is a senior pupil of the veteran Nayan Ghosh. He began to play ragas on the Dulcymer simultaneously.
Later on, he decided to train under the eminent Gwalior gharana vocalist Neela Bhagwat. His training in vocal music has further helped him develop as a musician. He was featured by Kalabharati in a morning concert on the New Year Day. He played the raga 'Asavari ' in style. This was the Asavari with natural R. There is a yearning quality of the raga which has to be properly communicated through alaps and jod section. Neil did precisely that and his music had a distinctly vocal orientation. He also played the raga 'Khamaj' which was delightful. He was accompanied on the tabla by young Omkar Pol. Kalabharati naturally, took pride in presenting the first ever live performance of Hindustani music on this unique instrument.

The late Dr. Veena Sahasrabuddhe appeared on the Hindustani music scene suddenly in the 1980s like a comet and departed last year due to an incurable ailment. She was admired for her clarity and flexibility of voice and a lively sense of presentation. She trained a number of students who are carrying forward the rich legacy of her music. Her senior pupil, Aparna Gurav sang in the second half of their programme. Her performance was expected to generate the warmth which would liven up the winter morning on the last day of the year. And she fulfilled all the expectations of the audience. She sang the raga 'Basantmukhari'. It is an interesting combination of 'Bhairav' and 'Bhairavi'. Some people also call it 'Hizaz', Aparna's alaps and taans had a natural flow and she could hold the attention of the audience with her melodious presentation. This raga is rarely heard from a vocalist.

In that sense, there was a welcome freshness about her performance. She also sang a romantic sounding composition in the raga 'Shudh Sarang' composed by Dr. Veena. She was accompanied on the harmonium by Ravindra Lomate and on the tabla by Milind Gurav. Her daughter who provided vocal sangat to her is a talented young singer in the making.

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