Can any mortal mixture of earth’s mould breathe such divine enchanting ravishment?” asks the God of entertainment after being entranced by a song in English poet John Milton’s famous “The Masque of Comus.”
A similar zeal is about to be injected in music lovers as Raga Spirit 2013 continues its music season combining vocals, instruments and creativity from some of the brightest names in the classical Indian music genre.
Mirrored after the great music festivals common in India, artistic director Gita Desai and Irvine based Ektaa Center’s President and executive director Harish Murthy have joined forces to “totally immerse” and “soak listeners in the best music, with a variety of vocal and instrumental recitals of this profound musical system,” says Desai.
Honorary coordinator and master of ceremonies Vijay Kichlu, who has committed his life to preserving the traditions of classical music will inaugurate the festival. The former, executive director of the revolutionary institution, Sangeet Research Academy, which imparts intensive advanced training in raga music in India, is also known for his inspirational lecture demonstrations as well as a successful singing career for over three decades.
The core of this year’s program includes a line-up of North Indian Hindustani and South Indian Karnatik classical sets of compositions which for Murthy are enhanced by “an auditorium with some of the best acoustics, no lengthy introductions or speeches, an ambiance of sheer artistry and reasonably priced festival passes.”
Highlights include a much anticipated solo and jugalbandi with musician Rakesh Chaurasia and Abhijit Banerjee, a highly sought after tabla player from India. Chaurasia is not only renowned bansuri master Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia nephew, but is also his most accomplished disciple apt to carry on the family legacy.
Another not to miss assemblage of sound and music will occur as Pt. Kushal Das is accompanied by his son Kalyanjit Das on sitar. According to Kichlu, apart from the intense sitar techniques possessed by the father and son duo, the mastery of knowledge which the Das’ embody is attributed to the guru-sishya tradition of teacher and disciple. Able artists emerge through the conventional training system, “where a disciple receives the training from a Guru while living with him and under his shadow for a prolonged period,” explained Kichlu.
The item will also be accompanied by tabla maestro Pandit Swapan Chaudhari. Other noteworthy performances during the day will include a violin trio by Karnatik violinist maestro Delhi P. Sunder Rajan and his disciples Arun and Shiva Ramamurthi along with Nirmal Narayan on mridangam.
Rajan will also accompany Karnatik vocalist Sandeep Narayan in the latter part of the evening. Narayan, who was born in Los Angeles, was guided by his passion in music which inspired him to leave school at the age of eleven and go to India to begin advanced training in singing. Narayan is a disciple of Sanjay Subrahmanyan, had his initial training from his mother Shubha Narayan and advanced training from KS Krishnamurthy.
Hindustani vocalist Pt. Kaivalya Kumar, well known for his high pitched tenor voice and unusual bandishes or fixed raga compositions will also perform. Kumar is an exponent of the Kirana gharana which emphasizes base and easy-paced movements in ragas. He will be accompanied by Banerjee, on tabla and Kedar Naphade on harmonium.
The festival continues to be supported by Daniel Neuman, professor of the Department of Ethnomusicology within the Herb Alpert School of Music at the University of California, Los Angles (UCLA) and partial funding is provided through the Mohinder Brar Sambhi Endowed Chair of Indian Music at UCLA.
Saturday October 19, 2 p.m.–10:30 p.m. UCLA Schoenberg Hall, 445 Charles E. Young Drive East, Los Angeles. Tickets: All-day concert VIP Passes: $100-$525, Individual concerts: $75.www.ragaspirit.com, ektaacenter.org. http://www.ragaspirit.com/tickets.html.