Shachi and Kaustubh Phene
The legendary Hindustani Classical musician, Padmanchushan Dr. Prabha Atre presented a recital at the Peabody School in Cambridge, MA on Sunday, November 9th, 2003. Over 150 connoisseurs attended this rare event. Dr. Atre gave a splendid concert that evening, presenting her virtuosity in the art. Accompanying her were local maestros Dr. George Ruckert, from MIT, on the Harmonium, and Sri Nitin Mitta from RI, on the Tabla.
Dr. Atre presented a varied repertoire that ranged from slow, melodic Khayals to her famous Dadra and Thumri. She started the evening with two pieces in raag Shyamkalyan, the first in a slow tempo, set to Ektaal and the second with a moving tempo, set to Teentaal. The second piece especially kept the audience riveted to the music. The artists then moved on to the well-loved Dadra “Jamuna Kinare Mora Gaon … Savare Aaijayo”. The goal of the piece, as Dr. Atre explained, is to show the raag’s beauty. “Therefore the tempo is not too fast or too slow, and there are phrases instead of sargams or swarams” said Atre. The Dadra was topped-off with a touch of folk-melody.
After the intermission, the audience received a special treat in the form of a poem written and presented in Marathi by Dr. Atre herself and its English translation by the Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Sanders. This poem was from Dr. Atre’s collection “Educating the Audience”. Dr. Atre read each stanza in Marathi, and after each one, Mr. Sanders recited the English translation. The poem expressed every artist’s eternal quest for a moment of excellence where the art transcends the entertainment, the distance between the artist and the audience vanishes and both reach a world never before experienced by either one of them. It was an amazing display of the multi-dimensional accomplishments of Dr. Atre. It is a rare treat hear an acclaimed vocalist and an eminent scholar in the field of music express herself with such eloquence in so few words.
Dr. Atre proceeded to sing a Khayal in the raag Kirvani, a Vilambit set to Jhaptaal and a Drut set to Ektaal. It was in this piece that Dr. Atre showed her true skill as a musician. She improvised astonishing passages, there on stage, bringing the audience to “Wah wah!” s. Also in this piece, the young tabla player showed his mastery over the instrument by improvising rhythms that amazed the listeners. The singer moved on to “Tore Bina Mohe Chein Nahin”, also in raag Kirvani and then to a Taraana in raag Chandrakaus, where she once more stunned the audience with her improvisation. For the Grand Finale, Dr. Atre and her musicians gave a brilliant performance of “Mori Maily Hogayee Re Chunariya”. She received a standing ovation from the audience for her fine performance.
Dr. Atre’s concert was inspiring. Her full voice, smiling face, and grace and ease with the music showed how much fun she was having with it, and she shared that joy with us. Her improvisation was sensational. Dr. Ruckert on the harmonium added a sense of delicateness and sweetness to the music and Nitin Mitta’s outstanding tabla accomapaniment added a fine rhythmic touch.
The LearnQuest Academy of Music and the New England Marathi Mandal (NEMM) should be congratulated on bringing such affine concert to the Boston area.
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