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Tabla Manch Pravesh: Ashish Puri

Press Release

Ashish Puri (15 years old) enthralled an audience of music lovers at his Tabla Manch Pravesh on Saturday, August 18th, at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington. Ashish, a junior at Lexington High School, has been a disciple of Pandit Nishikant Sonwalkar for over 8 years. Pandit Nishikant, a beloved Tabla guru in the Boston area, is an accomplished performer in the North Indian Classical style.

Manch Pravesh, or stage debut, is a milestone of great importance for a student of Indian classical music. It is a public performance by the shisya (student) after the guru (teacher) determines that the necessary skills have been acquired by the former. Before an audience of family and friends, the student presents what he has learnt thus far, and commits to continuing the tradition with his Guru’s blessing.

The program started with a warm welcome to the audience, followed by the Ganda-Bandhan ritual, the age-old tradition of tying of the sacred thread, which is believed to create a sacred bond between Guru and Shishya (student), symbolizing the transmission of the art. The presence of Pandit Nishikant’s own guru, Pandit Kiran Deshpande, as the honorable Chief Guest helped underscore this guru-shishya parampara.

Pandit Nishikant’s informative presentation before the start of the concert outlined the history and background of the tabla as a centuries-old Indian musical performance art form, as well as the gharana’s lineage-- it was very well received and appreciated.

During the first half of his Manch Pravesh, Ashish showcased the melodious rhythmic patterns of the Tabla as a solo instrument, starting the program with Taal Teevra and Ek Taal, and showing tremendous control over the bols and the rhythm. His energetic and enthusiastic rendition of Teen Taal and its delightful kaydas, peshkars and parans-- with his stage presence clearly confirming his own enjoyment of the music, thoroughly entertained the audience.

Ashish was superbly accompanied by a talented orchestra--on the harmonium was Shri Sagar Tayde, who has frequently wowed audiences with his skills as a singer, harmonium accompanist and music director in various major recitals in the Boston area. On the flute was Shri Sujeet Phanse, also a regular performer at several local area events, including classical, light classical, ghazal, folk and film music events. Aishani Mukherjee, a rising sophomore from Connecticut, accompanied Ashish on the Taanpura.

Roles reversed in the second half of the program as Ashish had the privilege of vocal and instrumental “jugal bandi” with his guru and other eminent artists from the Boston community. The auditorium resonated with the scintillating vocals of Smt. Indrani Mukherjee, an accomplished Hindustani Classical Music vocalist and student of the renowned maestro, the late Pundit A. Kanan. The delicate and soulful sounds of the Sitar then kept the audience captivated as Smt. Usha Verma demonstrated her mastery of the instrument as she also does for numerous live radio broadcasts and multiple Indian cultural events across the state.

In the spirit of India’s recently celebrated 71st Independence Day, for the show’s finale, Shri Sagar Tayde took the audience on a beautiful devotional journey starting with a Sikh Shabad (a favorite of Ashish’s late Dadaji) and concluding with Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite bhajan, Vaishnava Janato, singing both with incredible depth and beauty. His expert vocals, accompanied by the sounds of the flute and tabla, filled the venue, invoking both nostalgia and patriotism, and left the listeners spellbound and yearning for more.

Over dinner afterwards, as concert attendees mingled, conversed and commented on his performance, Ashish reflected on his gratitude to his Guru for his years of patient and gentle guidance and confirmed his resolve to continue his musical journey, stating “I have so much to learn.”

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