Soulful celebration of a shared heritage
By Vijay Nagaraj
03rd September 2012 08:52 AM
It is not everyday that one partakes of soulful Qawwalis by Amir Khusro, devotionals of Papanasam Sivan, delicacies of the Khayal and the lyrical beauty of Swati Thirunal in the same concert. And when this springs from the spontaneous coming together of distinguished artistes from India and Pakistan, the experience is at once unique and soul stirring.
Few in the audience at the Colombo Music Festival, held recently, would have believed that the performers, Ustad Naseeruddin Saami from Karachi and Sriram Parasuram from Chennai, had met just fifteen minutes before they went on stage for a Jugalbandhi.
Accompanying Ustad Saami were Muhammad Rauf Saami on the harmonium and Riyaz Ahmad on the tabla. Muhammad Urooj Khan provided vocal support.
Parasuram was accompanied by Rajendra Nakod on the tabla and Serthalai Ananthakrishnan on the mridangam. Each member of the ensemble seemed to revel and grow in others’ music. The concert began with the Hindustani raga Bhairavi.
Ustad Saami’s Shuddh Baani teased out with great nuance, the delicacy and the power of the morning raga.
Parasuram followed suit admirably, subsequently rendering Deva Deva Kalayamidhe by Swati Tirunal in Mayamalavagowla, the corresponding Carnatic raga, in a way that evoked shades of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, who had made this composition his very own.
Ustad Naseeruddin Saami followed this with a Tarana in the same raga, ably supported by Muhammad Urooj. The pairing of Sohini and Hamsanandi ragas followed. Ustad Saami described Sohini in one word: beauty.
And in the company of Parasuram, he went on to embellish it grandly. The latter then rendered Papanasam Sivan’s Srinivasa Thiruvenkata in Hamsanandi, revealing the Carnatic raga’s personality. The artistes and their accompanists were keener to share the mastery of the others than to exhibit their own skills.
Rauf Saami on the harmonium was adept at keeping pace with both the Hindustani and Carnatic styles, and Rajendra Nakod and Serthalai Ananthakrishnan combined well even in the short but brisk Konnakkol.
The concert was rounded off by two Qawwalis rendered with soul and verve by Rauf Saami with support from Uroof Khan. Perhaps there wasn’t a better way to finish than with Man Kunto Maula by Hazrat Amir Khusro, whose musical legacy has influenced folk and classical music in South, Central and West Asia for over 700 years. There were no statements dedicated to peace or crossborder unity.
None was needed really. The effortless blending of styles, the mutual respect and admiration for each other, and the magical music and harmony that unfolded, said enough and more.
It was a simple and soulful celebration of the very best of a shared heritage.
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