Music to our ears

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The second Brisbane Sangeet Mela is back – bigger and better than before!

Sangeet Mela.Indian Link

In late September, a gala event unfolded at the Multicultural Centre at Kangaroo Point, Brisbane.

The Sangeet Mela 2015 showcased some of the best talent in Indian classical music and dance.

Organised by Sangeet Premi Club and EthnoSuper Lounge, this event was started just last year, but has already attracted numerous local, national and international artistes in its second edition.

According to Sangeet Mela 2015 Coordinator Yusuf Alikhan, this year’s event expanded in its scope. “We were not limited to north Indian classical music, but also included Carnatic music which is hugely popular in southern India,” Alikhan said.

Additionally one of the notable milestones was the recognition of the young and exceptionally talented artistes through the Rising Star Awards.

“Sangeet Mela is growing in reputation,” said Festival Director Shen Flindell.

This was evidenced by the participation of interstate artistes along with a flurry of international musicians and dancers desiring to take part.

One of the talented young winners of the Rising Star Awards was Mathuja Bavanendrakumar who performed a Bharatnatyam dance to start off the concert.

Her graceful movement and posture were appreciated with a round of applause by the audience which had gathered in huge numbers for this event.

Mathuja effortlessly juggles the hectic study load of 6th year student of Medicine at the University of Queensland, and an arduous routine of practicing the ancient temple dance form.

Another talented young musician, Roshni Sriram was awarded the Rising Star Award for her mastery of Carnatic vocal music.

Sangeet Mela.Indian Link
Roshni Sriram

Roshni gave a scintillating performance which held the audience spellbound.

Roshni’s talent was discovered quite early in her childhood when she was four years old, and this child prodigy later went on to win many awards and has been giving performances in Brisbane and Sydney.

Manbir Singh, another Rising Star winner, held the audience captive with his recital of Raga Bhimpalasri, a mellifluous melody apt for a soulful afternoon.

Sangeet Mela.Indian Link
Manbir Singh

Manbir was first introduced to music by his grandfather Bhai Prem Singh.

After moving to Sydney at a young age, Manbir learnt the finer aspects of traditional compositions under the tutelage of doyens such as Bhai Harjit Singh, Ustaad Mazhar and Jawad Ali Khan (grandsons of Ustaad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan).

Between completing a double major in Mining and Civil Engineering at UNSW, Manbir frequently visits Kolkota on a yearly basis to study traditional compositions and the nuances of Indian classical music.

It was not just the vocalists and the dancers who cornered all the glory; the percussionists also had their share of the limelight.

Arthavan Selvanathan was awarded the Rising Star Award for his mastery over the Mridangam. Arthavan has accompanied several Carnatic vocal and instrumental musicians.

Furthermore he is a regular at local events in Brisbane and has performed at Queensland Multicultural Days, Swara Mohini concerts and Brisbane Music Circle concerts.

Sanjay Sivaananthan was awarded the Rising Star Award for the tabla category.

He started studying tabla under the tutelage of Shen Flindell in 2007. He has performed at various events such as the Ashu Babu Memorial Tabla School concert and the Woodford Folk Festival and at many festive occasions at the Selva Vinayaka Temple in South McLean.

Another brilliant performance of the evening was a sitar recital by Dr Indranil Chatterjee accompanied by Shen Flindell on the tabla.

Sangeet Mela.Indian Link

Shen Flindell started learning the tabla in Melbourne in 1994 and later went to the holy city of Varanasi to study under Pt Kaviraj Ashutosh. In recent years, Shen has also added the Pakhawaj to his repertoire of musical prowess.

Shen initiated the proposal of Indian music and dance examinations to be recognised for Queensland Certificate of Education and was successful this year.

After the death of his guru Pt Ashutosh, Shen opened the Ashu Baba Memorial Tabla School in Brisbane in 2006 following his erstwhile guru’s classical style of teaching.

Shen also accompanied an international tabla maestro, Pt Pooran Maharaj who is one of India’s most respected and well known musicians of Benares heritage.

Pt Pooran Maharaj won the hearts of the audience with his mastery of the tabla and his simplicity and unassuming attitude.

Pt Pooran Maharaj is an international ambassador appointed by the Indian government to teach and promote the tabla through the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) in South America, Canada, USA and UK.

The other international artistes who performed at the Sangeet Mela 2015 included Kumar Gaurav Kohli – Hindustani Vocal, Manda Sudharani – Carnatic Vocal, and Janani Ganapathi whose evocative performance of Bharatnatyam has often been praised for elegant and graceful mudras.

Sangeet Mela.Indian Link

Janani is also a PhD candidate in Law and calls Switzerland home.

Dr Mansi Kinarivala gave a vocal performance and Dr Helena Joshi’s Kathak performance was very well received.

Sangeet Mela.Indian Link

The success of the event was possible due to the ardent dedication of the accompanying artistes as well, such as Rahim Zullah and Joseph Abhay Nand on harmonium, Murali Ramakrishnan on the flute and Adarshbir Singh on the dilruba.

Interstate artistes were Sridhar Chari on the mridangam and the flute, Kranthi Kiran Mudigonda on the violin and Maharshi Raval on the tabla.

Dr Indranil Chatterjee spoke to Indian Link and said that, being an Intensive Care specialist, he rarely finds time to practice his favourite instrument, the sitar, but he is transforming some styles when he plays with western instrumental musicians.

“Music and healing have a deep connection,” he said, and outlined that intends to produce a symphony based on the sounds that the monitors make in an Intensive Care Unit.

Sangeet Mela.Indian Link

“There is a lot of young talent in the Indian Australian community,” Dr Chatterjee told Indian Link.

He said he was particularly impressed by the Rising Stars award winners due to the fact they have been away from the main influence of Indian culture but they have managed to retain their roots.

His advice to aspiring young instrumental musicians?

“Understand that it takes years and years to perfect the art and that it is only possible to achieve that level of perfection through consistent practice and listening to different genres of Indian classical music.”