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Kala Samvada—Conversations on Art with Distinguished Musicians

A ‘Beat-full’ Conversation with Pt. Abhijit Banerjee


The ‘Kala Samvada—Conversations on Art’ session on 29 January 2021 commenced with a prayer by Shri Swapnil Chaphekar (Assistant Professor and Head, School of Kalayoga) who then went on to introduce the guest speaker Pandit Abhijeet Banerjee and the interviewer Shri Shashi Vyas. Pt. Banerjee is one of the most sought after Tabla artists in the realm of Indian classical music. He is a student of late Pt. Gyan Prakash Ghosh. Pt. Banerjee has accompanied nearly all the top-ranking stars of Hindustani classical music. As a Tabla soloist, he has left his distinct mark through numerous performances and publications in India and abroad. He has extensively toured across the world and performed in all of the major classical music festivals in India. He is a Professor and Guru at Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth’s School of Kalayoga and the Chinmaya Naada Bindu Gurukula respectively. Shri Shashi Vyas is a classical music impresario. He is often invited to set the pace for Kala Samvada sessions as moderator.

Speaking about the importance of Gharana nowadays, Pt. Banerjee said that one must learn from one guru for at least some years and copy our Gurus so that Gharana will be visible in the performance. He also spoke about the different specialities of Gharanas, demonstrating some styles.

Pt. Banerjee emphasised that Tabla artists should first learn vocals as it helps to know the importance of Theka and express the bol of Theka. He explained the finer nuances of an accompanying Tabla artist through examples. When accompanying a singer, he said the Tabla artist must listen keenly to understand the style of the main artist. In the case of dancers, the Tabla artist has to watch the feet of the dancers and not their face.

The session was not only interesting for all music lovers but also an insightful session for students of Tabla.


A Lilting Conversation with Veena Artist Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh

The ninth session of the ‘Kala Samvada—Conversations on Art’ series featured Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh, the world-renowned Saraswati Veena artist, in conversation with Smt. Pramodini Rao, Director, Chinmaya Naada Bindu Gurukula. Kala Samvada—Conversations on Art is a series organised by the School of Kalayoga under the OLA (Open Learning for All) initiative of Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth (CVV).

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh comes from a lineage of musicians who have been practising Carnatic music for six generations. She started playing the Saraswati Veena at the age of three. Over the years she has performed at prestigious festivals and venues in India and abroad.

Dr. Jayanthi holds a Doctorate for her work on ‘Styles and Playing Techniques of the Saraswati Veena’ and conducts workshops and lecture demonstrations around the world. She has composed and released numerous albums and also collaborated with many artists such as Tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain, Violin maestro Shri. R. Kumaresh, Hindustani flautist Ronu Majumdar, Carnatic musicians Aruna Sairam and Bombay Jayashree to name a few. Dr. Jayanthi is a recipient of many prestigious awards, the recent one being Bhavan's Sangeet Shikhar Samman Award bestowed by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, New Delhi.

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh spoke about her musical journey as well as her personal experiences which transformed her into the artist she is today. Being a naughty child who was difficult to discipline, she was sent to her maternal aunt Smt. Padmavati Anantagopalanji's house who accepted her as a disciple and trained her for 22 years. Going by her own experience, Dr. Jayanthi stated that it is important that performing artists learn in the gurukula style because being with the Guru, serving and observing the Guru closely makes a lot of difference in the learning. Living with her Guru, she received both formal and spiritual training which made her into the person and the artist she is today. She also narrated a few memorable incidents with her Guru, one of which was how her Guru always changed the Veena string in her stead before a concert so that Dr. Jayanthi would not hurt her fingers. She expressed immense gratitude, respect and love for her Guru. She strongly believes that besides hard work and devotion to the Saraswati Veena, it is the grace and blessings of her Guru and Almighty that have made her render splendid performances.

Dr. Jayanthi holds a Doctorate for her work on ‘Styles and Playing Techniques of the Saraswati Veena’. She researched the different styles of playing the Veena, namely the Mysore, Andhra, Thanjavur and Kerala. She believes everyone does not need to learn music. However, everyone should have the ability to appreciate it going ton to say learning music can increase one's attention span.

She also mentioned how musical and spiritual training from her Guru and the Chinmaya Vidyalaya she studied in has played a role in her journey to becoming a renowned artist and the person that she is.

It was an elevating experience listening to such a humble and talented person. The session ended with a vibrant Q&A session and a closing prayer by Smt. Pramodini Rao.

Read the reports of the Kala Samvada—Conversations on Art 2020 here.

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