Migrant Heritage Charitable Trust Inc (regd) aka MigHT-I’s annual jugalbandi fest ‘Naadbrahma – Sounds from Heaven’ was played to a full house in Auckland (June 26) and Hamilton (July 4). The concert featuring both Hindustani and Carnatic music has a good following and appreciation amongst the crowd in Auckland. MigHT-I plans to take this nationwide.

This year’s edition in Auckland featured Dr Ashok Malur on violin, Raman Easwaran on Mridangam, Lester Silver on Sitar, Satish Sharma on Sarod and Manjit Singh on Tabla. An addition to the team was Prof Diwakar who played the Veena. Coming off a fantastic performance in the previous year, this year the challenge was to give something new to the audience. As a part of this the theme was developed on a single Raga, with a look at its rendition in both forms of music – Hindustani and Carnatic.

The evening in Auckland started with the soft and heavenly music of the Veena, the oldest know instrument to every Indian. Vidwan Diwakarji, was at ease as he rendered more than 6 different compositions to get the audience into the mood for the evening. He was ably assisted by Raman on the Mridangam. It was then the turn of Shri Satish Sharma to highlight the use of Sarod in Indian music. He played raag ‘Charukeshi’ which itself has its origin in Carnatic music and the credit for popularising it in Hindustani goes to Pandit Ravi Shankar. He then played a fast dhun to finish of his piece.

Manjit Singh and his students had the audience tapping to the bols of Tabla and he demonstrated the popularity of this instrument as a ‘solo’ percussion instrument with great finesse. His students were no less talented as they showcased a wide range of ‘Kaidas’ to match the tempo set by their teacher. Manjit Singh’s wife, Daljit Kaur, herself an accomplished musician accompanied the group on Harmonium.

It was always going to be a challenge to follow the pace set by the Tabla solo, but the quartet led by Dr Malur (Violin), Lester Silver (Sitar) and supported by Raman (Mridangam) and Manjit (Tabla) were up to the task. They showcased the use of Raag Kirwani which again is a Carnatic music Raag, but popular in both the formats.

Both Dr Malur and Lester were in their elements when the rendered a flawless execution of this raag. The evening then lit up with the Jugalbandi between the percussions – Mridangam and Tabla, which brought the floor down.

The evening ended with famous sufi music “duma dum must kalandar”. Though the show went on for more than 40 minutes beyond the scheduled time of the evening, nobody in the audience was complaining as they were treated to some divine music – literally “sounds from heaven”. The show was dedicated to the Samavadini Maestro Shri Jayant Bhalodkarji, whom we lost recently.

Hamilton, is always challenging for holding classical concerts, though it boasts some of the finest talents this country has seen. Raaga Music Group, a local group dedicated to the cause of Indian Classical Music were keen to host the Naadbrahma in Hamilton for the first time and MigHT-I and Raaga collaborated to take it to Hamilton on 4th of July. A special feature of the event was the inclusion of Vocals (Carnatic) in the mix to move away from the classic Instrumental Jugalbandi.

Credit goes to the entire Raaga team led by Tod Nachowitz, Nirmala, Malathi, Sudha who got the buzz going in Hamilton about the show and it was pre-booked to a full house, a first in Hamilton.

The evening in Hamilton started with Malathi Vasudevan on vocals, who rendered some fine compositions and ended with the bhajan by Soordas. She was accompanied by Dr Somas on Violin. Dr Somas also explained to the audience the difference between Hindustani and Carnatic music and some finer highlights of both. The large gathering was then treated to some fine music on Sarod by Satish that left the audience feeling ecstatic!

Manjit, this time performing as a solo artist, regaled the audience with his mastery on the Tabla.

The break was utilised to savour some traditional Indian food provided with the courtesy of Sanjay Joshi another successful Hamiltonian.

The second half again saw the jugalbandi between violin, sitar and Mridangam and Tabla. Again the audiences were treated for a different flavour of Kirwani, with more articulate notes and renditions by both Dr Malur and Lester. The highlight however, was the percussion Jugalbandi, which reached even greater heights than Auckland.

The evening ended with sufi rendition and the crowd gave a standing ovation to the artists. The length of the ovation itself was a proof of the success of the evening.

After these two full house performances, MigHT-I is preparing itself for the first full length Hindustani Vocal concert in New Zealand featuring the entire band from India, of Pandit Ganapati Bhat in August. Keep a watch for the details in future issues.