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IMS Presents a Classical Concert to Celebrate 10 Years in Houston for Pandit Ghosh, Shah

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By Vivek & Namrata Sinha

HOUSTON: The Indian Music Society of Houston (IMS) has brought classical music to Houstonians for the last 21 years.  It was only natural then that IMS celebrate the 10th year anniversary of Pandit Suman Ghosh and Pandit Shantilal Shah making Houston their home, with a solo concert by Pandit Ghosh, the Mewati Gharana torch-bearer and a household name for Indian classical music lovers in Houston; aptly supported on Tabla by Pandit Shah, the maestro who has enriched Houston with a truly advanced level of this art, and on Harmonium by Shri Sameer Kotasthane from Austin. In his welcome address Govind Shetty, the President of IMS, spoke of how the maestros had established a strong base for Hindustani Classical Music in Houston, having brought the necessary ingredients with them – sur (tune), laya (cadence) and taal (rhythm). The intimate ambience of the concert venue – The Jones Hall of the University of St Thomas –was ideal for an interactive concert.

Pandit Ghosh began the concert with a Vilambit Ektaal bandish in Raag Shyam Kalyan. The aalaap of a raag is the start of musical meditation and establishes the mood of the raag – and the very first aalaap of the evening, quickly established a contemplative and meditative mood, which had the audience enthralled.  Pandit Ghosh and his ensemble took the raag to a divine level with a seamless transition to another bandish in Drut Teentaal.  The entire presentation spanned the spectrum of emotions from the pensive and contemplative to sheer epicurean indulgence, with both the “bhaav” (tone or sentiment) of the lyrics and the pure technical musicality being emphasized equally.  This was followed by a Bhajan in Raag Charukeshi, Pandit Ghosh’s own composition. The audience and performers were clearly both equally enraptured, because Pandit Ghosh delayed the intermission as he rendered another bandish in Raag Kedar before taking a break.

The second half of the concert started with a Khayal in Raag Gunji Kanada, a relatively rare Raag.  Pandit Ghosh prefaced the presentation with characteristic humility, saying it was his attempt to reach where others had gone before him. The first composition was in Vilambit Ektaal, followed by one in Drut Teental – once the mood of the Raag had been established.  It appeared as if the three artistes were in perfect sync and truly enjoying the music they created as much as the audience did.  This was followed by a Taraana in Raag Chandrakauns and another Bhajan in Raag Bhairavi.  Pandit Ghosh reminded Houstonians that they had heard this Tarana in Raag Malkauns from his Guruji Sangeet Martand Padma Vibhushan Pandit Jasraj only recently, adding that his Guruji had “approved” his version of the Tarana.

As Pandit Ghosh interacted with the audience throughout the concert, he frequently spoke of his Gurus and their contributions to music in general and his life and musical journey in particular. The easy camaraderie between the artistes, and their mutual appreciation of each other’s talents, was another commendable aspect of the concert. The entire evening was nothing short of sublime, yet another step forward in Houston’s growth as a center for Indian classical music, and a most befitting program to end the 10th anniversary celebrations of the establishment of Pandit Ghosh’s Saadhana Pariwar in Houston. Kudos to IMS for their focused, relentless & successful efforts in this direction!

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