TSH Annual Program Barnali Dazzles with Scintillating Performances


By Sanchali Basu

HOUSTON: The Tagore Society of Houston (TSH) held its annual cultural program Barnali with great fervor and gaiety at the Houston Durgabari Sur auditorium on July 21. The evening was power packed with one good program after the other. It started off with a modern day Tagore symphony by the TSH Youth Orchestra, based on a creative east-west fusion medley of Tagore songs and western music composed by John Liner. The middle school and high school community kids were flawless in their execution of a few Rabindrasangeet influenced by Scottish highland music/classical scores of western music. The youngsters in the orchestra played with immense passion and love for the music. It was very well rehearsed and was carried out almost singlehandedly by them without the guidance of a grown-up.


This was followed by an opening Rabindra Sangeet, “Anandalokey Mangalalokey” sung by a group led by Kamalpriya Roy. Mahua Dasgupta’s troupe consisting of Deepayan Bhattacharya, Srijita Chakrabarty, Sharmishtha Kolay and herself, then led the audience on a journey down memory lane to give a flavor of the golden era of Bengali music of the sixties and seventies. All the singers were very impressive and managed to captivate the audience with their melodious voices.

Cute little young girls in the age group of 5-8 in their bright yellow saris danced the first dance of the evening to Poush Toder. The dance choreographed by Soma Dasgupta got the audience going and there was not a single person in the audience who could not help but fall in love with these adorable kids.

The highlight of the evening, a bedazzling multimedia presentation Moner Manush (Seeking the Inner Man of Tagore) ensued. It was wonderfully conceptualized and scripted by the President of TSH, Ruma Acharya. It highlighted the influence of different genres of music on Tagore’s songs including Hindustani classical, Carnatic, folk (Baul), Kirtan, Vaishnavite Padavali and even Western music which resulted in enriching his music and endowing a unique quality to it. The Bauls (the traveling minstrels) who try to realize God in themselves, created a deep impact on the poet’s life as was reflected in his songs like “Aamar praner manush aachhe prane” which says that the Almighty or the soul of souls is all pervading and dwells in every human heart. Tagore was impressed and deeply moved by the simplistic and lyrical music of Gagan Harkara, a postman and devotee of Lalan Fakir.

Moner Manush opened with a scene from rural Birbhum where Gagan Harkara meets a Baul and is informed of the arrival of Tagore and the two then embark on a journey through the various styles of Rabindra Sangeet compositions, some sung by Gagan himself and some by other artists. The audio visual presentation included excellent narration, visuals and dance performances choreographed and presented by the local Houston talented artists and their students. The audio visual was put together by Sailaja Bandyopadhyay and the dances were choreographed by Piyal Sengupta, Soma Dasgupta, Supradipta Datta and Arpita Mukhopadhyay. Narration was done by Sanchali Basu, Saurabh Sengupta and Shayak Sen. Gagan Harkara was very capably enacted by Shamik Bose and Baul by Subrata Dasgupta. Santanu Mukhopadhyay was responsible for stage lighting and Chandana Guha and Partha Sen helped back stage.

During the intermission the names of the annual essay contest winners were announced. A service recognition award ceremony honored Chandana Guha, Partha Sen, Sujit/Mila Sengupta for their contribution towards TSH. A mini fund raising was carried out to bring the Tagore Grove project to culmination in September, when the fifth statue of Tagore will be installed outside of India in Houston’s Ray Miller Park located at the intersection of Eldridge and Briar Forest (Energy Corridor).

Finally it was the turn of the much awaited invited artist from Kolkata Raghab Chatterjee to take the stage and end the show and oh what a way to end the show! As expected, he just drifted skillfully from one genre of music to the other with effortless ease. This stems from his years of training in classical music.  The crowd got to hear the favorites including “Chand keno”, “Alla ke bande”, a fusion of a bandish in raga Bhairavi and also the ICC World Cup theme song, “Jiyo khiladi”.

The TSH musical night was well conducted by emcee Srabani Roy Akilla. The food and sari/jewelry stalls did brisk business through the course of the evening.