The light February chill made the three days from 4th to 6 th pleasant for strings to shiver and drums to reverberate. Baajaa gaaja got off to a rocking start opened on a subtle note by Girish Karnad . And by evening the music hit crescendo with Assamese singer –composer Papon jamming with Niladri Kumar ‘s sitar and Satyajit Talwalkar ‘s tabla in collaboration with Juan Diego ‘s flamenco guitar and Isreal “ Katumba” Mera’s percussion . With musical Q&As interspersed with challenges to improvise, the concert was teasingly called Cordial Relations. The festival had performances, exhibitions, seminars and screenings spread over 3 venues at Inshanya Design Centre. As purists enjoyed their unblemished recital in one place, fusion cut through the fence sitters and liberals. Personifying fusion was Flautist Steve Gorn who plays Indian classical music and new American music with his bansuri bamboo flute. “It’s a wonderful platform for music especially experimental music”, said Gorn who believes it is wonderful to perform to audiences in India. The festival not only brought music from genres of classical, folk and world music together but also bridged the gap between the artist and the listener through lectures, seminars and films. A high point was Spandan Bannerji’s film on the journey of a song from its folk origins through urban mutation to popular culture.
“You can call it a musical Jatra “, said vocalist Rajashri Pathak who closed the final day at one of the venues: Jalsaghar. Pathak is a student of Shobha Gurtu and Sarla Bhide. An award winning vocalist her repertoire includes khayal, thumri, dadra and Kumaoni hori. But it wasn’t all work and no play. A Hinduatani classical Antakshari, the popular game which has participants creating a song chain had hard core fans as well as lay music lovers sit up and sway.
Speaking of his experience at baajaa gaaja, Harmonium player Sriram Hasabnis said, “Different people enjoy different levels of complexity in music. This is one platform where there is something for everyone’s ear”. For some this has now become an annual pilgrimage. Like Tabla player Supreet Dhespande who said, “ From what I have seen in the past 3 years, I think this will become the one of the most prestigious stages from which we can reach out to the audience”. A student of maestro Suresh Talwalkar, Supreet is known for blending tradition with popular presentation of tabla as a solo instrument. His solo recitals are a blend of Delhi, Ajrada, Benaras, Punjab and Farrukhabad gharanas.
The festival proved that music can never be mastered, it can only be learnt continuously. The coming together of forms also turned out to be an eye or rather ‘ear’ opener for musicians. Dilpreet Bhatia who is trained in Hindustani classical vocal music and plays rhythm guitars and keyboards candidly admitted about some rare performances, “Even I didn’t know this type of music existed. It is fascinating. It means that whenever you are reaching out to people you don’t know it means you are actually doing what is meant to be done with music.” Indeed, that is what baajaa gaajaa is meant to be.
- By Prachi Wagh