Atlanta home of a national classical music competition
Vivek Pandya playing peshkar.
The Finals and Mega Finals event of the 2013 Crescendo, a North Indian classical music competition for residents of the US and Canada, took place at the Georgia Tech student center auditorium on August 31st and Sept 1st, 2013. After initial eliminations from among approximately 75 participants, 21 participants were short-listed for the final round and competed in three age categories: below 15 years of age, 15 to 25, and above 25.
SwarGanga Music Foundation has been working in the field of North Indian classical music since 2004. The organization's initiatives include SwarGanga School of Music, Crescendo, and SwarGanga Music Festival (India).
SwarGanga has also been organizing various music events around Atlanta, one being Crescendo. This event opens on 1st January each year. Students are given time to prepare for the first round of the competition. The competitors then submit their entries online and are judged by various music performers all over the world. A selected few progress to the second round and a similar elimination process takes place. After two online rounds the finalists travel to Atlanta and perform with live tabla and harmonium accompaniment to win cash prizes and a commercial CD release.
Crescendo 2013 had a great response. The first day started with the performances of candidates in 'Below 15' category. The auditorium was filled with sweet voices and lilting melodies. The candidates presented many compositions in a variety of ragas.
Aditi Tata with Tejas Tope on tabla and Srikar Ayyala on harmonium.
On the second day instrumentalists joined in. The soothing flute by Chethan Anand and Chloe Bennett, sitar by Nurool Khan, and speedy fingering patterns while playing jhala on harmonium by Vibhas Watve delighted listeners. Vocal performances by Nisha Kulkarni, Avani Deshpande, Neha Reddy, and Aditi Tata got huge applause. Narendra Kulkarni's Gaud Malhar, Aditya Shah's Malkauns, Nandna's Chandrakauns, and Gauri's Bageshree were the best moments of the vocal performance.
The real extravagance was a tabla solo by Vivek Pandya. This mere 9-years-old wonder boy held the audience spellbound as his fingers spelled out very difficult, traditional compositions which usually take years to master—the audience gave a standing ovation to his mesmerizing performance.
The standard of performance, even of the kids, was so high that the three judges, namely Pritam Bhattacharjee, Prithwiraj Bhattacharjee, and Chaitanya Kunte, were made to work hard on their criteria for choosing the winners. In fact, every kid was as good as a professional performer.
Crescendo 2013 Winners (L-R): Aditya Shah, Narendra Kulkarni, judges Prithwi Bhattacharjee and Pritam Bhattacharjee and Chaitanya Kunte, Gauri Niwargi, Vibhas Vatve, Nandna Lahoti, Aditi Tata, and organizer Adwait Joshi.
The winners for Crescendo 2013 in the below 15 years age group were Vivek Pandya for tabla (New York, disciple of Anindo Chatterji) and Nandna Lahoti for vocals (Phoenix, disciple of Shri Manu Srivastava). First runner-up was Gauri Niwargi for vocal (New Jersey, pupil of Shri Hemant Kulkarni) and second runner-up was Vibhas Vatve for harmonium (Toronto, Canada, disciple of Shri Kedar Naphde). In the 15-25 years age group, Aditya Shah (Tampa, FL, disciple of Shri Radharaman Kirtane and Shri Ratan Mohan Sharma) was the winner, and the runner-up was Chethan Anand on flute (Chicago, Illinois, disciple of Shri Ronu Majumdar). In the above 25 years age group, the winner was Narendra Kulkarni for vocal (California, disciple of Pandit Arun Dravid) and runner-up was Chloe Bennett on flute (Toronto, Canada, disciple of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia).
Tejas Tope, the winner of Crescendo 2012, accompanied the participants on tabla and later showcased his maturity and virtuosity while presenting impromptu peshkar, crisp kaydas, gats and rela in teental during his solo tabla performance after the competition. Shri. Chaitanya Kunte accompanied him on harmonium. Srikar Ayyala, a disciple of Shri. Hemant Kulkarni, who travelled all the way from New Jersey, accompanied all the participants on harmonium.
SwarGanga’s entire volunteer crew worked almost 9 months to make this event possible. In 2014, Crescendo is going to four cities across the United States and the Mega Final will take place in Atlanta.
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