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Classical Chemistry Ignites at Emory Concert

June 2006
Classical Chemistry Ignites at Emory Concert

April 29th was a highly anticipated day for many music lovers in Atlanta. Rakesh Chaurasia and Abhijit Pohankar, two promising Hindustani musicians, performed to the accompaniment of the inimitable Pandit Vijay Ghate on Tabla. Despite inclement weather and competing concerts around town, White Hall at Emory University filled slowly with music enthusiasts to witness the chemistry between the flute, a woodwind instrument, and the electric keyboard.

Rakesh Chaurasia, nephew of the living legend Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, awed the audience with the flute or bansuri in the first half of the concert. His raag of choice was hamsadhwani. A melodious alap was followed by a ghat, which is music set to a rhythmical structure. The ghat was exhilarating as it proceeded from a slow tempo vilambit to a medium tempo madhyam. Rakesh Chaurasia exhibited superb command over his instrument and reminded one of his uncle Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, not only with his looks and mannerisms but also with his solid fundamentals and delicate sensitivity.

The second half was more interesting due to its sheer novelty. Playing Hindustani classical on a Yamaha could raise skepticism. Abhijit Pohankar duly dismissed all the doubts and proved that the huge success of his maiden album, ‘Piya Bawari' was no fluke. Obviously the electric keyboard posed limitations but one had to appreciate the enormous talent and courage shown by this young man. He used the piano tone with an occasional pitch-bend thrown in at very unexpected but appropriate junctures. From time to time, he also mixed some unconventional fusion-like harkats (antics) without affecting the flow of the raag.

The two artists concluded the concert together by rendering a ‘Pahadi Dhun'. The audience was transported to another realm with the sublime nature of the composition. Pandit Vijay Ghate, being the senior artist amongst them, aided the young artists by supporting them with the taal and also provided occasional thrills to the audience with his expertise on the tabla.

More information about the Indian Classical Music Society of Greater Atlanta can be availed at www.icmsatlanta.org

-- Uday Thatte

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