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Rare Performance by Exponent of Rabindra Sangeet

September 2003
Rare Performance by Exponent of Rabindra Sangeet



Rabindra Sangeet refers to the poems of Rabindra Nath Tagore, the great Indian poet from early twentieth century. Many of his poems have been set to music by the poet himself and some have been set to music by his contemporaries ? like the late Pankaj Kumar Mullick. His songs are organized into categories, including Love (Prem), Devotion (Puja) and Nature (Prakriti). Tagore was a follower of the Brahmo Samaj, where devotion is stressed, and the excesses of Hindu ritualism are shunned. Not surprisingly, many of Tagore's songs are imbued with a spirituality that is universal.

It is indeed a rare opportunity to find a noted exponent of Rabindra Sangeet passing through Atlanta. Subroto Sengupta, one of the more notable of current crop of exponents of this song form, was on a recent visit to the metro area. He offered two very different glimpses into his mastery of the craft to listeners in Atlanta.

On July 25, in the White Hall at Emory University, Subroto gave an audio-visual on the varied musical influences on Tagore. Tagore spent a lot of his youth in the distant reaches of rural Bengal. He borrowed ideas from the rich folk traditions of the rural land and applied them to transform his words into songs. At a very young age he had visited Europe and subsequent to his receipt of the Nobel prize in 1913, he constantly toured the world. His music bears an undeniable stamp of his encounters with different musical and cultural styles. The Emory lecture focused on this aspect of Rabindra Sangeet. The artist broke down the melody and tune of select songs to trace the roots. The Bengali Association of Greater Atlanta co-sponsored the lecture-demo at Emory University in association with Emory University Asian Studies Program.

On July 27, at East Roswell Park Community Room, Subroto gave a solo performance for an audience of about 100 people. For two and a half hours, he sang songs that showed an amazing range. He switched from devotional to songs on love with effortless ease ? his deep resonant voice caressing every note and eliciting the deep meaning and spirituality that are the essence of these songs. The last half-hour was spent fielding requests from the audience. As he noted with wit and humor, the requests were all songs that had separation as their theme.

Accompanied by Prasunpani Bhattacharjee on the Tabla, Subroto's concert was a rare and different musical experience.���The Bengali Association of Greater Atlanta hosted the concert.

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