Bengal Classical Music Festival from Nov 24

The fifth edition of the Bengal Classical Music Festival will begin at the Dhaka Army Stadium on November 24.
Organised by Bengal Foundation, presented by Square, and supported by BRAC Bank Ltd, the five-day cqarnival has been dedicated to late litterateur Syed Shamsul Haq.

Finance Minister Abul Mal Abdul Muhit MP will inaugurate the festival at a gala opening ceremony as chief guest.

Cultural Minister Asaduzzaman Noor, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, high commissioner of India in Bangladesh, Anjan Chowdhury, managing director of Square Toiletries, and Selim RF Hossain, managing director of BRAC Bank, will be present as special guests on the occasion.

Abul Khair, chairman of Bengal Foundation, will deliver the opening speech at the event.

In the inauguration ceremony, Nrityanandan, Sharmila Banerjee’s troupe, will perform Manipuri, Bharatnatyam, Odissi and Kathak dances to Tagore songs composed and directed by her.

The festival, which has globally been recognised as the greatest of its kind, will remain open from 7.00pm to 5.00am until November 28. The fifth Bengal Classical Music Festival will feature the illustrious Vidushi Girija Devi.

In her musical career of almost 70 years, this artist of the Banaras Gharana has crafted her unique creative expression of khayal, thumri and tappa infused with the Poorab flare. She has been decorated with the Padma Vibushan award in 2016 – the highest accolade of the Indian government.

Ustad Allauddin Khan, the founder of the Senia Maihar gharana and a legendary figure in Indian raga music, was born in Shibpur of Brahmanbaria in Bangladesh.

His son, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan is a globally acclaimed sarodist. His son and Ustad Allauddin Khan’s grandson, Ustad Aashish Khan is going to perform in Bangladesh for the first time.

He has trained with his grandfather, father and aunt Annapurna Devi. He will be on stage on the first day of the festival, accompanied by the renowned tabla artist, Pandit Bickram Ghosh.

Collaborative presentations by new artists will certainly be a new attraction this year.

Jasrangi is a novel form of jugalbandi, developed by Pandit Jasraj where a male and a female vocalist sing different ragas simultaneously.

Vidushi Ashwini Bhide of Jaipur-Atrauli gharana and Pandit Sanjeev Abhyankar of Mewati gharana will be performing Jasrangi at the festival.

Padma Bhushan Dr L Subramaniam is a virtuoso violinist equally dexterous in both western classical and Carnatic styles.
He has a nomination for the prestigious Grammy awards, and has performed with the crème de la crème of global composers and conductors.

This year, Dr Subramaniam is the final performer of the first night.

The illustrious Vidushi Madhavi Mudgal will take the stage with her disciple Arushi Mudgal with their outstanding presentation of Odissi dance.

Many of the phenomenal performers from previous years will be reappearing at this year’s festival, namely Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma and his son Rahul Sharma (of Wah Taj! fame), Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar, Ustad Rashid Khan, Pandit Kushal Das, Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumdar and Pandit Uday Bhawalkar.

The music buffs will also have the privilege of witnessing the performances of Padma Bhushan Dr Prabha Atre, an illustrious vocalist of the Kirana gharana, Tabalia Pandit Anindo Chatterjee of the Farukhabad gharana and his son Anubrata Chatterjee, as well as sitarist Pandit Sanjoy Bandopadhyay.

Pravin Godkhindi and Ratish Tagde will present a flute-violin duet while Pandit Yogesh Shamsi and Pandit Shubhankar Banerjee will present their duet on tabla.

Mandolin will be on the menu for the first time. A flute and mandolin duet will be brought to us by Grammy nominee Pandit Ronu Majumdar and U Rajesh, brother of eminent mandolin-artist, the late U Srinivas.

Purbayan Chatterjee will be mesmerising the audience with his sitar. We will also see Carnatic vocalists, sisters Ranjini and Gayatri, flautist Shashank Subramanyam, khayalia Arati Ankalikar, as well as vocalists Jayateerth Mevundi and Kumar Mardur.

The most seasoned performer at the festival is the 87-year-old Vidushi Girija Devi and the youngest is Ishrat Phuljhuri Khan at just seven years old.

She is the granddaughter of esraj artist Ustad Yaar Rasul Khan (aka Phulkhuri Khan), who was born in Nabinagar, Comilla in 1912. He learned to play the tabla from Baba Allauddin Khan and then the esraj from Ustad Ayet Ali Khan.

He was adorned by the epithet ‘phuljhuri’ after his magical tabla performance at the Maihar royal court where he accompanied Ustad Allauddin Khan on the sarod.

He also visited Santiniketan for a while. Rabindranath Tagore developed a fondness for his accompaniment on the esraj.
In 1951, Phuljhuri Khan joined Dhaka Radio. Ishrat’s uncle Yousuf Khan is an eminent sarod artist of Bangladesh.

This year, some 165 musicians from Bangladesh will be participating at the festival. Munmun Ahmed and her troupe will perform Kathak on the fourth night of the festival.

Notable vocalist Priyanka Gope will be delivering a solo khayal performance and directing her students from Dhaka University in a group performance.

On the second night, Mohammed Shoeb’s students will be presenting an experimental raga performance.

Bengal Parampara Sangeetalay students will be participating on different days of the festival, playing the sitar, sarod and tabla.