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Indian Voices Day
& Darbar Festival
on the internet

Prom 41 16 August 2009 on BBC Radio iPlayer

Pandit Ram Narayan [pictured] with Aruna Narayan (sarangis);Akbar Latif (tabla)
Manjiri Asnare Kelkar (khyal singer); Akbar Latif (tabla); Sudhir Nayak (harmonium).
Pandits Rajan and Sajan Mishra (khyal singers) with Babar Latif (tabla); Sudhir Nayak (harmonium) etc etc

This will have been a memorable day at Royal Albert Hall (and nearby) for those who got there, whether their penchant is for Indian Classical Music or Bollywood...

We heard on BBC Radio 3 the morning concert, which did not fill the Albert Hall with early risers; it is still available on BBC iPlayer. The sequence was a special delight for afficionados of Indian Classical Music, amongst whom we number ourselves, going back to the earliest London appearacnes of the great Pandits Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan... Akbar Khan died in June at 88 and Pandit Shanka, born 1920, is still with us.

Many years ago there was a never forgotten Prom in which leading Indian classical musicians performed from the middle of the arena (where the fountain used to be) and their music drew us in, without the excessive amplification that has latterly become de rigeur. That was reviewed in one of many publications that sadly became defunct over the decades.

Not quite as famous as those great men is Ram Narayan, 82 [pictured], sarangi virtuoso, who brought his 'bowed lute' into the recital mainstream (think of Casals, Tertis, Segovia...) but, to his bitter disappointment, he is still better appreciated in the West than in his own country. There are family dynasties in Indian classical music and he introduced his daughter and disciple Aruna in duet, signifying continuity and hope for the future. This was for us the high point of a great concert, not to belittle the khyal singer Manjiri Asnare Kelkar or the brothers Rajan and Sajan Mishra who followed.

Cumulatively, it was a quite magnificent morning of music and readers should hear it whilst it is still available on BBC iPlayer at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/events/Proms/b00m53ww/.

Darbar on Sky Arts

August 2009 is a great month for Indian Classical Music at home; ten hours of the recent Darbar Festival can be seen and heard week nights this week and next on Sky Arts 2. They are excellently filmed and recorded from the small Purcell Room on London's South Bank Centre, with a feeling of intimacy which was not always achieved for listeners actually there. Those transmissions are scheduled to be repeated soon for those who miss them first time.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See fuller reviews of Indian Voices Day at The Proms on:

1. The Guardian: - - diverse to the point of dizziness. The pair of concerts - - began with venerable classical singers invoking the Hindu lord Krishna - - ended with a thirtysomething Bollywood star in a leather jacket and white jeans belting out: "All the hot girls/ Put your hands up and sing!"

2. Ivan Hewett (Telegraph) - - Pandit Ram Narayan and his daughter Aruna Narayan - - began to outline a tentative song, moving a step or two outwards from a central pitch, and falling back again with a sigh that was melancholy and ecstatic at once - - soaring up to the top of the instrument and down again - - ecstasy became tinged with virtuoso excitement, until eventually a series of co-ordinated down-beats brought everything to a triumphant end - - compressed into 25 minutes it could have felt light-weight, but somehow didn’t – which shows how adept these performers are at working within a Western time-frame. - - The young singer Manjiri Asnare Kelkar had an astonishingly powerful tone, and a lovely way of 'drawing’ her ecstatic vocal shakes with her hand - - the venerable brothers Rajan and Sajan Mishra - - spun a line so ecstatic and soaring it was almost unbearable.

3. Colin Clarke in Music Web