India best place to be for classical music

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Purbayan Chatterjee

By Debayan Mukherjee

Dhaka–Sitar player and composer Purbayan Chatterjee said on Tuesday that India is the best place at the moment for classical music and it is a great time to work there as an artist.

Speaking on the sidelines of the sixth edition of the Bengal Classical Music Festival which got underway on Tuesday, Purbayan said a good economy, coupled with more media coverage, has helped the classical music industry also grow in recent times.

“The music scene is super encouraging in India. India is the best place to be for entertainment industry now unless you are working in Hollywood. Even for classical music, it is best place in the world. Now thankfully, we have a good economy and a good media system,” the 41-year old told reporters.

Noted for amalgamating traditional Indian classical music with contemporary world music genres, Purbayan will be seen in a jugalbandhi with flute player Rakesh Chaurasia on the first day of the four-day meet.

Purbayan has been part of Shastriya Syndicate — the first Indian classical band with a contemporary touch — which has performed the world over at the likes of Denmark’s Roskilde Festival, Australia’s OzAsia Festival and Germany’s Traumzeit Festival.

Their album ‘Lehar’, released in 2008, was a best-seller for a year-and-a-half. Besides, renowned musician Shankar Mahadevan has performed the title song ‘Dwo’ in Purbayan’s ‘Stringstruck’ fusion album.

Purbayan Chatterjee

Besides the duo, a performance by the Astana Philharmonic Orchestra from Kazakhstan, collaborating with violin virtuoso Dr. L Subramaniam on stage, got the ball rolling at the Abahani Grounds in Dhanmondi with a festive atmosphere engulfing the capital just after Christmas and the approaching New Year.

“I have been here three times and it has been a pleasure. We are playing a jugalbandhi this time,” Purbayan said.

“I think classical music as well as music in general has become a much more dignified career option than in the past.

“There are many options of performing internationally now as well as in the country. Previously, in the 80s and 90s, performing internationally was a big thing. Now performing in India is a bigger thing,” he added.

“The kids of today come much more prepared as to what exactly they want to do.

“The audience here is always excellent and they sit till the end. You don’t get such audiences in India as well,” Rakesh said.

The pair have dovetailed for sitar and flute jugalbandhis previously as well in India.

Dubbed as the “biggest classical music festival in the world”, the gala will see the likes of Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, Ustad Rashid Khan, Pandit Jasraj (all vocalists), Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (Mohan Veena) and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia (flute) perform over the next few days. (IANS)

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