Kaushiki Chakraborty: Incredible Performance in Boston

Kaushiki Chakraborty (Photo: Rahul Joshi)

WESTON, MA—Kaushiki Chakraborty on Friday proved that she is not one of India’s top Hindustani vocalists of the modern generation, but she is the top vocalist of the modern generation. Her ability to capture emotions and express them though the nuance of her vocal style and her command and control of her voice was on full display in Boston.

Chakraborty’s charming singing style, interaction with her fellow musicians, her stage presence and her ease of singing ragas at any scale with any pitch enchanted Bostoninas on Friday at the Regis College auditorium in Weston, MA. The concert was organized by LearnQuest Academy of Music.

Ms. Chakraborty was accompanied by young tabla player Ojas Adhiya on tabla and by Kedar Naphande on harmonium. LearnQuest Academy of Music President Pradeep Shukla welcomed the audience and kicked of the event. Boston entrepreneur Prashanth Palakurthi, a supporter of local art and music, introduced the artists.

Kaushiki Chakraborty (center): Photo: Rahul Joshi)

Ms. Chakraborty opened the concert with nearly hour-long song “Diya Jale” in melodious Raag Shyam Kalyan. As she sang, Ms. Chakraborty explained that she was trying symbolically to burn the lamp or candle with her voice—flickering up and down and sideways as a burning lamp (diya) does.

The full control of her voice in melodies, scale and upward and downward sequences of notes on even minuscule scale was obvious. The audience could feel each note as Ms. Chakraborty rendered her songs with utter perfection.

Priti Chakravarty, a senior faculty member at the LearnQuest Academy of Music, said that Ms. Chakraborty’s concert on Friday was excellent and mesmerizing.

“She has a very pleasing voice and rendition of songs was marked by a tremendous control of sur, lai and taal with a variety of notable elements such as imaginative improvisations and sargams with great expressiveness (bhav),” said Priti Chakravarty, who is not related to Ms. Chakraborty. “Moreover, her stage presence with pleasing demeanor and her ease of singing over three octaves was remarkable.”

Ms. Chakraborty was originally scheduled to perform at the LeanQuest’s annual music festival earlier this year, but she had to go back to India because of family reasons. Se came back to Boston this month to complete her concert she had promised.

“Here I am. My sincere apologies for not being there. I am sorry,” Ms. Chakraborty said before she began her performance. “My son was not well. I had to go back…I am entirely grateful to all of you.”

Kaushiki Chakraborty (Photo: Rahul Joshi)

After her first song, Ms. Chakraborty said that she often comes to her programs without much thinking or preparations and all that happens on the stage happens because of the blessings of her gurus.

Clad in dusky rose saree and with her signature large jhumkas, Ms. Chakraborty frequently interacted with her accompanying musicians and the audience. Later during the program, she sang some of her popular renditions such as Mujhe mare nazariya sawaria, Saraswati, and Yaad piya ki aye.

Ms. Chakraborty has been described by the BBC as “one of the brightest emerging artists in Indian vocal music.”

Within India, Ms. Chakraborty has received some of the highest honors in Hindustani music, including the 2010 Ustad Bismillah Khan Puraskar award. She has also been a pioneer in promoting female artists in India, in particular through her all-female classical music group Sakhi, which performed at Carnegie Hall in 2015.

Ms. Chakraborty has also promoted folk and regional styles in India, particularly from her native Bengal. She has performed in Asia, Europe, North America, and Australia, with world-class Hindustani musicians such as Rakesh Chaurasia, Purbayan Chatterjee, and Satyajit Talwalkar, as well as her father Ajoy Chakraborty.

Kaushiki Chakraborty (Photo: Rahul Joshi)

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi described Ms. Chakraborty as one of the few classical vocalists who will leave their mark in the 21’st century. She was born in 1980 in Kolkata and is the daughter of two well-known musicians: Chandana Chakraborty and the renowned Indian classical singer Ajoy Chakraborty. At age seven, she started learning Indian classical music at the academy of Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh, later joining ITC Sangeet Research Academy.

Although her repertoire is predominantly of Patiala Gharana, she has also studied the Carnatic music of South India and from time to time has incorporated aspects of contemporary Indian pop music, thus considerably widening her audience.

LearnQuest Academy team (Photo: Rahul Joshi)


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