The Esplanade Presents ›› Kalaa Utsavam - Indian Festival of Arts › back to home

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28 Nov 09, SAT

90mins, no intermission
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Esplanade Recital Studio

  1. Synopsis
  2. Biographies
  3. Exclusive Interview

According to a legend, Lord Krishna himself, seducer of 16,000 ladies with his bansuri, once played the instrument while walking down a street some 5,000 years ago, and the melodies were so mesmerising that lost cows found their way home and damsels abandoned all to run to him! Far-fetched though it seems, the tale contains a seed of truth. For the bansuri, a North Indian side-blown bamboo flute, is certainly cherished for its beautiful, gentle timbre, a sound perfectly suited to depicting sentiments of love. Fall in love with the music of bansuri master, Rakesh Chaurasia.

Descendent Of Bansuri Royalty

Modern-day bansuri player Rakesh Chaurasia may not be in the league of Lord Krishna, but he certainly is of great musical pedigree. He is the nephew and disciple of none other than the “Prince of Bansuri”, Hariprasad Chaurasia.

A classicist in many ways, Hariprasad was also an innovator who created new expressive possibilities for the bansuri with his powerful blowing technique, and explored other musical genres. So when a young Rakesh picked up his first flute at the age of four and was promptly taken under his renowned uncle’s wing, he received the best training a student of bansuri could hope for.

Himself A Rising Legend

From a five-year-old child prodigy, Rakesh has since developed into his uncle’s most accomplished disciple and demonstrates all the potential needed to carry the Chaurasia legacy to new heights.

Just like his legendary uncle, Rakesh possesses the right balance of strength and serenity, critical factors for an exceptional flautist. His dextrous blowing technique and training in swar (musical note) and tala (rhythm) enable great emotional expressivenes.

Not only well-known in India where he has given countless performances, Rakesh has performed all over the world to acclaim, enthralling audiences in Japan, Australia, Europe, South Africa and USA at classical and semi-classical concerts, as well as major music festivals such as WOMAD in Athens, the Festival of Saint-Denis in Paris and the Leicester International Music Festival in England. He was invited to conclude a 24-hour live music broadcast to a worldwide audience on the BBC radio celebrating Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee. For his efforts, Rakesh received an Indian Music Academy Award from the Honourable President Of India Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam in 2007 and Aditya Birla Kalakiran Puraskar in 2008.

A concert of soulful romance

With Romance of the Bansuri, Rakesh will perform a repertoire of mainly romantic ragas. Audiences will not be able to help but float on the sweet tones of Rakesh’s bansuri to a magical realm of peace, harmony and sheer beauty.

Rakesh will be accompanied by maestro Vijay Ghate, considered one of the present generation’s most brilliant and exciting tabla players, pakhawaj maestro Bhawani Shankar and talented tanpura player Nandani Chaurasia. The tabla (drums) and tanpura (a sound box) are both typical accompaniment to the ancient bansuri, providing a subtle backdrop of sound and rhythm for the bansuri player.

“As soon as the flute touches his lips, magical notes flow out.
……his talent has held audiences spellbound the world over…” - Neighbourhood Flash, New Delhi

“The very first note of Rakesh Chaurasia’s flute reminded you of the dexterous technique of his Guru and uncle Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia.
Rakesh shows all the promise to carry the Chaurasia legacy forward…” - Swagat, 2004

Bansuri : Rakesh Chaurasia
Tabla: Vijay Ghate
Pakhawaj: Bhawani Shankar

Read about “Flute of the Gods” here
Read about “How Old Is The Bansuri?” here

Rakesh Chaurasia (bansuri)

The nephew and most accomplished disciple of flute maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia, Rakesh Chaurasia looks set to carry on the Chaurasia legacy with his tremendous talent. Like his legendary uncle, Rakesh possesses the right balance of strength and serenity, critical qualities of an exceptional flautist, as well as a dexterous blowing technique and great expressiveness.

The accomplished musician has recorded with most of the leading stalwarts of the Indian film industry. He has also performed extensively in India and around the world, performing solo at major events in India, enthralling audiences at classical and semi-classical concerts in Japan, Australia, Europe, South Africa and USA, and performing at prominent festivals like WOMAD in Athens, the Festivals of India in Russia, Japan, USA and Europe, the Festival of Saint-Denis in Paris, and Leicester International Music Festival in England. He was invited to conclude the 24-hour live music broadcast to a worldwide audience on the BBC radio celebrating Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee.

Rakesh received an Indian Music Academy Award from Honourable President Of India Dr.A.P.J Abdul Kalam in 2007 and the Aditya Birla Kalakiran Puraskar in 2008.

Vijay Ghate (tabla)

Vijay Ghate, originally from Jabalpur, started learning his art at the age of three in Jabalpur. He then moved to Mumbai, and trained for over twelve years under Suresh Talwalkar, becoming well-known at 16 for his solo performances.

Known for his creativity, imagination, clarity and dexterity, Vijay is one of the few tabla players adept at accompanying all the three streams of vocal, instrumental and dance performances. Over the last decade, he has accompanied well-known classical artists such as Jasraj, Ustad Vilayat Khansahab, Hariprasad Chaurasia , Amjad Ali khan, Shiv Kumar Sharma, Birju Maharaj, Ram Narayan, Shahid Parvez , Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Kala Ramnath and Ronu Majumdar, as well as western fusion artists such as Larry Coryell, Egberto Gismonti, George Brooks and Danny Gottleib, and Indian fusion artists including Sivamani and Shankar Mahadevan. He has associated with Niladri Kumar, the well known sitar player, and formed a band called AATMA.

Bhawani Shankar (pakhawaj)

Bhawani Shankar learnt pakhawaj and tabla from his father and guru Pandit BabulaIjI, the great maestro of Kathak dance, pakhawaj and tabla-Jaipur Ghrana. He gave his first classical performance at the age of 16 under the baton of Padmashri Sitara Devi and Padma Vibhushan Kishan Maharaj in Kanpur, and received further training from mridangam guru Makhanlalji and Shivlalji Kathak of Ajrada Gharana.

Bhawani Shankar has performed extensively throughout India, both solo and with artists such as Ustad AIllah Rakha, Samata Prasad, Bhimen Josh, Jasraj, Shiv Kumar Sharma, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Sultan Khan, Roshankumari, Madhurita Sarang, Vikku Vinayakram and John McLaughlin. He was duly awarded ‘Taal Shri' in 1986 and ‘Taal Vilas' in 1996, and received honorary certificates from the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Indian High Commission In West Indies Oslo, and a Military Commendation from Manipur (Imphal).

Esplanade: How was it like as a child growing up with such a rich musical legacy?
Firstly, I feel blessed to have been born into this family with such a rich legacy. A child’s mind is most impressionable in the formative years. The child absorbs all the elements in the environment of his/her growth. For me, it was music. The draw of the ‘Bansuri’ was therefore a natural instinct. Attending classes for lessons in ‘bansuri’ playing was as routine as attending school for academics. Traveling with Babuji on concert tours definitely acted as an added incentive to better my skills.

Esplanade: Do you think that you would have chosen to be a bansuri player if you had not had your musical background?
No! What I am today is only because of Babuji’s presence in my life. He is the source of all my inspiration. As a Guru, he has instilled in us not just lessons in music, but a code of conduct to lead one’s life! The magic of his music has mesmerized me since childhood. Thus my decision to take up ‘Bansuri’ playing professionally was a logical conclusion, considering the environment I grew up in.

Esplanade: You’ve performed a range of music from divine ragas to dhun to electronic meditative collaborations with an array of musicians. What is your favourite form of music and why?
The language of music is only that of divinity. Be it pure classical, fusion or film-based music, these are only various paths to the same destination! Since I originate from the world of Indian Classical Music, I tend to lean a little more towards this form and hone my skills therein. But I believe, for a thorough understanding of music, one’s experimentation and learnings from different genres is mandatory.

Esplanade: What do you enjoy the most about music?
The fact that it is universal! No nationality, caste or religion can claim ownership of ‘Music’.

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