Vidushi Piu Sarkhel sings from the heart

By Aradhana Bhatt

The relatively small audience who braved the polar blasts on the evening of Sunday, August 11, were treated to a rare delight. Sur-Sandhya with renowned singer Vidushi Piu Sarkhel was organised by Swar Ganga Musicals, at Redgum Function Centre, Wentworthville. Swar-Ganga is a music school, established five years ago by Sydney based singer and music teacher Bhagirathi Bhatt. The school is devoted to promoting Hindustani Classical Music through teaching music to students of all ages.

Smt Piu Sarkhel is a prominent artist of the Indore Gharana of Hindustani Music and has performed widely in India and around the world. A prodigy of a musical family in Calcutta, Piu-ji’s training in music began before she knew. Later she gained formal training from her father and guru Sri Kamal Bandopadhyay, who was a disciple of the legendary Ustad Amir Khan Saheb, the doyen of Jaipur style of singing. Apart from being a performer par excellence, Piu ji, is ”˜Piu Maa’ to her students. She calls Rajkot (in Gujarat) her home now and has been a devoted Guru, to her students of classical singing, for almost two decades.

Sur-Sandhya began with a brief performance by Swar Ganga’s young and enthusiastic students who sang Aalap and a Madhyalaya- medium tempo Bandish in Raga Bhimpalasi, in perfect unison and tune. Another group, a group of Swar Ganga’s mature aged students opened the post-interval session with a chorus rendition of Raga Yaman, displaying the eternal truth in the saying ”˜It is never too late to learn’.

Piu-ji began with Raga Madhuvanti a twilight melody, which she rendered with poise after the initial few unsettled minutes. Her rendition of the Raga demonstrated the typical Meru-khand Gayaki of her Gharana. ”˜Saanjh Bhayi’- her Vilambit Ektaal was followed by the beseeching-imploring ”˜More ghar aavo Shyaam’ in Madhyalaya Teental. Semi classical Bhajans were in the post-interval line-up, which included some of our time-honoured treasures like ”˜Jau Kahan Taji charan Tumhare’, Meera’s  haunting bhajan ”˜Mhare Ghar Aavo Pritam Pyara’ and ”˜Mei to Saavre ke Rang Raachi’. The evening came to an end with the soul-stirring Bhairavi Jhaptaal ”˜Bhavani Dayani’. Sydney’s able and versatile Abhijit Dan accompanied her on tabla flawlessly. Dr Raspal Singh, another talented Sydney musician provided apt harmonium accompaniment. Both musicians were at their best and the trio seemed to regale in their cohesion.

Harita Mehta hosted the evening with grace and spontaneity.

Indian audiences have learnt to expect late running events. This event was no exception; it started off with a few sound related hiccups after its usual delayed start. The audience thus left with a question mark looming ”˜Could we have had more of the artist’s singing, had the evening commenced on time?’ Yet, overall a musical feast to relish and savour, a treat that will linger in our memories for a long time to come.

Pics. K C Studio Photography        

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