In concert, Mahesh Kale immerses the listener in a beauty that is hard to describe. While Mahesh sings, each person is connected to every other listener and to the universe by a string of notes. Mahesh, with mastery of sound and purity of soul, weaves stories, paints pictures, and takes us on a musical journey to discover that beauty together. Those who have attended one of Mahesh Kale’s concerts know what I am talking about. And those who haven’t will discover this connection and soul-stirring feeling on September 16th, 2017.
I have been a student of vocal music since I was twelve. On again and off again, I travelled through life, continually drawn to the overwhelming beauty in music, be it Gospel, South Indian Classical, jazz, or European Classical. But it was only after I heard Mahesh that I felt like I was finally home. I met him through a friend who was singing Yeri Ali in Raag Yaman. I asked her where she learned such a pretty song. The very next week, I accompanied her to music class, heard three notes come out of Mahesh and knew I wanted him as my teacher. Shortly after, I listened to Mahesh, live, for the first time in a baithak style concert at the Sangathi Center in Berkeley. I was speechless and irrefutably hooked.
Through music, Mahesh takes you with him on a journey. He described what that journey is like in my recent class. “I’ll tell you what it is, you are taking [the audience] on a hike with the promise of a great view. So they already have that assurance but you blow them away by the magnitude of the view. And it’s very premeditated in the scope of things. Sometimes, I took you [on the hike] but I didn’t even know there was this view. A good tour guide hits enough spots so that the person who is taking the tour is more than satisfied but doesn’t become a puppet to the task and [the tour guide] explores and discovers beauty to show as he sees it for the first time.” In concert, Mahesh seems to constantly discover breathtaking views for the first time with the audience.
Mahesh sings with an undeniable purity; the kind of purity that makes him completely transparent. Every lilting note is sung with care and love, straight from his heart to ours. In fact, Mahesh says that the best music is when the beauty is in their hearts but you bring it out of them.
Mahesh is soulful; indeed, his soul is full of love. He jokes, pranks, gives us food analogies, and stern remarks in music class, but when he ascends the stage, his soul takes over. He is no longer just a singer but a messenger of peace, love, and universal energy through sound. That energy is transmitted with the purest intention through his musical presentation that he shares with everyone. In concert, he uses all the same tools a classical artist is trained to use but he seems to be reaching for something intangible, beyond sound, and soul-stirringly beautiful. Music is his vehicle for getting there, for sending that message to every person who hears him.
So join me in an evening filled with the beautiful sound of Mahesh Kale and paint your own pictures - think, reflect, and discover the beauty for yourself. Let the music sink in deep and come away uplifted and light. The only way to describe the experience is complete transcendence.
ICMA in collaboration with Stanford University present: "Song of the Divine"- Kirtan, a musical tradition of western India
Join us for a multi-media introduction to Kirtan, a devotional song and storytelling tradition from Maharashtra state in Western India. Mahesh Kale, an accomplished North Indian classical vocalist, will perform dazzling renditions of kirtan songs, and Prof. Anna Schultz will narrate histories that bring the contexts of kirtan to life.
Date/Time: 4 May 2013 at 5:00 pm (Doors open at 4:15 pm, close at 4:55 pm sharp)
Venue: Dinkelspiel Autitorium, Stanford University
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Group discounts available for groups of 8 or more.
For more info or group tickets, please email us at email@example.com or call (408) 508 ICMA.
ICMA PRESENTS: “MELANGE”
From Dhrupad to Ghazal, Indian classical music has evolved through a cultural synthesis of several musical streams – predominantly vedic, Persian, and folk. Melange, as the name suggests, is a hand-picked assortment of the genres that enrich the musical tradition of India. In order to whet your appetite for what is sure to be a spectacular event, we thought we’d share some history and interesting facts about Indian classical and semi-classical music.
Indian classical music originates from the Samaveda, an ancient Sanskrit text written around 1700 BC that describes music at length. Dhrupad is based on this text and traces its roots to the 12th century AD, making it one of the oldest styles of Indian classical music still sung today. A dhrupad performance is characterized by a long and metered improvisation of a raga followed by a short bandish, or melodic composition. Originally sung mostly in temples, Dhrupad was popularized through the 16th century AD with strong patronage from the Rajput and Mughal kings. Emperor Akbar is among the most well-known of these kings. Miyan Tansen, a musician in his court, is often considered to be the Father of Hindustani, or North Indian, classical music. Around the 17th century AD, a new, more open and flexible style of classical music called Khayal evolved from Dhrupad. A khayal presentation is characterized by a shorter introductory improvisation than Dhrupad, a slow bandish with improvisation, and then an increase in speed with additional, faster improvisation called taans. Khayal gained popularity among artists largely because of its openness and greater scope for extemporization compared to Dhrupad. Khayal is the most prominent form of Hindustani classical music performed today.
Dadra : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHmMnAuDpWg
Here’s a beautiful Kabir bhajan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_buuncAm9Ts
Bhimsen Joshi Teerth Vitthal Abhang: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ay8svwxzmrI
It isn’t everyday that one gets the chance to sit down and talk with someone as talented and fortunate as Shri Srinivas Joshi. This fortuitous opportunity arose for me one sweltering Monday evening, thanks to the ICMA foundation. The ICMA foundation is an organization that is devoted to sharing the soul of Indian Classical music and enlightening the public about the true identity of Indian music. They debuted their organization with the event My Father, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, as a tribute to the legend. I sat down with Shri Srinivas Joshi, the late Pt. Bhimsen Joshi’s son, hoping to understand the intensity of training as a classical musician.
One would imagine that coupled with his illustrious background and remarkable life experiences, such a man would be rather intimidating; this was most definitely my initial thought. His persona was not overbearing, but his presence was clearly central to everyone in the room. He seemed rather taken aback when I approached him and asked if I could speak with him, but he asked for a few minutes to finish his conversation and then joined me on the floor of the living room, where several others turned their ears to listen in. Then, over the voices of the music students singing aalaps in the room below, he began to tell me about his life.
Joshi was born in Pune in 1971 to Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, a legendary Hindustani vocalist, and Vastalabai Joshi, another exceptional vocalist. Joshi says he had a very free and liberal upbringing, despite the traditional Maharastran upbringing. Music was ever-present during his childhood; however, Joshi did not initially wish to pursue it as a career. As a child, cricket and soccer were some of his favorite sports, although he never pursued either any more than just playing with friends. He recollected that he didn’t particularly dislike school, and enjoyed history and found that he was pretty good at math. This led to his decision to pursue Engineering in college, but after a few months, he realized that this was not the field for him. “Engineering was not a particularly good period for me,” he said, “Somehow I knew that I don’t want to do it in my life. So I completed my degrees and switched over to music.” He jokingly added: “I guess I was not so wise as to know my own preferences.”
Joshi was 22 years old when he finally decided to pursue music as a career. This led to many-a-concert, and eventually taking over the Sawai Gandharva concert that was his father’s legacy. [One of the challenges he faces is keeping the performances within the time constraints.] He started performing in 2001. Besides performing, Joshi has tried his hand at composing, mainly classical bhajans and light Hindi music. He says that he would love to compose some more in the future, especially now that he has some more time on his hands.
I was curious, being student of music myself, as to the process one goes through as a musician. Joshi then explained this to me: “there are many factors, there is an unknown factor and there is a known process. The basic process is simple, you keep on learning …when opportunities arrive you try to sing in public. The process goes on and as you improve and as your understanding grows, your maturity as a musician grows. Beyond that there is an unknown factor. Some musicians have the ability to capture their audience. You have to sing for your audience and since we are singing classical music, we must abide by the parameters laid down. But your music should also bear your own stamp.” Joshi says that finding one’s own style is a continuous process, which is set off as soon as one starts to experience music.
Naturally, finding a style also requires inspiration. Joshi says that “you take inspiration from everyday things. Sometimes students are very much affected by their teachers; their mannerisms etc. They can’t get out-that is their manner. They try to act like, sound like them.” But Joshi claims that “that was not his nature”. He preferred to listen to other artists, and the music around him, while still keeping his training in mind.
Despite what must be rigorous riyaaz and a time-consuming schedule, Joshi seems to be a family man. He lit up when he spoke of his son, and how he plans to take Karate lessons with him. “Somebody comes to our house to teach twice a week, so my son wants me to learn with him.”
In all, Joshi seems to really enjoy the simplicity of life. For now, Joshi is back in India, at home with his family. I look forward to his future concerts, and hope to come across some of his compositions.
Semi Classical forms of Music
Indian classical music originates from the Samaveda, an ancient Sanskrit text written around 1700 BC that describes music at length. Dhrupad is based on this text and traces its roots to the 12th century AD, making it one of the oldest styles of Indian classical music still sung today. A dhrupad performance is characterized by a long and metered improvisation of a raga followed by a short bandish, or melodic composition. Originally sung mostly in temples, Dhrupad was popularized through the 16th century AD with strong patronage from the Rajput and Mughal kings. Emperor Akbar is among the most well-known of these kings. Miyan Tansen, a musician in his court, is often considered to be the Father of Hindustani, or North Indian, classical music. Around the 17th century AD, a new, more open and flexible style of classical music called Khayal evolved from Dhrupad. A khayal presentation is characterized by a shorter introductory improvisation than Dhrupad, a slow bandish with improvisation, and then an increase in speed with additional, faster improvisation called taans. Khayal gained popularity among artists largely because of its openness and greater scope for extemporization compared to Dhrupad. Khayal is the most prominent form of Hindustani classical music performed today. Here are some examples of Dhrupad (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6j3EqLcyrs) and Khayal (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7KH-VJvbt8) for you to listen to.
Thumri evolved from North Indian folk music circa 1500-1600 AD, rising in popularity during the 19th century in the court of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Typically narratives about love, thumris are composed in particular ragas (scales) that have a light or romantic mood and are set to simple taals (rhythm patterns), often with a slow tempo. Many eminent personalities of Indian classical music, like Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Gauhar Jan, Begum Akhtar, Shobha Gurtu, and Noor Jahan, have embraced and performed this art form.
Example : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7iDE66o_b4
Dadra originated and became popular around the same time as thumri and resembles it in many ways. Like thumri, dadra’s lyrics are also about love. However dadras are usually shorter compositions, faster in tempo, and are thought to allow the artist more freedom in performance than thumris.
Example : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHmMnAuDpWg
Next topic is Tappa. Tappa evolved in the 18th century AD from folk songs sung by camel riders in the Punjab and Sindh regions of modern-day Pakistan. With short compositions and lyrics that are usually written in Punjabi about love, the signature of tappa is rapid, unevenly-spaced taans (improvised, rhythmic passages). Pandita Malini Rajurkar is among the contemporary artists who popularized this art, though many prominent classical singers such as Raja Bhaiya Poonchwale, Girjadevi Pandit, and Krishnarao Shankar Pandit have also embraced and performed it. Here is an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mh2EjoqtPn8
Tarana is our next topic. Tarana is thought to have originated and been popularized by the legendary poet Amir Khusro in the 14th century AD as a combination of Persian and Indian music styles. Today, it is sung all over India and is especially prevalent as an accompaniment to Indian classical dance forms like Kathak and Bharata Natyam. Taranas often have fast and lengthy taans, or improvisations. Their lyrics sometimes resemble the sounds of instruments like the sitar and tabla and do not have any known meaning, though legend has it that they evolved from Persian words. Here is an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhEuK5-XOyU
Let's switch gears and talk about some devotional forms of music. Any Indian devotional song is broadly termed as a bhajan. The word bhajan is derived from the Sanskrit word “bhaj” that means "to render service," and these songs typically describe a saint's devotion toward the object of his or her faith. Many saints and poets have written well-known bhajans that are sung widely throughout India. Amongst the most popular are those composed by the legendary saints Meerabai, Kabir. Many of Meerabai’s bhajans, like “Aisi lagi lagan Meera ho gayi magan,” (So strong is the bond [towards Krishna] that Meera has lost herself in it). reflect complete surrender to Lord Krishna. Kabir's philosophy about oneness of gods is apparent in his bhajans like “Koi kahe Ram, koi Khudai,” (Call that force whatever you will [Ram or Khuda]; inferring spirituality transcends the borders of religion) Here’s a beautiful Kabir bhajan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_buuncAm9Ts
Next topic is Abhang. The literal meaning of the word “Abhang” is "unbreakable" or "eternal". Abhangs are Marathi devotional songs praising the Hindu god Vithoba. Devotees of Vithoba sing Abhangs during their pilgrimages to temples, often over hundreds of miles on feet. The lyrics of Abhangs are thought to have originated in folk poetry and the songs themselves are often fast-paced. Saints like Dnyaneshwar, Namdev and Tukaram played a major role in composing and popularizing abhangs. Today, they are sung by both bhajan singers and classical musicians. Here’s a good Abhang for you to listen to.
Bhimsen Joshi Teerth Vitthal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ay8svwxzmrI
Sufism is considered to be the mystical dimension of Islam and Sufi music dates back to Bilal, a friend of the Prophet Muhammed. Its lyrics are inspired by the works of Sufi poets like Rumi, Hafif, Bulleh Shah, and Khwaja Ghulam Farid. The style is prevalent in many countries including India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Morocco etc. Sufi music has many forms, varying from slow-tempoed Mevlevi Sama, a style with roots in the Ottoman Empire that is usually accompanied by swirling dance, to South Asia's fast-tempoed Qawwali, which we'll talk about in our next post. Here's an interesting example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ra5nTlty6CM
Qawwali, the most well-known form of Sufi music, can be traced back to 8th century Persia (today's Iran and Afghanistan). Amir Khusro Dehelvi, a famous Indian poet and musician from the 14th century, is credited with fusing Persian and Indian musical traditions to create Qawwali as we know it today. Qawwalis are often sung by groups and their central themes are love, devotion, and longing (of man for the Divine). Qawwalis tend to begin gently and build steadily to a very high energy level in order to induce hypnotic states both among the musicians and the audience. Here is an example of a Qawwali. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03jJPLzZphw
Before we wrap up our session on semi classical forms of Indian classical music, let’s talk briefly about this very well known lyrical form of music...Ghazal! Ghazal is an expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain. The form is ancient, originating in 6th-century Arabic verse. It spread to South Asia in the 12th century under the influence of Sufi mystics. Although the ghazal is most prominently a form of Dari, or Afghani Persian, poetry and Urdu poetry, today it is composed and sung in many Indian languages as well. Some respected Urdu ghazal poets are Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Wali, Aatish, Mir Taqi Mir, Mirza Rafi Sauda, Mirza Ghalib. Here's one Ghazal for you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8ZA9zfZMQg
Bharatratna Pt. Bhimsen Joshi is the most illustrious name Hindustani classical music has ever known. Please join us for a tribute to his life and music by his own son, Shri. Shrinivas Joshi. With rare, never-before-seen audio visuals, narration, and song--and through the eyes of both a disciple and a son--Shrinivas will take us on a special journey into the life and times of this great legend.
Venue: Schultz Cultural Arts Hall, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto, CA
Date and Time: 2 June, 2012 at 7.30 pm (please note doors open at 7.10 pm, close at 7.25 pm sharp)
$40 Level I (Early bird $35 before May 19th)
$25 Level II (Early bird $20 before May 19th)
$20 Level III (Early bird $17 before May 19th)
Group discounts available for groups of 8 or more. Full-time university/college students with valid ID $10. Click here to buy tickets.
Suggested Dress Code: Semi-formal Indian or Formal
Refreshments/Dinner will be available at the event
For more info and for group/student tickets, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on (408) 508-ICMA.
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