Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Musical weekend.

I went to Manipal to attend the last day of the SPIC MACAY national convention. Why the last day? Because it is the day when you get to hear great music all night long. Jeen haan! An entire night from 8 pm to 6 am of classical music!
Manipal is about 400 kms from Bangalore and it takes around 10 haours to get there by bus. An overnight journey which is very comfortable in a nice luxury bus and on a highway, it posed no problems to me. It is near the sea and Magalore, which is quite nearby is a harbour city.
Manipal itself is entirely centred around the famous Manipal hospital and medical college. It is a town which gets its identity from the completely commercial enterprise of providing higher education. Though I was aware of Mainipla hospital and MIT (dont be confused, it is just the Manipal Institute of Technology), I was not aware of MIC (communication), MIM (management), etc, etc. There is also a polytechnic institute and other such things. They gave me a prospectus along with the conference bag but it is something I have misplaced.
The place is hot and humid, and I spent most of the day sweating like a pig. There was this occasional cool spell when clouds gathered but it did not rain much while I was there. Monsoon is around the corner and is the season of pre-monsoon showers. So, it is natural to expect the place to be humid but the humidity was alarmingly high and it was extremely uncomfortable in the day. Fortuntely, the all-night concert was being held in an air-conditioned auditorium.
I got introduced to SPIC MACAY chapter members of Bangalore and I have been invited to one of their weekly meetings during lunch and I sat their concluding session.

The evening started with carnatic classical music - violin by T N Krishnan, vocal by TN Seshagopalan, and flute by N Ramani. After this we had Hindustani - Ashwini Bede(Vocal), Asad Ali Khan (Rudra Veena), F Mansur (Vocal).
All of them great excellent performances and it was a delight to hear them. Ustad Asad Ali Khan was at his best as usual and Ashwini Bede's voice echoed off the farthest walls with the same (high) intensity. for all those morons who watched Indian Idol (I believe, it is some 15 crores), I would suggest them to hear Ashwini Bede or TNS or F. Mansur, but then their brains probably do not have the capability to appreciate a truly great voice.
I was particularly impressed by Ustad Mansur. He began with raag Bahnkar (or Bhakar) and I was mesmerised by it. His performance was the first time I heard a vocal recital from start to end with the same (high) enthusiasm. Of course, I love Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, etc but I have never heard them live and if you have ever been to a live concert, you will know the difference between that experience and listening to a recording.
I would love to get hold of Mansur's recordings (is there somebody willing to share ;). Need to start hunting places in Bangalore where I can get quality classical cds...
I do not have words to describe the experience of an all night concert. It is something that I do not have words to describe.

Though, I did go as far as Mangalore (in fact, further than that), I did not visit any of the visitable places and there are not many pictures. I was too absorbed in the music after a while...

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