(Desi News March 2016)
Toronto audiences are in for a treat, as Anupama Bhagwat will be opening Raag-Mala Toronto’s 2016 season with a sitar recital at the Aga Khan Museum on April 2nd.
I first heard Anupama Bhagwat perform at the Dover Lane Music Conference in 2014 and became an instant fan. That she was invited back to perform at one of the premiere festivals in India after only two years shows the affection that she is held in by connoisseurs of Indian classical music.
Listening to her perform raag Bageshree (on which many famous film songs like “jag dard-e-ishq jag” and “Radhana bole” are based) was like spending time with one’s favourite aunt – you felt her love, she fed you well, surprised you with snippets of family lore that you did not know, and even revealed flashes of her younger, spirited self. One may be forgiven for getting carried away after hearing Anupama’s superlative performance!
One of the leading disciples of Pandit Bimalendu Mukherjee (the father and guru of Pandit Budhaditya Mukherjee), Anupama is steeped in the Imdadkhani Gharana tradition – one of the most famous modern day exponents of the tradition is the sitar maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan. Her style is characterized by mastery of the alap (slow unfolding of the raag or melody), the elaboration of the raag to bring out the ras (the mood of the raag) and scintillating taans, (fast musical phrases).
Now in its 35th year, Raag-Mala Toronto has featured legends like Ustad Vilayat Khan and Pandit Nikhil Banerjee to masters like Shujaat Khan and ShahidParvez. Anupama Bhagwat will be a welcome addition to this impressive list of the finest sitar players of modern times.