Raag-Mala Toronto’s 36th season opens on March 25th with a rare concert featuring both North Indian (Hindustani) and South Indian (Carnatic) music by Pt. Ronu Majumdar and Sri U Rajesh.
While both forms of music sprout from the same roots, their expression over the years have flowered along two distinct paths. Hindustani music, for example, was greatly influenced by external forces, particularly during the Mughal era.
“The last time we had such a joint North-South concert was in 2011,” says Raag-Mala’s Zahid Khan. “That year, we had the giant of Carnatic vocalists, the late Pt. M. Balamuralikrishna, perform with Ronu Majumdar, who was already making a mark for himself. We are delighted to have Ronu ji, now a flute maestro, back on the Raag-Mala stage, this time with the youthful mandolin virtuoso U Rajesh”.
The planning for this North American tour by Majumdar and Rajesh began last November at the Bengal Foundation Music Conference in Dhaka, where the two musicians performed together to great acclaim. Toronto is privileged to be the first stop in their six-week multiple city tour.
U Rajesh studied the mandolin under his brother, the brilliant maestro U Srinivas, whose sudden passing several years ago left a huge void in the Indian music scene. Stepping into the breach, Rajesh has done his guru proud, performing on prestigious stages in India and abroad, including the Lincoln Centre in New York.
Notably, Rajesh has performed across different genres, with musicians such as Ud. Zakir Hussain, Ud. Sultan Khan, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Shankar Mahadevan, Hariharan, Louis Banks, multi-percussionists Sivamani & Pete Lockett, Bickram Gosh, and Niladri Kumar. He also performed with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra and KNZ Philharmonic Orchestra.
Majumdar took up the flute under the guidance of his father Dr. Bhanu Majumdarand then studied under the much revered Pt. Vijay Raghav Rao. Majumdar marvels at his good fortune to have also received training under Pt. Ravi Shankar. While Majumdar too has dabbled in music from other genres (his collaboration with Bella Fleck on the album Tabula Rasa was nominated for a Grammy Award), he remains firmly rooted in shastria sangeet. In 2014, he was awarded the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award by the President of India.
“While Raag-Mala Toronto tends to focus on North Indian classical music, we look forward to showcasing the commonality of Hindustani and Carnatic music,” says Raag-Mala’s Zahid Khan. “And who better to do this than two artists who are in their prime?”
Mohamed Khaki, President Raag-Mala Toronto
Where and when:
Saturday, March 25th at 7pm
McLeod Auditorium (University of Toronto Campus)
Tickets online: sulekha.com/toronto
Inquiries: Rishi 647-521-3816, Manoshi 416-493-1338