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A pleasant routine

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A pleasant routine

The Economic Times, November 26, 1989

The success (or failure) of a musical performance is determined as much by “environmental” factors as by the quality of the actual performance.

By “environmental” factors I mean not merely the planning and organisation of the programme or the extent of audience participation but also the choice of accompanists, quality of the sound amplification system, balancing of instruments and the like. And the sponsors and the main artiste alike have a joint responsibility towards ensuring the success of any performance.

This is brought out in a programme last Sunday by an old timer Anjanibai Banker (Lolekar). Evening programmes are usually scheduled around 5 o’clock. It therefore sounds strange that Sajan Milap should have chose to schedule its monthly concert at 6.15 p.m.

Anjanibai who is now past 60 (though she does not look her age) is a senior vocalist who had the benefit of training first from her brother, the late Yeshwantrao Lolekar who was a disciple of the Gwalior maestro Wazebhuva. Later, she had advanced guidance from the Agra gharana veteran, Anwar Hussain Khan. Added to this professional grooming was a clear, sonorous and highly cultivated voice, in which she used to render popular and rare ragas with equal facility. One must also say that her striking stage presence has been a contributing factor to her popularity as a vocalist.

Anjanibai’s repertoire at this programme comprised khayal vilambit and drut exposition each in the ragas Dhanshree, Puriya Kalyan and Gara, with a thumri in Mishra Khamaj. Advancing age, it would seem, had naturally taken its toll and one missed the familiar plasticity of tone and vigorous manner of singing in the faster phases of the various presentations. It was thoughtful of her to have invested her numbers with the qualities of brevity and tidiness. All that her admirer had were some brilliant glimpses of her old music.

In fairness to Anjanibai it must be said that she had to contend with many handicaps the impediments of the kind that almost always detract seriously from an otherwise pleasant programme. First comes the sound amplification system. It was nothing but lousy, even atrocious. Distractions galore and constant humming from the microphones – there were as many as three of them – was an exasperating experience. This is a matter of responsibility for the sponsors.

Second, keeping in view the inherently unsatisfactory acoustics of the Gita Mandir Hall, so many microphones should have been avoided and, more importantly, they should have been properly placed on the stage.

Last but not the least comes the role of instrumental accompanists. While the veteran sarangiya, Anant Kunte, faithfully followed the principal artiste Aftab Ahmad on the tabla was not only loud and jarring but also erratic in his “sangat”. The vocal support that came from Suvarna, Anjanibai’s elder daughter, could have been better coordinated. Sangeeta, the younger daughter, looked diffident on her harmonium. So much so that S. G. Tikekar, the lawyer vocalist, who was in the audience came forward to wield the instrument with practiced ease.

All in all, the programme was beset with a sort of insouciance right from the start. At best, the programme can be summed up as a pleasant routine.

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