2016 was the second year of our existence and we’re very proud to have put on a full summer programme. This was based around the visit and concert tour of Pt Uday Bhawalkar, accompanied by Pratap Awad on Pakhawaj, and included:
- 5-day workshop in London
- 1-day workshop in Leicester
- concerts in London, Leicester and Cambridge
- interview at the Nehru Centre London
The week started with an intimate Baithak style concert in N London. Udayji sang a beautiful rendition of Vibhas, a morning raga. The audience was enthralled and this set the tone for the rest of the tour.
For the workshop in London we were back at the Indian YMCA in central London. A few students stayed overnight, while others commuted. Given the level of interest in the workshop we increased the number of places to 23 – it was cosy, but the class of beginners and more experienced attendees was very supportive and considerate of each other.
As in previous years Udayji lead us through a variety of vocal warm-up exercises. Here is a snippet of an exercise in the Bhairav scale.
For the main raga Udayji taught Bhoop, also known as Bhupali – and if anyone came to the workshop thinking that with just 5 notes this was a ‘light’ raga lacking in depth, Udayji opened our ears and hearts to depths that we had never realised were there. By the end of the week we were able to muster a passable imitation of raga Bhoop:
We were lucky to have Pratap Awad with us this week, a young and highly talented pakhawaj player who performs regularly with Udayji. He gave some taal (rhythm) classes, and accompanied us during the workshop. Here is a snippet of a beautiful Dhamar in Bhoop that Udayji taught us.
Pratap also gave a couple of Pakhawaj evening classes during the week. We are thinking about how to develop this aspect of the workshop.
On the Thursday evening, in partnership with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Udayji was interviewed by Jay Visvadeva at the Nehru Centre in London. He gave a fascinating account of his life with his Ustaads (gurus), and how he has become deeply involved with Dhrupad. After a short concert by a talented UK-based student, Kirit Singh, Udayji inspired us all with an uplifting performance of rag Durga.
On Saturday, in a first of its kind, Udayji gave a well attended day workshop in Leicester, co-organised with the Leicester based Sitar Music Society. The workshop was set in the beautiful New Walk Museum.
The workshop was followed by a concert by Udayji in the Victorian Art Gallery of the New Walk Museum, where the paintings and sculptures from great artists set the mood of excellence in Art! Udayji performed Bhoop, the same raga he had taught in the workshops, and over the course of more than an hour he showed us the depths and emotions he could convey in this sometimes overlooked raga. This was followed by deeply moving rendition of Saraswati, a very beautiful raga with South Indian roots.
And finally on Sunday to Cambridge and the Unitarian Memorial Church for a concert co-organised with the Cambridge University Indian Classical Arts Society. Here Udayji gave a gripping performance of Bhimpalas, a soulful afternoon raga, followed by an inspirational rendition of Marwa.
After a magical 10 days, we are extremely grateful to Udayji for having shared his time, his music and himself with us. The feedback from the workshop students show how whole-hearted our appreciation is:
"Udayji is a wonderful teacher and explains clearly, supporting all students regardless of level"
"Some of the finest teaching I have experienced"
"If there was something beyond excellent!"
... and we look forward to seeing you all for next years workshop. For 2017, we are planning a residential, possibly in Leicester, followed by a short workshop in London, around the 29 July – 8 August. Do keep these dates free, and watch this space for details of the workshops and concert tour as they emerge!