At the age of 68, the Dover Lane Music Conference experienced the glamor and exuberance of a 20-year-old in 2020 – with a mixture of excellent and inferior music, which was financed by a large number of sponsors for four nightly sessions dedicated to it were Pandit Ravi Shankar's centenary and in memory of the late Ramakant Gundecha. Sarod Maestro Aashish Khan received the Sangeet Samman of the year.
Kolkatas Nazrul Mancha, the venue for this long-awaited winter soiree, was still the most popular meeting place for musicians and celebrities from all over the world. The latter come here to be seen, make contacts and make a fashion statement! It is possible because in addition to classical music in the huge auditorium with several thousand seats, exotic food and drinks are available all night long in the stands, which are lined up nicely in front of the hall. Any disappointing appearance would overwhelm gourmets and increase sales of these inviting stands.
And so it went with constant commotion in the hall and in front of the stage, except maybe on the last day! In the fully occupied hall, Pandit Jasraj, a non-alternative young man, experienced the grand finale in the early morning hours with verve. The broadcast of his interpretation in Ragas Charukeshi, Gurjari and Miyan ki Todi enhanced the spiritual melody when he sang "Allah Jaane" before closing with a bhajan that praised Lord Krishna.
Synchronous: Pt. Bhajan Sopori and Abhay Rustum Sopori
Before that, the evening began with a sparkling recital by Pandit Bhajan Sopori and Abhay Rustam Sopori, the father-son duo who embodied the ancient guru Shishya Parampara. Her alap in Raga Bageshri was based on the majestic nuances of Dhrupad, such as long-lasting notes, emotional oscillations, deliberate mends, heavy gamaks and artistic Merukhand-based phrases – with nuances of bold and soft lilts. Demanding listeners responded warmly to this unusual achievement, which they achieved on an instrument like Santoor. Encouraged, they extended the rhythmic journey of iodine jhala segments longer than usual and, with the inspired, dramatic support of Rishi Upadhyay (pakhawaj) and Abhijit Banerjee (tabla), made countless variations of dancing melodic designs. The Gatkari in Raga Kausi Knada showed that they had different talas under control. It was no less exciting than a drums quartet with many Sawal-Jawab and Saath-Sangat,
Another father-son team arrived next, but this time Armaan Khan, the junior, was a teenage beginner compared to Ustad Rashid Khan, and yet with his steady support based on long, peaceful tones, he won hearts while his guru appeared to be in a bad mood, played with chromatic gandhars and nishads (a strict no in Indian classical music) and jumped from octave to octave to touch the Ati Mandra Shadja in almost every melodic movement. So the real pathos of Jog Kauns – a raga that almost always unfolds its inner beauty as soon as it is touched by Khan's loving, intoxicating voice – remained despite the calming presence of Vijay Ghate (Tabla), Murad Ali (Sarangi) and Vinay Mishra (Harmonium) icy). In comparison, his interpretation of Basant (Lagi un sang preet) was beautiful, as was his Thumri. No doubt his magic fascinated everyone!
Next, the carnatic rhythm ensemble with greats like Vikku Vinayakram (Ghatam), V Swaminathan (Mridangam), Selva Ganeshan (Khanjira) and Umashankar Ganeshan (Morsing) inspired the audience to keep the rhythm, instead of falling asleep during a post midnight session! This was a blessing for a comparatively young but extremely competent sarod exponent Amaan Ali Khan. His version of Nandkauns came with a short one auchar and Gatkari around 2.30 a.m. His next choice was a sophisticated Todi, followed by a lesser known raga, Anand Bhairav, with a beautiful composition dipped in Gayaki-Anga and from the treasury of his famous Gharana.
Other highlights of the festival were Dhrupad Maestro Uday Bhawalkar (Yaman); Khayal masters Ajoy Chakrabarty (Ahir Lalit), Ashwini Bhide (Khem Kalyan) and Venkatesh Kumar (Maru Bihag). The sitar masters Shujaat Khan (Sampoorna Malkauns) and Kedia Brothers (Manoj and Mor Mukut – (Chandranandan)).