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Saptak annual music festival under way at Ahmedabad
AHEMADABAD: The 39th annual music festival of Saptak is currently under way at Ahmedabad. This year’s festival began on January 1. It will last till January 13. The festival this time around comprises 43 sessions, including two morning sessions on Sundays. This year, the festival is dedicated to tabala player Ustad Allahrakha Khan. The performers’ list includes Ustad Fazal Qureshi and Ustad Taufiq Qureshi, sons of Ustad Allahrakha Khan. Ustad Zakir Hussain, his another son, will accompany Pt. Shivkumar Sharma on the Santoor.

Many musicians from across the globe participate in the Saptak festival. A distinguishing feature of the festival this year is that senior Carnatic classical musician Bombay Jayashri figures in the list of performers. Most of the performers are from the Hindustani classical music genere. In the past, many artistes of fame such as Gangubai Hangal, Bhimsen Joshi, Pt. Omkarnath Takur and Kishori Amonkar, among others, had performed here.

Reputed Hindustani vocalists, instrumentalists and dancers such as Vidyadhar Vyas (vocal), Nityanand Haldipur (flute), Shubha Mudgal (vocal), Manju Mehta(sitar), Begum Parveen Sultana (vocal), Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia (flute), Pt. Birju Maharaj (Kathak), Pt. Ajoy Chakraborty (vocal), Ustad Shujaat Khan (sitar), N. Rajam (violin), Yogini Gandhi (odissi), Pt. Rajan Mishra & Pt. Sajan Mishra (vocal), Gundecha brothers Umakant and Ramakant (drupad), Ronu Majumdar and Mysore Manjunath on the flute-violin duet, Vishwamohan Bhatt (mohana veena), Shivakumar Sharma (santoor), Purbayan Chatterjee (sitar),Mahesh Kale (vocal and Marathi abhang), Kaushiki Chakrabarthy (vocal) and Bombay Jayashri (Carnatic vocal).

The festival will also see concerts of talented students from this Saptak school.

"Unique experience
The Saptak festival is a delight of any music connoisseur. “This celebration of music is quite a unique experience in itself. The evening's performance always begins with an emerging talent. With several luminaries in the audience, this is a grand stage for the young performer. As the evening progresses, some of the most renowned performers in Indian classical music take the stage. The rasikas often leave in the early hours of the morning with a raag Baghesri, Malkauns or Lalit still humming in their ears. It's a celebration of music in its purest form. There are no tickets, no reservations, and one gets to be in the hall only through invitation. With the hall brimming over with highly knowledgeable and sensitive music connoisseurs, the performers are motivated to put forth their best performance at Saptak,’’ said a release from the organisers.

``What makes the annual fare a memorable one is that it scales over popular demands to provide a rich bouquet of experience. While the audience gets treated to vintage khayal performances from the established maestros, they also have an opportunity to experience the dhrupad gayaki, thumris, rajasthani folk music, instrumental recitals of sitar, sarangi, flute, the mohan veena, rudra veena and percussion recitals on the tabla, pakhawaj and even the mridangam by the great contemporary musicians and musical experimentations of fusion,’’ the release added.

With nearly 125 top artistes and about 50 performances spread over 13 days, it is indeed a mega musical extravaganza.

Saptak runs a school of indian classical music. The festival has four-fold objectives:
• As a source of education and inspiration for the students of Saptak
• To present the work of the students to the discerning and culturally-sensitive audience
• To enhance appreciation of Indian classical music globally and to propagate the Indian culture and traditions
• To be an international meet for the artists, critics and connoisseurs

Over the years, this festival has achieved national and international recognition.

There are no tickets. It is only by invitation. People who are invited to contribute appropriately to meet the cost of the festival.

The festival is held at L D Arts College Campus, (Old Amrut Mody School of Management) opposite IIMA, Vastrapur, Ahmedabad.

At the Saptak School of Music one learns not just the fundamentals of Hindustani Classical Music but also a feel for the finer aspects of appreciating subtle nuances, honing aesthetic sensibilities and learning how to be a performer and a listener. Starting out in 1981 with 77 learners, the school today has more than 450 learners on its rolls.

In the fledgling years when Saptak was looking for premises to start the classes, it was Himmatbhai Kapasi, Managing Trustee of Vidyanagar High School (Usmanpura Ahmedabad), who offered the school's premises for Saptak's classes. The tradition continues even today. At 6 p.m.

Learning music at Saptak is not a time-bound, exam or syllabi-oriented study. While the starting age is eight years, there is no upper age limit at the school. The teachers are performers themselves who initiate and hone the student's skills in the guru-shishya parampara tradition.