Eclectic mix of musicians at this year's Gunidas festival

Amarendra Dhaneshwar

Mumbai, Dec. 4 -- From veterans such as singer Pandit Jasraj to younger stars such as vocalist Rashid Khan and violinist Kala Ramnath, all the way to the child prodigy Akash, who plays the flute, musicians spanning the full range of age groups will perform at this year's Gunidas Sangeet Sammelan.

In its 36th year, one of India's most high-profile music festivals is eclectic in other ways too -vocalists from three distinct traditions and players of three different instruments will perform.

The festival opens with Ramnath, 48, one of India's most accomplished violinists. Ramnath, who trained under her aunt, the violinist Dr N Rajam, as well as Pandit Jasraj, skilfully combines the gayaki ang (a school that says instruments should be made to 'sing', i.e. sound as much like the human voice as possible), combining the styles of both the late Omkarnath Thakur, a stalwart of the Gwalior gharana, and Jasraj, a doyen of the Mewati gharana.

"Every instrument, from the sitar to the sarod, tends to approximate the human voice," says Ramnath, who will be accompanied on the tabla by the brilliant Yogesh Samsi. "But a bowed instrument such as the violin can do it more faithfully. Of course, to do this, one has to master a perfect technique."

Based in Andheri (West), Ramnath is a globetrotter. She performed last month at an event in Amsterdam that also featured sitarist Ravi Shankar, the all-time star of Hindustani music, and played with The Hague Philharmonic.

On the last day, Milind Chittal, 52, based in Dubai, will sing - the first time at this festival. Blessed with a rounded and powerful voice, Chittal has been trained by Phiroj Dastur, Yashwantbuwa Joshi and Dinkar Kaikini, but his style is strongly reminiscent of Bhimsen Joshi. "I would like to pay a tribute to my three gurus, all of whom passed away when I was in Dubai," said Chittal. He will be followed by santoor player Satish Vyas, with the grand finale being Jasraj's recital.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.