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Sarod & Tabla Maestros Regale Classical Music Lovers At Georgia Tech


It was as indeed a treat for the art lovers of Atlanta to witness the Grammy nominated maestro, sarod player Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumdar of the “Senia Maihar School of Music” give a scintillating performance at the Student Center Theatre at Georgia Tech in downtown Atlanta March 29. Accompanied by renowned “tabla” player, Arup Chattopadhyay, Pandit Tajender Majumdar created a “bhakti-related” atmosphere with his soulful rendering of melodious “ragas” which stirred the emotions of the audience who gave a thunderous applause. The concert was organized by the Indian Cultural Musical Society (ICMS) of Atlanta under the leadership of Dr. Sham Navathe and members of ICMS, Kakali Bandyopdhyay and Shekhar Pendalwar, who left no stone unturned to make this concert a great success. 

Pandit Tejender Majumdar captivated the audience with the fascinating display of his fingers on the sarod. He built an instant rapport with the spectators with his rendering of Raga “Mishra Pilu” during the second half of the concert which transported the spectators into the “bhakti” atmosphere with his fingers moving with dexterity on the strings of the sarod in various variations and “layas” presenting the renderings of the “bhajans’ ”Vaishnav Jan Ko Tene kahiye Je, Peer Parayi Jaane Re” and “Raghupati Ragahav Raja Ram, Patit Pawan Sita Ram”. It reminded one of India’s “Father of the Nation”, late Mahatma Gandhi. A multi-faceted personality, Pandit Majumdar earlier gave an excellent account of his versatility by plucking on the strings of the “sarod”, Raga “Marwa”, “Alap Jhor” and “Gat” with an extraordinary tone, touch and an ambient melody. 

Pranab Lahiri, an art lover from Atlanta remarked, “I enjoyed watching Pt Majumdar’s concert immensely. I am in Atlanta since 1976 had the privilege of witnessing Panditji’s concert way back in the 1980’s in Augusta where he had performed as a “Tabla” player and had accompanied another artiste.” 
Tejendra Narayan Majumdar’s music sparkles with a rare combination of virtuosity with classical purity and a deep sense of aesthetics. He represents the legendary “Senia Maihar School of Music”, the most notable exponents of this style being Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Pt Ravi Shankar. His repertoire combines elements from the “Dhrupad”, “Tantrakari” and “Gayaki” styles of music. 

Tejendra showed considerable talent eversince his early teens and trained for eighteen years under the tutelage of Ustad Bahadur Khan. His outstanding achievement was receiving the “Pandit D. V. Paluskar Award” and “President's Gold Medal” for standing first in the All India Radio Music Competition (1981). After the untimely demise of his “guru”, he later trained under Ajay Sinha Roy. Thereafter, he was accepted as the disciple renowned instrumentalist, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. 

Pandit Majumdar pursued his interest in composing, arranging and experimenting in other areas of music. He has composed the music for Bengali films like ‘Songshoy’ and ‘Hononkal’ of Saibal Mitra, “Tollylights” of Arjun Chakraborty and numerous Bengali telefilms. He has also composed and arranged music for renowned singers like Ghulam Ali, Ajoy Chakraborty, Haimanti Shukla, Arati Mukherjee and many more. His feather in the cap was a Grammy nomination in 2011 for his music album “Soul Call- Om Namoh Narayanay”.

“Tabla” maestro Arup Chattopadhyay too gave an excellent account of his hand work by cutting out gem-like syllables of rhythm and blending filigree on the right hand drum with the depth of the left one. A disciple of maestro Pt. Shankar Ghosh, Arup Chattopadhyay is a renowned accompanist and a formidable soloist. Admired for his overall clarity, tonal quality, crystal clear “bols”, and spontaneous sense of rhythm and melody, Arup began training in “Tabla” at the tender age of six from his father, renowned Pankaj Chattopadhyay. 

He has accompanied leading Indian musicians like “sitar” maestro Pt. Ravi Shankar, Ustad Rais Khan, Ustad Aashish Khan, Ustad Shahid Parvez, Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Pt. Nayan Ghosh, Pt. Ajay Chakarbarti, Lakshsmi Shankar, Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra, Ustad Rashid Khan, late V.G. Jog, Pt. Manash Chakravarty, Pt. Arun Bhadhuri, Pt. Samaresh Choudhury, Tarun Bhattacharya, Tejendra Narayan Majumdar, Kushal Das, Partha Bose, Partha Sarathi, and Debashish Bhattacharya etc. 

Arup started accompanying Pt. Ravi Shankar in concerts all over US, Canada, Europe, and India, including performances in Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, in US, and Barbican Hall in London since 1998. 
During an exclusive interview before the concert at the Student Center Theatre, Georgia Tech with this writer, Pt Tajender Majumdar revealed that he was excited in performing at Atlanta which held a special place in his heart. He expressed his happiness over his performance in Birmingham, Alabama (on April 27) where he got a tremendous applause adding that he was also happy after being nominated for the Grammy Awards last year. 

“In the Fall of 2012, I will be in New York working with singer Chandrika Krsihnamurthy Tandon for the following project for which I have composed and arranged the entire thing and this project was done in Kolkutta, Mumbai and now New York”, he further said. It was at this time I learnt that Panditji began his musical journey by performing as a “Tabla” player and efficiently plays the “Mandolin” too.

Replying to a question as to which place he got the maximum response, Pt Majumdar said he enjoyed performing in Canada and USA where the audience has ample knowledge of “classical music” on account of his Guru’s and Pt Ravi Shankar’s contribution in popularizing Indian “classical music” by means of their concerts since last 55 years. On being asked if he planned the sequence of the “ragas’ to be performed before a concert Majumdar vehementaly stated that nothing is pre-planned. “I play a “raga’ based on the mood of the audience and the atmosphere in the theater. We are prepared to make the audience happy.” When asked as to with which “tabla” player he enjoyed performing the most, pat replied the maestro, “I have had the privilege of performing with all the maestros like Pt Krishna Maharajh, Zakir Hussain (playing with him since last 15 years), Shankar Ghosh and Swapan Chaudhri and I enjoy performing with all of them.” He attributed his success to the teachings of his “Guru” and the blessings of the Almighty.

During a “tete-e-tete” with this writer before the concert, “Tabla” player, Arup Chattopadhyay cited an interesting incident in Hawai, USA. He said that he enjoyed performing in Maui, Hawai few years ago where the people had never seen the “live” performance of the “Tabla” .”I got great applause from the audience and that boosted my morale.” He said that it was wonderful performing in Birmingham, Alabama, two days ago with Pt. Tejender Majumdar, further adding that they both trained together since childhood since they both are from Kolkata. 

Later, after the concert Dr Sham Navathe, President of I.C.M.S. thanked the artiste for their “inspiring” performance and thanked the members who assisted him with lighting, decorations and sound arrangement. Ms. Aruna Navathe presented mementos to both the artistes.

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