REVIEW & PHOTOS BY GIRISH MODI
Atlanta, GA: We have witnessed many musical competitions such Indian Idol in the Atlanta area. But none can match the competition organized by SwarGanga on Saturday September 13th at IACA’s auditorium inSmyrna. Contestants from all over the country participated in this day-long event. The public performance of finalists took place from 5 to 11 in the evening and was well received by real enthusiasts of classical music that included vocal and instrumental.
What was most awesome of this musical crescendo was that many participants were teenagers that put those India Idol singers who sing film songs on karaoke soundtracks to shame!
From the very first item in the melodious voice of Sushma Pawan in Raga Jhonpuri one can feel that he is in for a memorable evening of musical feast. Ravindra Deo won the competition with his tabla solo in Mayur taal and Sushma came in second.
SwarGanga School of Music was started by its founder Adwait Joshi in 2004 and it specializes in the promotion of North Indian classical music for the young, upcoming and lesser-known artists. It operates in-person in Duluth and online. Adwait himself is an accomplished tabla player, harmonium player and vocalist. SwarGanga is run in Americaas well as in Thane,India. It is a non-profit organization.
The name SwarGanga is a combination of two words –Swar (Music) andGanga(River) – both are acclaimed for their vastness, purity and divinity. SwarGanga is the ultimate example of age-old tradition embracing contemporary values. Their website is the single most popular resource on the entire internet with regards to North Indian classical music.
One by one all these young, unknown talents took the stage and mesmerized the audience in their repertoire of vocal music in various classical ragas. Among them Radhika Bhalerao’s rendition in Raga Yaman, Priya Phadke’s rendition in Raga Tilak Kamod, Nandan Shatry’s rendition in Raga Vrindavan Sarang and Rishikesh Armstrong’s rendition in Raga Miya ki Malhar were outstanding. Their control of pitch, swar and alap were beyond one’s imagination despite the fact that they are all teenagers.
Besides these artists, other artists like Sannihita Rao, Avantika Mishra song in Raga Kalavathi, Nandna Lahoti song in Raga Madhuvanti, Ayan Sinha, Madhura Managoli song in Raga Bageshri were entertaining. Many of these artists were accompanied on harmonium by Adwait and on tabla by another youngster named Lalitha whose control on the rhythm was perfect. All these young artists make you feel that you are listening to stalwarts like Ustand Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Pt. Jasraj, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, Kishori Amonkar, Hirabai Barodekar and others.
Another star of the evening was a 12-year old Tejas Venkateshwran, who received accolades from the entire audience for his mastery on tabla as well as harmonium. He was the first prize winner in the 15-under group.
Among the instrumentalists Samik Shrotaiya played a piece on violin, Noor Khan played a piece on Sitar and Chetan Anant played a piece on Flute.
In the closing, the winners were awarded cash prizes as well as certificates. Raffle was a side kick of the program and surprisingly Nandan Shastry won the Samsung Galaxy 3 phone. Final round judges Pritam Bhattacharjee, Chaitanya Kunte and Prithwiraj Bhattacharjee had a difficult time choosing the three winners out of many talented artists so they had to come up with ties for the runners up. Adwait was elated seeing the huge success of the event and vowed to bring back a bigger and better crescendo next year.