Hindustani Vocal Music Performance by Reeshabh Purohit
At Akanksha Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj English Medium School, Pune. August 2, 2019
What would happen if you brought together a huge group of about 200 children at one place and made them listen to some intense music? Is it even possible to make them sit quietly at one place for an hour or so? To me, it seemed quite daunting. And yet Reeshabh Purohit, the 16-year young vocalist, made the challenging task of keeping some high-on-energy children engaged in pure classical music for an hour seem extremely easy. He was performing at an event organized by Baithak Foundation for Akanksha Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj English Medium School in Kasarwadi.
Reeshabh started the concert with a vilambit khyaal in raag Dhanashree, a typical of Agra Gharaana. He looked unfazed by the huge number of attendees. For someone his age, the ease, confidence, concentration, and precision with which Reeshabh sang thoughtful aalaap-s and taan-s was commendable. He sang effortlessly, keeping the kids involved in his singing. Reeshabh had Saumitra Kshirsagar and Parth Tarabadkar accompanying him on Harmonium and Tabla respectively. Reeshabh followed the vilambit khyaal in Dhanaashree with a drut bandish in Teentaal and then ended the recital with an Abhanga. After he finished singing each composition, the children in the audience responded with loud cheers of excitement and enthusiasm. Clearly, he had earned quite a few fans in the audience with his singing skills. I also learned later that Reeshabh, who has learned classical music for 10 years under the tutelage of some eminent gurus, teaches Hindustani classical vocal music at the same school. It is heartening to see someone so young try to be actively involved in contributing to the efforts to spread the joy of Hindustani classical music.
There were a few challenges during this concert. The number of children in present in the hall was one of the challenges. Despite the attempts of the teachers to keep the children seated quietly, there were a few restless ones who would either want to talk or move around. Considering the fact that none among the kids was probably over 10 years old, it was difficult to expect all of them to sit in complete silence for an hour. Then, there was continuous noise from outside – caused probably by some construction activity nearby. The power supply kept getting cut for a few seconds in between the performance. Reeshabh continued his performance without letting any of these problems affect him or his performance.
While Reeshabh did manage to keep the kids involved during the recital, the interaction, which usually takes place as part of every event organized by Baithak Foundation, could not be as effective due to the size of the group. Usually, there are about 30 to 50 participants in every event that Baithak organizes and this seems to be the optimum number to ensure a fruitful interaction in which participants can be allowed to ask questions and the artists can impart some knowledge about the basics of Hindustani classical music. In this event, the level of curiosity and interest that I had seen in other events seemed lacking. However, the fact that kids so young sat through the entire performance without much fuss was a big achievement in itself, for the school staff, for the artists, and most importantly, for Baithak Foundation. The task that Baithak Foundation has set out to achieve is a challenging one and the very fact that it is able to reach such a huge number of kids from different backgrounds and across different schools is laudable and I feel immensely happy to be able to contribute to their efforts in any small way I can.
~ Namrata Shah