Hindustani-Carnatic ‘jugalbandi’ by vocalists Kale, Narayan at Sawai today

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WHEN CARNATIC vocalist Sandeep Narayan received the invitation call to be part of the 68th Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Joshi Mahotsav, he was elated to get the opportunity to do so. And for Hindustani classical vocalist Mahesh Kale, the annual music festival is a pilgrimage while this edition is particularly special as it marks the birth centenary of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi.

On Sunday, Narayan and Kale will present a Hindustani-Carnatic jugalbandi to present a harmonious form of Indian classical music for the audience on the last day of the annual music festival.

“Basically, jugalbandi is more of a battle between the artistes, but here, we want to bring Carnatic and Hindustani music together and present it as unified Indian classical music. We have been working on special pieces composed by Maheshji and a piece that I have composed,” said Narayan. 

Kale said the specially choreographed performance will be a homage to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. “This is the third time I am performing Hindustani-Carnatic jugalbandi with Narayan. It also gives me an opportunity to learn and experiment with new things…It will be a homage to the voice I personally looked up to, the voice that represented India and Indian classical music,” he said.

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The duo have been performing jugalbandis since their time together at the same university in California in 2003. Although Kale and Narayan speak Marathi and Tamil, respectively, music brings them together and the two have been working on compositions for their jugalbandhi performances for over two decades.

Talking about his first concert at the prestigious Mahotsav, Narayan told The Indian Express, “I never leave Chennai in December as, since 2001, I have been participating in the Chennai Music Festival…When I found out it was Sawai Gandharva’s invitation, I decided to come as Sawai Gandharva is not just any other festival. The experience here is going to be a completely different one and with a different audience,” he said.

Kale, who is from Pune, said that he was fortunate to be part of the birth centenary celebrations of Bhimsen Joshi. “Sawai Gandharva is extremely special…. I am so fortunate to be a part of this centenary celebration,” he said.



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