Concert with Pandit Mishra

by Joanne Sullivan (Divya)

Pandit Mishra on sitar and Shivananda Sharm on tabla

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Concert 9th January 2017, sitar master Pt. Batuk Nath Mishra with Shivananda Sharma on tabla

The announcement said “SRSG welcomes Pandit Mishra for an evening certain to transport.” And yes, it did just that.
Sitar master Pandit Batuk Nath Mishra was born into an eminent musical family of Varanasi. He studied under his grandfather, the late, great Pandit Mahadev Prasad Mishra, the king of Thumri and Dadra style as well as the esteemed Professor Thakur Rajbhan Singh of Banaras Hindu University. His dulcet tones have graced prestigious stages across India and the world.

Tonight like an explorer out on the open sea, Pandit Mishra loosens forces beyond himself. The falcon soars. Above and below, a nuanced landscape of rich emotion emerges. This man’s playing is at the stark juncture of mastery and abandon.

When a bird rides the wind does it know where it’s going? Indian classical music is the ancient jazz. A piece no sooner becomes the color blue when now it’s red and voila! It approaches colorless. It lures you on a familiar stroll—and surprise—you are suddenly on the other side of the world—in unknown desert terrain or inside the lush jungle---of the artist’s ever-changing imagination inside the mind of God. And there was somehow a perfect harmony in these turns and turning-inside-outs—no break. A rupture of worlds perhaps, but no break. It’s like knowing someone like your own self and suddenly there they are—utterly transformed—yet the same dear friend.

Does a mountain know it’s a mountain? Is it true that everything is alive from a stone to a star? If you ask a mountain a question will it answer? You can try. He did.

On the tabla, Shivananda Sharma plays the waves too. He knows how to listen, follow and call. With Shivananda, the interaction between tabla and strings follows its own brilliant logic. Sometimes, the two find secret passages to impel each other to a bold leap. Then there is the moment of coalescence where the two become one. What a beautiful weave.

After a brief feast of Indian classical music, Pandit Mishra tells us that he is going to sing a folk song composed by his grandfather. It’s about Krishna. And the secret mountain becomes a small boy whistling down a village road. The audience is led by the hand and swept away.

So I ask you again, if you ask a mountain a question will it answer? You can try. Pandit Batuk Nath Mishra knows how to make himself into a humble child.  And for this man, the mountain definitely answers.

(Photo by Jay Prakash Bahuguna)



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