Each and every year, one feast is reserved for the lovers and admirers of Indian Classical Music. Sawai Gandharva Festival, this giant musical feast is available every year and I am there to attend it without any failure.
Sawai Gandharva Festival brings almost all of the famous artists on the same stage. It lasts for 4 to 5 days and presents 4 to 5 artists a day. So, it is obvious that people and also critics start comparing the performances and many times, commit mistakes.
Many times, these mistakes are due to love and respect for one particular artist and even hatred for another artist. But, these are minor factors for professional critics who give their reviews in newspapers. Many a times, new listeners get their views affected by these critics which in turn creates permanent dislike for some artists which are really genius.
This time, I had kept a strict eye on all the famous newspapers who were publishing reviews of Sawai Gandharva Festival. Almost all of them did show that critics need to have a clarity about music, its purpose. To give an example, many newspapers claimed that performance of Pandit Jasraj was not up to the mark. I just do not know what to say to these people. Do they even know about whom are they talking? Pandit Jasraj is in his eighties with his voice still ranging over three and half octaves. If you still listen to him to hear some musical gymnastics, you have wasted your musical life. I listen to Pandit Jasraj just to feel his vibe, just to feel his presence, just to feel unity he attains with the divine while singing. Critics of Sawai Gandhava Festival should note that purpose of music is not to enchant audience. The purpose is to attain unison with god and enchanted audience is just the byproduct.
Same thing happens with Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia in Sawai Gandharva Festival. Many a times, critics even dare to call his performance boring and without energy. This man, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia is absorbed in music for more than 50 years. Today, his complete body shivers due to old age. Still he performs better than artists from the younger generations. His performance is not boring but the critics fail to catch and feel his silence. They cannot see the stability of his breath and his being.
During festivals like Sawai Gandharva Festival, many times young artists and matured artists perform on same day. The point to note is that, younger artists certainly have more energy. But as far as musical maturity and meditativeness of music is concerned, critics fail to observe it in the performances of matured artists.
Image from- sudharaghunathan.com