BY ADWAIT JOSHI & CHAITANYA KUNTE
Atlanta, GA: SwarGanga Music Foundation has been working in the field of North Indian Classical music since 2004. The organization’s purpose is to promote Indian Classical Music across the world. This is done via various initiatives namely SwarGanga School of Music, Crescendo and SwarGanga Music Festival (India).
SwarGanga School of Music has been imparting North Indian Classical Music lessons to not only students in Atlanta, but also worldwide via online classes. SwarGanga is also an authorized body to conduct music exams in the Southeast part of USA under the banner of the respected Akhil Bhartiya Gandharva Mahavidyalay Mandal. The SwarGanga website is one of the largest resources of Indian Classical Music in the world. With nearly 15000 registered members, the site reaches out to more than 150 countries.
SwarGanga has also been organizing various music events around Atlanta. One such event is Crescendo, a north Indian classical music competition for the residents of US and Canada. This event opens on 1s January each year. Students are given time to prepare for the first round of the competition. The competitors then submit their entries online and are judged by various music performers all over the world. A selected few progress to the second round and a similar elimination process takes place. After two online rounds the finalists travel to Atlanta and perform with live Tabla and Harmonium accompaniment to win cash prizes and a commercial CD release.
Crescendo 2013 had a great response. After initial eliminations from among approximately 75 participants, 21 participants were short-listed for the final round. The Mega final and final event took place, at the Georgia Tech student center auditorium on August 31st & Sept 1st 2013. These 21 participants competed in three categories – below 15 years of age, 15 to 25 years of age and above 25 years of age.
The first day started with the performances of candidates in ‘Below 15’ category. The auditorium was filled with sweet voices and lilting melodies. The candidates presented many compositions in variety of Ragas with equal grace.
The second day was a sheer treat to listeners as there were instrumentalists along with selected voices. The soothing Flute by Chethan Anand and Chloe Bennett, Sitar by Nurool Khan, speedy fingering patterns while playing Jhala on Harmonium by Vibhas Watve proved to be listener’s delight. The vocal performances by Nisha Kulkarni, Avani Deshpande, Neha Reddy, Aditi Tata too got huge applause. Narendra Kulkarni’s Gaud Malhar, Aditya Shah’s Malkauns, Nandna’s Chandrakauns, Gauri’ Bageshree were the best moments of the vocal performance.
But the real extravagance was Tabla Solo by Vivek Pandya. This mere 9 years old wonder-boy held the audience spellbound as his fingers spelled out very difficult, traditional compositions in Tabla which usually takes years to master – the audience gave a standing ovation to his mesmerizing performance.
The overall standard of performance, even of the kids, was so high that the three judges, namely Pritam Bhattacharji, Prithwiraj Bhattacharji & Chaitanya Kunte were made to work out hard on their criteria for choosing the exact winners. It was extremely difficult for the three judges – Shri. Pritam Bhattacharji, Shri. Prithwiraj Bhattacharji and Shri. Chaitanya Kunte to choose the winners as every kid was as good as a professional performer.
The winners for Crescendo 2013 were Vivek Pandya for Tabla (New York, disciple of Anindo Chatterji) and Nandna Lahoti for vocals (Phoenix, disciple of Shri Manu Srivastava). In the below 15 years age group, the first runner-up was Gauri Niwargi for vocal (New Jersey, pupil of Shri Hemant Kulkarni) and second runner-up was Vibhas Watve for Harmonium (Toronto, Canada, disciple of Shri Kedar Naphde). In the 15-25 years age group, Aditya Shah (Tampa, FL, disciple of Shri Radharaman Kirtane & Shri Ratan Mohan Sharma) was the winner, and the runner-up was Chethan Anand on flute (Chicago, Illinois, disciple of Shri Ronu Majumdar). In the above 25 years age group, the winner was Narendra Kulkarni for vocal (California, disciple of Pandit Arun Dravid) and runner-up was Chloe Bennett on flute (Toronto, Canada, disciple of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia).
Tejas Tope, the winner of Crescendo 2012, accompanied the participants on Tabla and later showcased his maturity and virtuosity while presenting impromptu Peshkar, crisp Kaydas, Gats and Rela in Teental during his solo Tabla performance after the competition. Shri. Chaitanya Kunte accompanied him on Harmonium. Srikar Ayyala a disciple of Shri. Hemant Kulkarni who travelled all the way from New Jersey accompanied all the participants on Harmonium.
SwarGanga’s entire volunteer crew worked almost nine months to make this event possible. In 2014, Crescendo is going to four cities across the United States and the Mega Final will take place in Atlanta. For more information visit www.swarganga.org.