Visiting artiste appeases Hindustani music buffs in Christchurch

Shirish Paranjape

Shirish Paranjape

Christchurch, March 15, 2023

A great performance in Christchurch (Photo Supplied)

Hindustani Vocal maestro

There are some experiences that we remember forever, or at least for a very long time. The Hindustani classical music concert by Arati Ankalikar-Tikekar held at my residence in Christchurch on March 5, 2023 will be among them.

Thanks to her soul-touching performance, a small audience of 30 music lovers was taken to another space, which is difficult to describe.

Ms Ankalikar-Tikekar was on a visit to New Zealand and Australia.

Dr Krishna Badami, a guest at the concert, described Ms Ankalikar-Tikekar as a ‘superb singer’ and exclaimed, “what a great ‘baithak’ (meeting) in that intimate setting.”

“I could not help reminiscing the power of music to transport one from quotidian, mundane worlds. That piece in raag Basant Bahar took me straight to my childhood in Roorkee (India); the chaiti (semi-classical song) to a village in Uttar Pradesh in the monsoon in an innocent, prelapsarian time; the abhang (devotional Poetry) to the holy Pandharpur,” he said.

Mesmerising raags

Classical dancer and singer Pavithra Madhuram agreed.

“While every song that Ms Ankalikar-Tikekar rendered was mesmerising, my favourite was the piece in raag Basant Bahar. Basant and Bahar are two different raags in different feels but the way the artiste merged them in the aalaap gave me goosebumps many times. As a singer, I believe that the concert was a great learning opportunity. An artist of such high calibre visiting New Zealand is rare, and a private concert in Christchurch is very special,” she said.

Padmakar Shevde said that it was an honour to be at the concert of Arati Ankalikar-Tikekar, which was well organised by Prashant Belwalkar and Shirish Paranjape. We do not often have the privilege of listening to such artists,” he said.

Chaitra Sankarabandi, a classical singer who arrived in Christchurch recently, also said that Basant Bahar was her favourite piece.

“Ms Ankalikar-Tikekar showed us how both the raags meet to create a beautiful melody that transports you to the spring season in India. It was a treat for Indian classical music connoisseurs in Christchurch and we hope to see more such concerts in the future,” she said.

A gift to the world of performing arts: Arati Ankalikar-Tikekar (From Arati Ankalikar Website)

Lifetime opportunity

Nelson Myers Daly, who plays bansuri in the Indian classical style, said that being in the presence of a singer who has dedicated her life to the world of music was a real treat.

“Ms Ankalikar-Tikekar’s singing was truly beautiful, enchanting and brilliant to witness and listen,” he said. This was echoed by Liam Oliver, who plays several string instruments including the sitar. He said, “I am very grateful to be invited and think it sets a great precedent for future house concerts.”

For Geotechnical engineer Kiran Saligame, this was the first opportunity to meet Ms Ankalikar- Tikekar and watch her live performance.

“This was a musical treat with one of India’s eminent vocalists. The two-hour performance was captivating and mesmerising and we were in awe of her singing. Her simplicity and humility were even more heart-warming and humbling as she mingled with us freely,” he said.

Exquisite finesse

Meenal Pathak said, “Music is an integral part of Indian cultural heritage, and Indian classical music is a well-regarded genre, as mastering classical music takes years of training and hard work. Having an opportunity to listen to Indian classical music by a maestro is rare, especially here in Christchurch,” she said. It was a dream come true for my family and myself, and little did we know that this would become one of the most treasured memories for us.

Attending Ms Ankalikar-Tikekar’s concert was simply an out-of-the-world experience. The enjoyable evening unfolded into an unparalleled and unique experience, so hard to describe in words.
Ms Ankalikar-Tikekar started the mehfil with vilambit lay (slow rhythm) musical notes, gradually increasing the tempo. Other pieces presented included a bandish in raag Basant Bahar, a composition of her own, a popular abhang – ‘Bolava Vitthal Karava Vitthal’ (creation of Saint Tukaram) and a few other recitals. The renditions were selected keeping the mood of the audience, time of the year in mind and were delivered with such exquisite finesse and expertise that truly justified the loud round of applause at the end of each one. On public demand, she also sang an unplugged version of her popular song ‘Mi Radhika’ in an absolutely amazing style.

Time was running out and all of us wanted that heavenly voice to just keep going, delivering the melodious recitals until eternity. But as all good things come to an end, this one also ended and that too with yet another excellent piece, in raag Bhairavi.

Such was the impact that when we were heading home from the concert, Ms Ankalikar-Tikekar’s beautiful voice was still echoing in our minds. Her musical notes simply left us all in awe with an incredible memory of divine music”

Special Day in Christchurch

Rajiv Bendre said, “March 5, 2023 was a special day in Christchurch; we were invited to a performance of Indian classical singing by the celebrated Hindustani classical vocalist Arati Ankalikar-Tikekar. The invited audience of 30 enabled the organisers the Migrant Heritage Charitable Trust and our hosts the Paranjapes, to provide a comfortable and intimate venue, with a good sound system and excellent acoustics.

“Her accompanying artists, Kishori Telang (vocalist), Sanjay Dixit (tabla) and Samir Bhalodkar (samvadini) gave us a delightful programme of raag sangeet, following the unbeatable tradition of a very slow tempo composition, starting with a lower octave, then to the middle octave and going higher, and from slow tempo phases to faster tempo taals).

The smaller audience and cosy home setting allowed an unusually intimate musical atmosphere, with Ms Ankalikar-Tikekar explaining key aspects of her performance to the audience.
The two hours of the performance seemed to whizz by in minutes, as we were all enthralled by the singing and the accompanying music.  We gave the performers a standing ovation, and then enjoyed a selection of delicious Indian snacks. What a wonderful musical treat ‘from home’ for us lucky invitees!”

Ketaki Tamhankar said, “it was lovely being there for the concert. The sound system was great. The seating arrangement was perfect – as it should be for a classical program.” While Surbhi Joshi commented,” the music program was very well organized. It created a melodious environment. Of course, words are not enough to praise the performances”.

Jitendra Sardesai, who was on a visit from Pune, said, “The concert was a surprise gift during my short stay in Christchurch. Hosts Shirish and Manik Paranjape had made perfect sound and seating arrangements with snacks, giving us a complete feel of the Sawai Gandharva Festival concert in Pune,” he said.

This unforgettable evening was a culmination of the efforts and months of planning, which started in July 2022 with a message from Prashant Belwalkar of the Migrant Heritage Charitable Trust. The concert was made possible by the support and encouragement of many friends. Its success will encourage organisers to plan similar events in future, for the benefit of the people of Christchurch and surrounding areas.

Shirish Paranjape is an Indian Newslink Reporter based in Christchurch.

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