Welcoming the monsoon with music

Updated: Aug 29, 2011, 13:29 PM IST

New Delhi: The magic of the monsoons is set to be brought alive through music, song and dance in a three- day festival that begins in the national capital today.

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations is hosting a Malhaar Festival with performances by renowned musicians and dancers.

Legendary tales speak of the powerful raga in Indian classical music which when sung with passion can cause the sky to burst open in rain.

"Traditionally Malhaar used to signify an invocation to the rain gods. There are at least 12 different kinds of Malhaar with respect to the stages of rain and the various moods it brings," says Suresh Goel, Director General ICCR.

In one of the legends it is believed that the raga `Megh Malhaar` was sung to invoke the rain gods and cool musician Tansen`s body after he rendered the fiery Raga Dipak to prove to emperor Akbar that his music had the power to start a fire.

Ustad Amir Khan immortalised `Malhaar` with a track in the film "Baiju Bawra" based on the raga.

Folk singer Malini Awasthi is scheduled to open the festival followed by a performance by Kathak danseuse and choreographer Aditi Mangaldas.

Awasthi, known for reviving traditional styles of music in the benarasi style would perform several age-old monsoon based compositions such as Benarasi, Awadhi and Mirzapuri Kajri along with a few folk rain songs.

"The ICCR has been celebrating the monsoon festival for over 10 years now," says Goel.

Kathak dancer Sharmishtha Mukherjee would present traditional and contemporary choreographies based on monsoon ragas such as "Dhuliya Malhar" and "Miyan Ki Malhar".

"I am doing a total of six choreographies three of which are group dances and one solo dance depicting the monsoons.

One would be dance on recorded sound of dripping water. There will be a lot of experimentation with sound, space and music during this show," says Mukherjee.

Another danseuse Aditi Mangaldas who has attempted to carve out a contemporary vocabulary in kathak says she she would experiment with music and light during the festival.

"My first piece is based on a music composition by Subha Mudgal based on Raag Desh. I am also presenting a contemporary production," says Mangaldas.

Other artists who are participating in the festival include the Gundecha brothers who would present Hindustani "drupad" vocal music.

Other Hindustani vocalists include Ustad Ghulam Sadiq Khan of the Ram Pur Shaswan Gharana and Ghulam Abbas Khan.

Padma Bhushan awardees Pandit Rajan and Sajan Mishra who have delighted audiences with their high degree of literary content are also scheduled to perform.