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As in previous years, the 2018 edition of the annual Swar Tarang concert to commemorate the memory of the late Samvadini doyen Pandit Jayant Bhalodkar, was a treat for classical music lovers of Auckland.

The annual concerts, organised by late Jayantji’s son, the equally gifted Samvadini artiste Samir and his family, have now become a not-to-be-missed event in Auckland’s musical calendar in the month of May – the month in which the senior Bhalodkar passed away in 2010. The concerts are free to attend.

Samir emphasises that the Samvadini is not merely an instrument for accompaniment but stands on its own, which he amply demonstrates.

The sixth Swar Tarang concert last weekend (May 19) at the Mount Eden War Memorial featured the pick of Indian classical singers and instrumentalists from Auckland and Hamilton.

Singing first was Hamilton’s Moushumi Das. She sang a bhajan in raga Mishra Mand accompanied on the Tabla by Nikhil Ghate and the Samvadini by Samir Bhalodkar. The pair accompanied all the artistes throughout the concert with great finesse.

Moushumi’s classical training and regular regime of practice was evident from her flawless renditions. She also sang a traditional Hori, in Mishra Pilu post-interval with flourishes of raga Darbari. Malaysia-born Moushumi is a medical doctor and also plays the sitar. She has performed in several countries.

Auckland’s popular singer and music teacher Vidya Teke, well known for her own annually organised concert series of Hindi film music, sang next. Her exploration of the raga Kalavati made listeners wish there were more opportunities for them to listen to her classical performances. Vidya sang a lovely Thumri in Mishra Pilu in the second half.

Mayur Tendulkar is an absolute asset to Auckland’s Hindustani classical scene. Knowledgeable and a thinking musician, he is as much a student of music’s grammar and syntax as of its aesthetics. It’s equally a pleasure to listen to him sing as much as it is to hear him speak of his muse. His growing numbers of students are lucky to have him as their mentor.

Mayur sang a full khayal in raga Maru Bihag followed by a composition in Maru Basant (a combination of Maru Bihag and Basant) composed by the late Pandit V R Athavale, revered singer-musicologist). Student Maitreyee Pande gave able vocal support while wielding the Tanpura. Mayur also sang a Rasiya in raga Desh.

Hamiltonian sitar artiste Lester Silver played raga Jhinjoti and a Bhatiyali dhun to lusty applause from the audience. His virtuosity and skill shone through his performance, particularly in the fast-paced drut in Jhinjoti.

Prashant Belwalkar was the master of ceremonies and more than 250 people attended, some from Hamilton, Palmerston North and Wellington.

First appeared in The Indian Weekender dated 24 May 2018.