On Saturday evening, the audience at IISER Pune’s C. V. Raman Auditorium were in for a musical treat as master artistes from two distinct genres came together to create a melodious fusion. The “India and Poland: When Masters Meet” concert was jointly organized by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and IISER Pune.
Ustad Kamal Sabri playing the traditional Indian instrument sarangi and Ustad Fazal Qureshi on the tabla represented Hindustani classical music, whereas Prof. Maria Pomianowska on the nearly-extinct instrument ‘suka’ and Pawel Betley on the flute represented Polish music.
Prof. Maria’s connections with India and Indian music go back a long way. She came to India over 30 years ago and learned to play the sarangi. After her return to Poland she learnt about suka, a forgotten instrument from Polish folk tradition that resembles sarangi in structure and tone. Prof. Maria revived the suka and has been innovating with its use in both Polish folk as well as fusion music.
The concert started with a solo sarangi item in raag Bihaag by Ustad Kamal Sabri, ably accompanied by Ustad Fazal Qureshi on the tabla. Next came a suka and flute performance by Prof. Maria and Mr. Betley. This was followed by a series of pieces that flawlessly combined elements from both genres, led alternately by Indian and Polish themes. Melodies depicting the haunting loneliness of deserts of Rajasthan were prominent in Ustad Sabri’s rendition.
Prof. Maria demonstrated various aspects of Polish and east European folk music, including the famous Polka dance tunes. Prof. Maria related how her compositions, while rooted in the history of her homeland, were also influenced deeply by Indian classical music. She also sang along with some of the compositions, giving the audience an authentic flavour of Polish tunes.
The pièce de résistance of the evening was the final performance: a fusion piece followed by a “jugalbandi” of all four artistes that had the audience on their feet. The highlight of the evening was remarkable way in which two completely different types of music seamlessly blended together.
–Reported by Apurva Barve