Dhrupad music for you this Diwali

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Dhrupad music workshop and performance

Diwali Greetings to all our young friends, their parents, teachers, well wishers and supporters. As we are slowly coming out of the terrible phase of Covid-19 pandemic, Khula Aasmaan is happy to present a Dhrupad music workshop and performance by Janhavi Phansalkar. This marks the beginning of an exciting long term music project by Khula Aasmaan. We will arrange for music workshops and performances for children, college students, their parents and teachers. We plan to partner with several schools and colleges to do this. The primary objective of this project is to sensitise children and young adults along with their parents and teachers to the wonderful world of music. Several talented and passionate music artistes will conduct these workshops and performances. These artistes have devoted themselves to music.

Dhrupad

The ‘Dhruva-pada’ or ‘Dhrupad’ is the most ancient tradition of Indian Music. It originated from the ancient practice of ‘Saam-gaan’. It is a means to explore ‘naad’ or sound through the Raag. The structure of Dhrupad is such that it offers ample scope to the practitioner to meditate on each note of the raag and explore the depths of the swara (musical note) to the maximum extent possible. The character of the raag unfolds slowly and systematically through an elaborate, unaccompanied alap. The absence of accompaniment in the initial development of the raag leaves the practitioner alone with only the tanpura as a point of reference, drawing the mind in a meditative state as it focuses on the pure swara. 

It is well-known that Dhrupad makes use of specific syllables for alap. The most popular theory is that the syllables are the roots of a certain mantra. The Sanskrit alphabet has a very well-defined arrangement wherein each letter is classified according to the part of the body used in the pronunciation of that alphabet. The same idea reflects in the choice of syllables used. 

The elaboration of a raag involves the use of various techniques or ‘dhaatus’ that give the recital a definite shape. Each dhaatu, when practised meticulously, creates a different effect. 

The poetry or composition in Dhrupad is always accompanied by the Pakhawaj, which is the most ancient instrument of percussion in India. The profundity and tranquility of Dhrupad alap can be maintained only by the deep, vibrant sound of the Pakhwaj, which is why no other instrument of percussion has so far been used for the accompaniment of the Dhrupad rendition. 

Listen to the music workshop and performance by Janhavi Phansalkar

On Vimeo

On YouTube

Details of Training 

Initial 

Janhavi was born and brought up in Nagpur, where she was initiated in Hindustani vocal music by Dr. Usha Parkhi at the age of five. She learnt under Dr. Parkhi for ten years till 2005, when her parents realised her innate interest and aptitude for singing. They then moved her to Pune, for advanced training in music. 

Training under Vidushi Veena Sahasrabuddhe 

In 2005, Janhavi was fortunate to receive the guidance of the Gwalior Gharana legend, the late Vidushi Veena Sahasrabuddhe. Under her, she trained for eight years in khayal gayaki. 

Brief journey as a khayal performer 

While under Respected Veena Tai’s able tutelage, Janhavi gave performances of khayal on many prestigious platforms, such as 

  • The Dadar-Matunga Cultural Centre, Mumbai; 
  • The National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) , Mumbai;
  • Saptak Yuva Mahotsav, Nagpur; 
  • Nandan Mehta Smriti Samaroh, Ahmedabad; 
  • Sangeet Sankalp Saptah, Ahmedabad; 
  • The Saptak Annual Festival, Ahmedabad in 2013 and 2014 

She also received the following awards: 

  • The Seetaram and Malati Dixit Puraskar, 2010; 
  • NCPA-CITI Scholarship, Mumbai, 2013; 
  • Second Prize in the National Music Competition held by the All India Radio in 2013. 

Training in Dhrupad 

In 2014, Janhavi Phansalkar was blessed to be accepted as a disciple of the world renowned masters of Dhrupad, the Gundecha Brothers. She has been a full-time resident student in their gurukul known as the Dhrupad Sansthan in Bhopal for six years. At the gurukul, she received intensive training in Dhrupad singing under the Padma Shri Pt. Ramakant Gundecha and Padma Shri Pt. Umakant Gundecha and was also introduced to the Taal system followed in Dhrupad by Pt. Akhilesh Gundecha, the internationally acclaimed Pakhawaj master. 

Performance of Dhrupad 

Janhavi Phansalkar in a Dhrupad music performance

Having absorbed the nuances of Dhrupad singing in her rigorous training under the masters, Janhavi has been performing and teaching Dhrupad professionally both in India and abroad. She has not only given solo performances but has also been a part of an all-women Dhrupad Trio known as the Dhrupad Sisters. 

Some of her significant performances are listed below 

India 

  • Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Samaroh, 2019 in Pune (jugalbandi with Smt Amita Sinha Mahapatra)
  • Tansen Sangeet Samaroh, 2019, Gwalior
  • Devanandan Ubhayaker Yuwa Mahotsav, Bengaluru, 2019
  • Akhil Bharatiya Dhrupad Mela, 2018, Varanasi
  • Kalakshetra, Chennai, 2018
  • Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Mumbai, 2018
  • Dhrupad Utsavs held in Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad
  • Pt. Shrikant Mishra Smriti Mahotsav, Benaras Hindu University, 2019
  • Yuwa Dhrupad Mahotsav, Pune held by the Veena Foundation, 2019
  • Alliance Francaise, Bengaluru, 2019. 
Janhavi Phansalkar, young and talented exponent of Dhrupad music

USA 

In the fall of 2019, she travelled with Smt. Amita Sinha Mahapatra (dhrupad vocal) and Anuja Borude (Pakhawaj) in nine cities of the United States of America from September to November, 2019 as part of the Dhrupad Sisters Trio. 

During this tour, she presented jugalbandis at the following venues: 

  • Gandhi Memorial Centre, Washington DC
  • Sitar Niketan, Washington DC
  • LearnQuest Academy, Boston
  • University of North Texas, Dallas
  • Vedanta Society, Dallas; 
  • Prayas: House concert and Workshop in Atlanta
  • Vivekananda Vidyapeeth, New Jersey
  • New York Sangeet Sabha
  • Sai Temple, Chicago
  • House concert at the behest of the senior violin artist Smt. Anuradha Sridhar in Los Gatos
  • Art of Living, San Diego
  • Music Circle, Pasadena
  • Pratham Naad Practice, Seattle 

Lecture-demonstrations and Workshops: 

  • LearnQuest Academy, Boston
  • University of North Texas, Dallas
  • William Paterson University, Dallas
  • Vox Mundi School of Music, San Francisco
  • Nupur Dance Academy, Torrance, CA 
  • Pratham Naad Practice, Seattle
  • Los Gatos, CA 

Teaching 

Janhavi Phansalkar has been teaching personally and also online through Skype. Some of her significant teaching activities are listed below: 

  • Assistant Instructor of Dhrupad at the Dhrupad Sansthan Bhopal Nyas
  • Dhrupad Instructor at the Dhrupad Sankula, Bengaluru
  • Dhrupad instructor at the Naadyatra Retreat held at the Fireflies Ashram, Bengaluru organised by the Naadyatra Foundation (Delhi)

Janhavi has now devoted herself to teaching and performing Dhrupad as a full-time professional. 

Academic Qualifications 

Janhavi was also an exemplary student and was second in the Standard 12 Board Examination held by the State Board of Maharashtra. She studied law at the prestigious ILS Law college in Pune.

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