“A Musical Evening” – Sangeet Mela 2016 in Indian Link

via Indian Link magazine…

A musical evening

October 07, 2016 / by / 0 Comment

East marries west at Sangeet Mela 2016

Time flies when you’re having fun! This was an apt adage to apply to Sangeet Mela 2016, which had a highly successful third edition in Brisbane at the Multicultural Centre, Kangaroo Point, in September. Organised by Ethnosuper Lounge and Sangeet Premi Club, Sangeet Mela has established itself as a must-attend event on the cultural calendar. More significantly, it has also become a forum for recognition of young talent.

Sangeet Mela 2016.Indian Link

This year’s Sangeet Mela started with a powerful Carnatic recital by Oavijaya Bavnendrakumar and Mathuja Bhavanendrakumar, accompanied on the mridangam by Hariharan Vaheesan. Each of the trio were presented with a Rising Star Award.

This was followed by an exceptionally evocative Hindustani vocal recital by Ananya Muralidharan. The Bhavanendrakumar sisters’ Carnatic display and Ananya’s Hindustani classical performance were two contrasting genres, but the youngsters all infused a breath of fresh air into the Indian classical music landscape. They displayed maturity and technical finesse much beyond their years.

Next came a Bharatnatyam performance by Vellantina Ravirajah, a sublime symmetry of fluid dance movements. Both Ananya and Vellantina were also awarded Rising Star Awards.

Sangeet Mela 2016.Indian Link

Zuheb Ahmed Khan from New Delhi performed a tabla solo and blazed the trail with his consistently brilliant beats characterised by uncanny intuition. Zuheb is decidedly the finest proponent of theAjrada gharana and has a well justified claim to international fame. His performance featured a dazzling range of compositions from off-beat Peshkar to rapid, flowing Rela and sent the audience to the interval eagerly awaiting more unfolding layers of musical wizardry. After the break, Bindu Rajendran’s Mohiniattam performance was well-received by the audience, and her experience inabhinaya, or expression, was clearly visible, as she displayed the emotions, sentiments and relationships that Mohiniattam, a classical dance form of Kerala, is renowned for.

International artist Charulatha Mani, performed a Carnatic recital which she interspersed with humorous one liners. She targeted the audience who were not aware whether the pauses in the recital were to be applauded or not!

“A few more years of Sangeet Mela and you will definitely know when to clap,” she declared, much to the amusement of the audience.

Sangeet Mela 2016.Indian Link

Currently studying a PhD in music at the Griffith University Conservatorium, Charulatha is gifted with a melodious, musical voice, amazing creativity and a vast fan following all over the globe. She has also composed music for Tamil and Hindi films and is a regular on Jaya TV, a southern Indian television channel. She definitely had the finger on the audience’s pulse.

“I am going to sing Raag Sindhu Bairavi, which is as powerful as the five elements. Fire, water, earth… and two others.” She said it with such a straight face that the audience were in splits.

She spoke with Indian Link about her experience in Australia, especially within the tertiary education sector.

“Australia’s educational system grants more freedom and gives breathing space to the students whereas Indian system insists on a rigid indoctrination to some extent,” she shared. “However, there are both positive and negative points in both systems.”

Sangeet Mela 2016.Indian Link

Sydney’s Sayak Bhattacharya wowed the audience with a Hindustani vocal recital in his perfectly melodious voice, and impressed the audience with his humble persona. Sayak also has a penchant for using his talents for fundraising and the audience were informed that he had recently raised $6000 for Westmead Hospital.

The best parts of the show were reserved for the end, as Janani Ganapathi took over the stage and gave a scintillating performance of Bharatnatyam accompanied by a live ensemble. She also did the explanatory introductions to each of her segments, though she seemed a bit breathless towards the end. The audience were riveted by her technical finesse and postural grace and she received thunderous ovation.

Sangeet Mela 2016.Indian Link

The show’s finale however was the most fascinating sitar and cello jugalbandi by Shubhendra Rao and Saskia Rao-de Haas from New Delhi. Pt Shubhenra Rao is one of the last musicians to learn the sitar under the true Guru Shishya tradition from Pt Ravi Shankar. Distinguished as a musical bridge to many cultures, he created an excellent experience along with Saskia Rao-de Haas on the Indian cello, with the audience begging repeatedly for encores.

The show was compered by Dr Helena Joshi and Alka Jaggessar, both accomplished Kathak dancers. Joseph Abhay Nand on harmonium, Sridhar Chari on mridangam, Shen Flindell on the tabla and Kranthi Kiran Mudigonda on violin were the accompanists. Yusuf Alikhan of the Sangeet Premi Club said that Sangeet Mela has matured and grown due to the efforts of the festival director Shen Flindell.

Sangeet Mela 2016.Indian Link

“Indian classical music traces back its origin to 1500BC and I hope that the show refreshed and recharged you with its excellent content showcased by the local and international artists,” Yusuf said.

A vote of thanks was proposed to Councillor Jonathan Sriranganathan of the Gabba Ward, and the Brisbane City Council for the financial grant that was bestowed on this year’s edition of Sangeet Mela.

Kudos to the organiser for creating such a fantastic show!

Sangeet Mela 2016 – Heaven on Earth for Music Lovers

Sangeet Mela, now in its third year, continued its trend of ever more fabulous Indian classical performances on Saturday 3rd September 2016 at Queensland Multicultural Centre. The high quality of each item kept the near capacity audience riveted to their seats, and there was a building sense of anticipation for the final “East Marries West” jugalbandi by international feature artists, Pt Shubhendra Rao (sitar) and Smt Saskia Rao-de Haas (cello) with Sri Zuheb Ahmed Khan (tabla).

alka-jaggessar-8Sangeet Mela 2016 MCs Ku Alka Jaggessar and Dr Helena Joshi

The festival opened with performances by young artists under 25 who had applied for the Sangeet Premi Rising Star Awards and the chance to perform at this prestigious festival. Mathuja Bavan, who won the award for Bharat Natyam dance in 2015, returned to the stage on violin, accompanying her younger sister Oaviya who received the award for Carnatic vocal. They were joined on mridangam by fellow award winner Hariharan Vaheesan and his guru Arthavan Selvanathan.mathujq-7

rising-star-5Rising Star Award winners Hariharan Vaheesan, Mathuja Bavan and Oaviya Bavan with Brisbane Indian Times editor Sri Umesh Chandra

The featured Rising Star in Hindustani vocal was Ananya Muralidharan, who enchanted the audience with her sweet voice, rendering Raga Bhimpalassi and a short bhajan most beautifully. ananya-8Finally Vellantina Ravirajah received the award for Bharat Natyam dance and demonstrated her talent in abhinaya (facial expressions) and drama. tina-18We heartily congratulate this year’s Sangeet Premi Rising Star Award winners and look forward to many more great performances from them.

The afternoon session closed with a tabla solo by Sri Zuheb Ahmed Khan, a member of the founding family of Ajrara Gharana. His performance featured a dazzling range of compositions from off-beat Peshkar to rapid, flowing Rela and sent the audience to the interval eagerly awaiting more.zuheb-33

The second session opened with a captivating performance of Mohiniattam dance by Smt Bindu Rajendren, certainly one of the highlights in a day full of magic moments. Her padams “Karukarey Karmukil”, “Enthaho vallabha” and “Pandhattam” had the crowd enthralled with her wide palette of expressions from humorous to serene.bindu-94

dsc_0670Sangeet Premi Club president Yousuf Alikhan invited the audience to spread the word about Sangeet Mela and Indian classical music and dance.

Smt Charulatha Mani (Carnatic vocal), with accompaniment by interstate artists Sridhar Chari (mridangam) and Kranthi Kiran Mudigonda (violin), gave a consummate presentation of how so-called “difficult” classical music can be presented with mastery and grace, and become spell-binding for any listener regardless of background. She even had everyone laughing when she responded to some hesitant applause with “a few more years of Sangeet Mela and you’ll know when to clap!”charuthatha-mani-121sridharchari-13

The sunset session was closed by young Sydney vocalist, Sri Sayak Bhattacharya presenting Raga Bihag followed by a short rendition of Raga Puriya Kalyan, with able accompaniment by local artists Sri Joseph Nand (harmonium) and Sri Shen Flindell (tabla). The ease and fluidity of his voice evoked his renowned guru Ustad Rashid Khan, and it was hard to believe that he grew up mainly in Sydney.sayak-bhattacharya-71sayak-bhattacharya-36

dsc_0914Festival director Sri Shen Flindell, Brisbane Indian Times editor Sri Umesh Chandra, Councillor Jonathan Sri of The Gabba Ward, and Sangeet Premi Club president Sri Yousuf Alikhan. 

Following the dinner interval, we had a special performance by Bharat Natyam dancer Ku Janani Ganapathi with a live ensemble of local and interstate musicians led by vocalist Smt Susmitha Ravi and natthuvangist Smt Usha Chivukula.janaani-240 Janani gave a masterful performance and the electricity manifest by the dancer and musicians creating their art simultaneously added to the excitement and attraction.


Councillor Jonathan Sri of The Gabba Ward addressed the audience while the stage was being set up for the final item. The Gabba Ward supported Sangeet Mela 2016 through the Suburban Development Fund. His comments about the importance of cultural events like Sangeet Mela and how it would be better to spend a bit less on sport and more on culture were very well received.dsc_0169-1

At last the moment every was waiting for had arrived. Having witnessed a wide variety of excellent Indian classical performances, everyone was in the mood for something really sensational and their expectations were exceeded by Sangeet Mela 2016’s grand finale. shubendra-rao-30Pt Shubhendra Rao, protegee of the great sitar maestro Pt Ravi Shankar, with his wife Smt Saskia Rao-de Haas, pioneer of the Indian cello, had the audience captivated from first to last with their jugalbandi. In particular, the sound of the cello with its long deep meends and beautiful tone, and Saskia’s lively and at times ecstatic demeanour really stole the show.saskia-rao-de-haas-173

The harmony and interplay between Shubhendra’s traditional Maihar gharana sitar and Saskia’s innovative cello demonstrated a couple deeply in love and honouring each other through their shared devotion to classical tradition. Alap-jor-jhala in Raga Jog was followed by vilambit and drut gats in Rag Charukeshi, where tablist Zuheb Ahmed Khan added tasteful accompaniment and thrilling solos. The artists responded to the standing ovation and calls for encore with a lovely short medley of Vaishnava Janato and a Bengali dhun.saskia-rao-de-haas-103

A day of smiles and thrills, meditation and ecstasy through music and dance had come to a close. The festival organisers Sangeet Premi Club and EthnoSuperLounge are very grateful to the sponsors and supporting organisations, artists, volunteers and ticket buyers for making it all possible. We eagerly await Sangeet Mela 2017.

Photo credits: Brian Sullivan and Barani Ganapathi. See many more photos in our Sangeet Mela 2016 Facebook album.

Sangeet Mela 2016 was supported by the Lord Mayor’s Suburban Initiative Fund and The Gabba Ward, and proudly sponsored by Platinum Sponsor SolarSpan, Australia’s favourite all-in-one patio roof, insulation & ceiling, giving superior comfort & style to your outdoor area. Also supported by Supporting Organisation Sahaja Yoga Meditation, Silver Sponsors Homeopathy for Health (Rukmani Paliwal), Sitar Restaurant, Target Travels & ToursYoga With Yolanda, IGA Forest Lake, and Exclusive Media Sponsors Brisbane Indian Times and Australian Indian Radio. Sangeet Mela is organised bySangeet Premi Club in conjunction with EthnoSuperLounge, and underwritten by a consortium of dedicated Indian classical music lovers including Australia-India Cultural Exchange AssociationTabla Wala Australia, and FinancialFirst.

East Marries West at Sangeet Mela 2016

Shubhendra and SaskiaBack in the sixties, two virtuosos, Ravi Shankar and Yehudi Menuhin brought the music of the East and West together with their historic collaboration titled ‘East Meets West’. Five decades later, Shankar’s protégée, Shubhendra Rao and brilliant Cellist Saskia Rao-de Haas, prove that the music of East and West no longer just meets but are ready for an abiding relationship through their path breaking music East Marries West.

Shubhendra Rao and Saskia Rao-de Haas will perform at Sangeet Mela 2016, Queensland Multicultural Centre on Saturday 3rd September. Sangeet Mela is Australia’s premiere Indian classical music and dance festival including both Hindustani (Northern) and Carnatic (Southern) styles.Smt Saskia Rao-de Haas

A leading magazine writes about Shubhendra Rao, “Here is not just a master at the sitar, but a thinking musician taking his instrument beyond convention. He has become a musical bridge to many cultures.”

Saskia Rao-de Haas is a pioneer in the world of music for introducing her Indian cello to North Indian classical music. Speaking about Saskia, her guru, flute maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia said in an interview on the news channel Headlines Today: “She has been taught by God and everyone should listen to her music.”

Shubhendra and Saskia, with tabla accompaniment by Zuheb Ahmed Khan, will present the grand finale jugalbandi performance at Sangeet Mela 2016, an annual celebration of Indian classical culture now in its 3rd year.

Along the way, the audience will be treated to Bharat Natyam dance by Janani Ganapathi with a live musical ensemble, leading vocalists Charulatha Mani and Sayak Bhattacharya, beautiful Mohiniattam dance by Bindu Rajendren, and sensational tabla solo in the Ajrara style by Zuheb Ahmed Khan of Delhi.

Sangeet Mela 2016 will commence at 2:30pm with performances by the winners of the Sangeet Premi Rising Star Awards for young Indian classical artists under 25 years old.

“This event is one of a kind in Australia, bringing together top international and interstate artists with our best local and young talent, ” said Sangeet Premi Club president Yousuf Alikhan. “We are doing our best to promote and cultivate Indian classical music, which is something all Indians can be proud of regardless of region or religion.”

“It’s very refreshing to see the enthusiasm among young people to master these magnificent arts. We have such incredible talent here in our community. Mathuja Bavan, who is performing on violin this year, also won the Rising Star Award for Dance last year. What a great achievement!”

Full details of Sangeet Mela 2016 including programme, artist bios and ticketing can be found at the event website, www.sangeetmela.org.

Sangeet Mela 2016 is supported by the Lord Mayor’s Suburban Initiative Fund and The Gabba Ward, and proudly sponsored by Platinum Sponsor SolarSpan, Australia’s favourite all-in-one patio roof, insulation & ceiling, giving superior comfort & style to your outdoor area. Also supported by Supporting Organisation Sahaja Yoga Meditation, Silver Sponsors Homeopathy for Health (Rukmani Paliwal), Sitar Restaurant, Target Travels & ToursYoga With Yolanda, IGA Forest Lake, and Exclusive Media Sponsors Brisbane Indian Times and Australian Indian Radio. Sangeet Mela is organised by Sangeet Premi Club in conjunction with EthnoSuperLounge, and underwritten by a consortium of dedicated Indian classical music lovers including Australia-India Cultural Exchange AssociationTabla Wala Australia, and FinancialFirst.


Sangeet Mela 2015 – A glorious celebration of Indian Classical Culture

Article published in Brisbane Indian Times October 2015 edition, though with a smaller selection of photos:

September 19 saw Queensland Multicultural Centre hosting Sangeet Mela 2015, Australia’s premiere festival dedicated to both Hindustani and Carnatic classical music and dance. The event was a big success, with the packed venue rejoicing in the resonant tones of sitar, violin, tabla, mridingam, vocals and much more from early afternoon until late in the night. The calibre of the performances was such that each new item was eagerly awaited.

Altar thanks to Usha and Sush Chivukula and various friends

The opening session highlighted the Sangeet Premi Rising Star Award winners – 5 young artists who were selected for their dedication to excellence in Indian classical arts. Congratulations to Mathuja Bavanendrakumar (Bharat Natyam), Sanjey Sivaananthan (tabla solo), Manbir Singh (Hindustani vocal), Roshini Sriram (Carnatic vocal) and Arthavan Selvanathan (mridangam) for their admirable efforts in reaching such high standards despite primarily growing up outside Mother India. The growing national reputation of Sangeet Mela and the Rising Star Awards was evidenced by the presence of Manbir Singh who flew up from Sydney at his own expense to receive the award.

Ku Mathuja Bavanendrakumar (Rising Star Award winner: Bharat Natyam)

Sri Sanjey Sivaananthan (Rising Star Award winner: Tabla), accompanied by Sri Adarshbir Singh (dilruba)

Sri Manbir Singh (Rising Star Award winner: Hindustani vocal – Sydney)


Ku Roshini Sriram (Rising Star Award winner: Carnatic vocal), accompanied by Sri Arthavan Selvanathan (Rising Star Award winner: miruthangam) and Sri Kranthi Kiran Mudigonda (violin – Sydney)

Roshini receiving Sangeet Premi Rising Star Award from Yousuf Alikhan 

Dr Indranil Chatterjee (sitar) with Sri Shen Flindell (tabla), enjoying completion of Raga Bhimpalassi in matta taal and teentaal.

We were graced with the presence of several international artists, starting with beautiful Bharat Natyam dance by Janani Ganapathi (Switzerland), immediately followed by one of the day’s most popular items, a tabla solo by Pt Pooran Maharaj (Varanasi) who presented compositions in the traditional Benares Gharana style made famous by his father Pt Kishan Maharaj. Along the way local artists Dr Indranil Chatterjee (sitar) and Dr Mansey Kinarivala (vocal) matched the high standards of the visiting artists. Credit too must go to all
the local and interstate accompanists including Joseph Abhay Nand (harmonium), Adarshbir Singh (dilruba) and Maharshi Raval (tabla – Sydney) who gave able support throughout the day.

Bharat Natyam dance by Ku Janani Ganapathi

Tabla solo by Pt Pooran Maharaj (Varanasi) – accompaniment by Sri Joseph Nand (harmonium, off-photo) and Sri Adarshbir Singh (dilruba), taali support by Sri Maharshi Raval and Sri Shen Flindell.

Carnatic flute recital by Sri Sridhar Chari (Melbourne)

Hindustani vocal recital by Dr Mansey Kinarivala.

Stalwart harmonium accompanist Sri Joseph Abhay Nand

The evening session opened with local Kathak dance star Dr Helena Joshi who dazzled the audience with dynamic spins and footwork, accompanied by a live ensemble of top local musicians led by tabla player Shen Flindell. Then followed sublime Hindustani vocals by Kumar Gaurav Kohli (Jalandhar) whose performance included an amazing Raga Mala effortlessly traversing 18 ragas in the space of a few minutes, and the festival closed with renowned Carnatic vocalist Smt Manda Sudharani (Vizag), with fantastic accompaniment by interstate artists Sridhar Chari (mridangam) and Kranthi Kiran Mudigonda (violin). We were really blessed to have such high level performers visiting us in Brisbane and it was only possible thanks to the growing reputation of Sangeet Mela as such a prestigious event.

Kathak dance by Dr Helena Joshi and live ensemble: Sri Shen Flindell (tabla), Smt Usha Chivukula (vocal), Sri Joseph Nand (harmonium), Sri Adarshbir Singh (dilruba), Sri Murali Ramakrishnan (bansuri).

Dr Helena Joshi (Kathak dance)

Kumar Gaurav Kohli (Hindustani vocal) gave a memorable performance.

Smt Manda Sudharani (Carnatic vocal)

Organisers EthnoSuperLounge and Sangeet Premi Club are grateful to all of our sponsors, volunteers, performers and of course the audience for supporting Indian classical music and its development in our region. We are optimistic that Sangeet Mela will continue to grow
year by year and make Brisbane a focal point for Indian classical arts nationally.

Cast photo of those performers who could be there at the end!

2015 Sangeet Premi Rising Star Award Winners announced

We are proud to announce the winners of the Sangeet Premi Rising Star Awards for Sangeet Mela 2015:
: VOCAL (Hindustani) – Sri Manbir Singh (Sydney)
: VOCAL (Carnatic) – Ku Roshini Sriram
: BHARAT NATYAM DANCE – Ku Mathuja Bavan
: MRIDANGAM – Sri Arthavan Selvanathan
: TABLA – Sri Sanjey Sivaananthan

They will be performing at Sangeet Mela 2015 from 2pm, followed by top local, interstate and international artists. Experience the cream of Indian culture at Sangeet Mela 2015 on 19th September at QLD Multicultural Centre. Ticket bookings: http://tinyurl.com/SangeetMela2015