Pune-based artiste of Akashvani perform in Mumbai

Listen to a Pune-based Top Grade artiste of Akashvani perform a Hindustani Classical recital in Mumbai on Thursday

Tomorrow, as the clock strikes seven in the evening, Hindustani Classical vocalist, Manjiri Alegaonkar will strum her tanpura to render the Shree raga, supposed to be sung at that particular time of the day, at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) auditorium. The artiste will then go on to sing different ragas from the Gwalior and Jaipur-Atroli gharanas, bhajans, abhangs (devotional songs) and natya geet (semi-classical music) too.

Manjiri Alegaonkar
Manjiri Alegaonkar

The Pune-based artiste's solo recital is for a concert presented by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Mumbai (ICCR), in association with the NGMA, under the Horizon Series programme, that helps promote Indian Classical music.

The young and the musical
As the daughter of the established vocalist Mohanrao Karve, Alegaonkar started her Classical music training when she was six. "My father was the disciple of the late Waze Buwa, so I learnt the Classical music of Gwalior gharana along with Waze Buwa tradition," she shares. Then, she received systemic training of Jaipur-Atroli Gayaki (style of singing) from the late musicologist Wamanrao Deshpande, and Agra Gayaki from Pandit Babanrao Haldankar. "While the ragas of Gwalior gharana are simple, it was tough to learn the Jaipur-Atroli style because there are many raga combinations," she says.

As a child, Alegaonkar also began reciting for children's Classical musical programmes on Akashvani (or All India Radio) and in 2008, she was declared as a Top Grade artiste for the national public radio broadcaster. "AIR has a process (Music Audition System) where the artistes are graded according to their performance.

Earlier, musical recitals at Akashvani were recorded on spools, now replaced by a computerised process. File Pic
Earlier, musical recitals at Akashvani were recorded on spools, now replaced by a computerised process. File Pic

The grade starts from B Class, then B+, A and then, Top Grade. I gave my first audition 25 years ago, where I had to sing 25 ragas, some even on the spot, according to the examiner's request. I couldn't even see the examiners since they were sitting behind curtains," recalls Alegaonkar, who has recorded nearly 30 ragas for the radio station.

"Previously, our hour-long recitals were recorded on spools, now it's computerised," says the artiste, who finished recording for a National-level Classical recital at the radio station, yesterday. This performance will be broadcast across Akashvani radio stations. She adds, "A Top Grade artiste gets to record two or three times in a year. I have also been part of Akashvani Sangeet Sammelan, an annual pre-recorded event that takes place in front of live

Air waves
When we ask if it's enough to sustain on AIR in times of YouTube and digital music channels, she replies, "Earlier, Akashvani artistes were known as the radio stars and it was a privilege. Even today, Akashvani has a strong following from audiences of our generation. Unfortunately, Doordarshan doesn't promote Classical music anymore. In 1990, I had recorded an hour-long show with them on Classical music but four years ago, I got to record only for 12 minutes."

On March 10, 6.30 pm
At NGMA auditorium, MG Road, Fort.
Entry Free (first-come-first-served basis)

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