For the past 50 years, Swar Sadhna Samiti has provided a platform to emerging talent on the Indian Classical music scene in the country.
The goals of the organisation, however, have remained the same: “Our main aim is to promote upcoming talent,” says Rupa Sethna, joint secretary, Swar Sadhna Samiti. In keeping with this aim, the Samiti organises free concerts that are open to the public. This Sunday, will mark the organisation’s 609th concert.
In the beginning
In 1961, Dr Aban Mistry — India’s first woman tabla player — and her guru, Keki Jijina formed the organisation in a one-room office in Dhobi Talao that doubled as a venue for a music class. Dr Mistry, who is now in her seventies, has a doctorate in music and has served as visiting professor at various universities in the country. It was in her capacity as professor that she met teachers and students, who were tremendously talented, but didn’t have a platform to showcase their talent.
“Abanji started learning music when she was four,” says Sethna, adding, “Ustad Amir Hussain Khan was so impressed with her performance at a concert that he immediately decided to take her under his wing and school her.”
Concerts on Sundays
Since 1961, there has been a concert held every month featuring at least three artistes, usually classical vocalists and instrumentalists, though there are occasions when classical dancers have also been featured.
“Zakir Hussain performed at one of the early concerts,” recalls Sethna. “Others who have performed here include Kishori Amonkar, Rajan Sajan Mishra, Prabha Atre and Nayam Ghosh,” she adds.
Besides the concerts, they host an annual three-day event called the Swar Sangeet Sammelan, where established artistes share the stage with newbies. The Samiti also hosts regular competitions for children.
“They are given cash prizes and trophies and also get to perform at the Bal Sangeet Sammelan or the Kishor Sangeet Sammelan, depending on their age,” says Sethna, adding that they provide scholarships to three or four deserving students to help them study music further. Given that they do not charge the audience and that they pay a small amount to the artistes, how are the funds generated? “We have membership fees,” informs Sethna, adding, “While members don’t get too many perks, when people see the work we are doing they become members to contribute to the cause and help our endeavour,” concludes Sethna.