At the onset of Autumn, our 3rd edition of the classical musical gathering “Mehfil” was again overwhelming.
This fall edition added an extra flavor, as this event coincided with one of the most important autumn festival of India “Navaratri”.
Navaratri is an auspicious occasion according to the lunar calendar and it is considered to be the period of devotional sadhanas (is a discipline undertaken in the pursuit of a goal) and worship of Shakti (the sublime, ultimate, absolute creative energy).
Remarkable was that the music and the atmosphere created an positive energy and reflected the sadhana of the musicians.
The event once again flabbergasted the audience and brought in much excitement and energy.
Amid the audience one of the music/art lovers shares her experience in the following review.
We would like to appreciate and thank our dear audience for the immense support and motivation.
We hope to bring you more of such musical gatherings…stay tuned!
- Sharmili Mitra, Host Mehfil
Review: MEHFIL -The Fall Edition
It was a beautiful early fall evening in Amsterdam. No wind, a little humidity in the air, terraces still crowded, a pleasant temperature, and a lot of traffic rushing to one-of-many-things-to-do in the big city. I got out of a taxi in front of Theatre The Cameleon, with a light headache after busy and a long week.
After I was welcomed outside by Mitch (Imperceptible Art), I entered a huge hall, and went up the stairs. When I came up, it felt like I just went through a tunnel, leaving all intensity of city crowds behind.
With lights turned down low, candles lit, incense burning, Indian flowered decoration, floor rugs, there was a serene and homely atmosphere created in the old Amsterdam theater. With lovely Chai (Indian tea) from Emel’s Kitchen, I started to feel relaxed and I quietly took place on a seat close to the stage.
As it was my first time going to a Mehfil, I did a little research before about the music and the platform behind it. If Mehfil stands for experiencing music in a intimate setting, I think they already succeeded.
The journey started with words from Mehfil initiator and host of the evening, Sharmili.
She introduced Ms. Anna Slaszka, conservator South-Asian Art, The Rijksmuseum. It was a surprise for me that the Dutch Rijksmuseum also treasures Indian Art. Anna led us into the majestic history of Indian classical music, dating back thousands of years. For me this information was very welcome, as it made me more curious about what was to come. I’ve heard some Sanskrit before, as I was part of a ‘mantra- group’ for a few years, but I never really got into the heritage of this art form.
Our first artist of the evening, extensively introduced by Sharmili, was Satyakam Mohkamsing. A young, very talented violinist with a different way of holding the violin, which I had never seen before. Satyakam performed a recital based on a raga scale named ‘Sarasvati’ (a raga is one of the melodic modes used in Indian Classical music).
He started off very intimate, with beautiful solitary tones which touched my heart immediately. It seemed to also get into my head, cause the last bit of headache, faded in every touch of sound.
Beautiful sounds, painting pictures from ancient times.
They heal…? can this be true?
Then the tabla, played by Walid Nowrouzi, joined Satyakams’ melody. Walid, brought rhytmical measures and patterns, which I couldnt really descipher, so I just let it get into my vibe.
I loved the conversation between the melodic sounds of the violin and the drumming sounds of the tabla. I took me to fast floating rivers, lakes, forests and hills high up in the sky. I didn’t want this journey to stop, but the recital was over and I was brought back into the present evening. Satyakam’s violin can be as sweet and neat as it can be bold.
After a short break, where I had a lovely homemade ‘coconut-baklava’ from Emel’s Kitchen and another creamy Chai, we were ready for the next artist, sarod player Avi Kishna.
Avi made us feel even more welcome by his words before he started to play. He shared his thoughts on his humble effort to depict a certain mood through his recital. The raga scale he would play in, raga Shree, is commonly performed in devotional or meditative settings.
I love the typical ‘sonoric’ sound of sarod. It is hard to explain, but the resonance of the sarods’ strings gave me a certain feel of being at a safe spot. Avi’s personality directly flows into his sarod on his first strumming of the strings.
Avi also started slowly and took us on another journey. He played these wonderful repeating phrases which Walid complemented with ease through his tabla. What I’ve seen this skillful tabla player do with his hands on the tabla, is truly amazing.
This time the music took me from the ease of still water to the edges of waterfalls down into deep mountain caves. My mind at times wondered off, at peace, but suddenly the increasing pace that Avi & Walid played at, took me back on adventure.
Avi can really “rock” his sarod. After the climax of sounds, the journey came to an end. Again I was left with wanting more.
What also caught my attention during the evening was, one boy of around ten years of age, sitting on one of the floor rugs right in front of the stage, closely watching Avi’s wonderful technique.
After I approached him and his mum, he appeared to be a pupil of sitar artist Siddharth Kishna. It was good to hear the boy had been playing sitar for four years already! It touched me, to see a young Dutch boy captivated by a not so familiar instrument and practicing a not so familiar musical style.
As a music teacher, I wish more Dutch kids would get in touch with Indian classical instruments. Not just as part of cultural education, but also to discover new music and sounds.
Maybe they could even develop a musical talent they wouldn’t have otherwise?
This Mehfil was my first journey into Indian classical music, but certainly not my last. This music, the ambiance, the vibe and these artists should be cherished and need to be heard by more people. I’m not saying that the organizers should get into a bigger venue, as it would take away the coziness. However, if more people would come to experience events like these, it would most definitely touch more souls.
Seeing and experiencing these artists live on stage is, as said by Sharmili, truly mesmerizing, which I certainly agree on.
In these times where people feel divided, anger and fear, to be able to share moments like these is very much needed.
So people, get out of your comfort zone, come and experience good vibes at the next Mehfil - The Winter edition.
Teacher in Music and Dance
Primary Schools, Amsterdam
Photo Capture by J-Eyez