Ever since the sixties, the Dover Lane Music Conference has established itself as the holy mecca for connoisseurs of Indian Classical Music.People flock to listen to and catch a glimpse of the great Ustads and Pandits of the particular timeline in action. It became the stuff of legend that people who could not gain access to the inner sanctum of Nazrul Manch, waited outside in the bitter cold and listened to their musical heroes all night long. Such are the expectations that the organizers have to live up to. Hence in light of the new strategy(implemented by them) of promoting lesser known artistes, for the sake of increase in their fame and maintaining a continuity of generations, I must say that the idea is very good for the sake of classical music, but the turnout will be compromised. Exactly as spoken, at 7.30 pm the Nazrul Manch looked empty, only certain sections of the auditorium filled with people. The lineup of yesterday gave away the real deal - Meeta Pandit, Partho Sarothy and Karthik Seshadri, Sanjeev Abhayankar, Ustad Shahid Parvez and Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar. Clearly, the heavyweights were being reserved for last so expectedly, the ‘jam packed crowd’ theory would only be proven after 10 pm.
The event began with the felicitation of the Honorable Governor of West Bengal,Shri M.K Narayanan, Pt. Manilal Nag (Sitarist, Vishnupur Gharana) and members of the Music Conference Organizing Committee, Shri B.K Chanda, Shri Pradipta Shankar Sen, Shri Sanjay Budhia, Shri Durgaprasad Mukherjee, and Shri Bappa Sen. As the emcee of the event, Nilanjana ushered them in, the crowd present gave the m a standing ovation in acknowledgement. Hereafter, the inaugural song was sung by the winner of the Dover Lane Music Competition in the Khayal category, Smt. Gopa Biswas. People stood at attention while she rendered ‘Vande Mataram’ completely in tune. A fitting start for a champion, I guess. After that, Shri Pradipta Shankar Sen delivered an emotionally charged inspiring speech which reminded us all of why Dover Lane was, is and will always be dear to us from the classical music point of view. The inaugural address given by Shri M.K Narayanan began however on a negative note, where he criticized the lack of audience, however he was quick to point out that at a musical event, speeches should take a back seat. He went on to elaborate on the necessity and benefits of the conference and their contribution to the promotion and popularizing of Indian Classical Music among the old and the young alike. There were a few awkward moments where he flatly proclaimed that Carnatic musicians are never present on the performance roster on an equal basis compared to their Hindustani counterparts.
After that ,Pt Manilal Nag was give a lifetime achievement award (on behalf of P.C Chandra Jewellers), all the Committee members and Panditji delivered heartfelt speeches. The lamp lighting by the governor of West Bengal kept the shutterbugs happy, clicking away, much to the dislike of the recording team. Then, all the people who stood first in the various categories of the Dover Lane Music Competition were awarded by the Committee members, Panditji and the Honorable Governor himself. Looking at the audience slowly trickling in after that, this event only promises to be explosive in the late hours. Ditto for the days to come.
Blog by - Riddhidev Banerjee. He has been a student of St Xaviers Collegiate School, Kolkata ,and is currently doing his 5th year as a student of BITS Pilani, and is currently pursuing a dual degree in Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering.He is also a Junior Scholar of ITC SRA, and has received the National Scholarship by the Ministry of Culture, 2009-2010. He currently resides in Pilani and enjoys music, writing and an occasional game of table tennis.