Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Superb Gundecha Brothers at Fes Festival

Continuing poor weather at Morocco's premier music festival led to the afternoon concert of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music being held at the Jnan Palace Hotel on Tuesday. While the venue isn't as good as the Batha Museum, visibility for the audience is poor and lighting is a nightmare for photographers, at least the chairs were dry and we didn't get rained upon!

The Gundecha Brothers from Ujjain in northern India presented their concert, The Sacred Art of Dhrupad, to a packed auditorium. Dhrupad is the oldest musical tradition of the Indian sub-continent and stems from Vedic tradition. The Gundecha brothers, Umakant and Ramakant, trained with great Dagarvani teachers in Bhopal. Here they were accompanied by another brother on pakhavaj (a barrel-shaped, two-headed drum) and a sister on rudra veena, the drone instrument.

The music begins with a long mantra-like alap of around 20-25 minutes, with its slow and deliberate melodic development gradually bringing an accelerating rhythmic pulse. It was exquisitely meditative. For once it didn't really matter that many in the audience couldn't see much of the performers; to listen was all.

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