Monday, 13 August 2012

Gurupoornima at Prabha Atre's Swaramayee Gurukul

By Shuchita Rao

Purple and green rangoli floor decorations greeted the music lovers who came to attend the Gurupoornima celebrations at Swaramayee Gurukul in Pune on Sunday, 9 July 2012.  In a large, well-lit concert hall on the first floor, 17 of Dr. Prabha Atre's students took turns to present Khayal, Tarana, Thumri, Dadra, Bhajan and Marathi ghazal in the presence of their guru and fellow-students. Prabha Atre appreciated their efforts with a smile and occasionally with a request to sing an additional song. She called students aside after their recital and gently counselled them on how they could have improved their performance. Dr. Atre’s stamina to sit through 17 recitals that started at 9AM and ended at 9PM was noteworthy, considering that she will complete her 80th year on September 13, 2012.

The students felicitated Prabha Atre with an arati  consisting of  80 lighted hand-made flour diyas. They did pada-puja and garlanded the elegantly dressed guru with a fragrant lily-and-rose garland. An atmosphere of joy pervaded the ceremony. Dr. Atre blessed each student by offering a kesar-peda sweet.

In a career spanning six decades, Dr. Atre, a representative of the Kirana gharana and a Padma Bhushan awardee, has performed all over the world, released several recordings, and authored books on music composition and music appreciation in Marathi and English. She worked for All India Radio and was the head of S.N.D.T University's music department at Mumbai in the early 1990s. According to Atindra Sarvadikar, one of Dr. Atre’s disciples, she has guided some 175 students to date. She now divides her time between her residence in Mumbai, Swaramayee Gurukul in Pune and a second branch of the gurukul in Sholapur, besides composing, writing articles on music and performing actively all over the country.

The ninth Gurupoornima celebration had students from different parts of India as well as countries such as Abu Dhabi and the USA taking part in the daylong celebrations at the Swaramayee Gurukul premises.  Suyog Kundalkar and Abhijit Pathaskare on the harmonium and Hanumant Padhatare and Madhav Modak on the tabla took turns to accompany the students throughout the day.

The morning session unfolded with such ragas as Bhairav, Ahir Bhairav and Nat Bhairav. After a hearty home-made lunch, students gathered in the recital hall to listen to afternoon raga Bhimpalasi, and evening ragas Bhoopali, Desh, Rageshri, Shyam Kalyan and Yaman. Nearly all the classical compositions presented were those authored by Prabha Atre.

Every singing voice showed careful grooming and it was clear that the students had worked hard for their individual recitals. “In the past Gurupoornimas, I had been asked to select a raga that I would sing in the next Gurupoornima celebrations. It helped me set a goal and prepare for a whole year to present something of substance,” said Ragini Chakravarthy, a student of the Gurukul.

“This celebration is an informal sharing of the students’ progress in music. While I do not discourage the students whose various commitments allow them limited time to take music lessons and practise, those who are training to sing professionally have no excuses,” said Dr. Prabha Atre.

Prabha Atre has inspired dozens of students to pursue Hindustani vocal music. Several students have emerged as front ranking vocalists who receive invitations to perform from all over India as well as abroad.

“In my 24 years of association with Dr. Prabha Atre, she has always made time to guide me during my visits from Abu Dhabi. She is the most generous guru”, said disciple Padmini Rao. Padmini has established a successful singing career and has released eight audio CDs. Basavi Mukerjee, another prime disciple of Dr. Atre has been teaching vocal music at Santiniketan, West Bengal for the past 15 years and released several classical and semi-classical recordings. The Swaramayee Gurukul holds free of charge music baithaks featuring high-calibre musicians every month, hosting 108 such baithaks since its inception.

Dr. Atre takes keen interest in the progress of students, understands the strengths and weaknesses of each student and provides encouragement at all times. Students who have received her guidance, love and affection are fortunate.

9 July 2012 was a memorable day for all of her students present at Swaramayee Gurukul.

1 comment:

  1. great article very beautifully written ... Regards.