Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav: The Annual Pune’s Classical Music Festival
Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav (formerly Swai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav) is a well-known name in the classical music circuit of the country. It is one of the largest conglomerates of Indian artists and Indian performances in the country.
Pandit Sawai Gandharva was a popular Hindustani vocalist of the Kirana Gharana. He is well known for popularizing the singing style of the Kirana Gharana. His legacy has been carried forward by his disciples Smt. Gangubai Hangal, Pandit Feroz Dastur and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi.
The festival was initiated in the year 1953 by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi after the death of his guru Pandit Sawai Gandharva in 1952 to commemorate his life and works. The festival lays emphasis on Indian classical music and musicians and forms of art. It is the largest Indian classical concert held in the country and attracts audiences not only from India but also from abroad.
The festival is hosted each year by the Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal (ASPM) in the month of December. If you are planning to visit this festival, here are some interesting facts about the Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav you should know:
- A legacy of 65 years: The festival is in existence since the last 65 years and it has always been a host to artists performing Indian classical music. The festival started back in the day and had quite a humble beginning. Ever since it has just grown in popularity and there has been no stopping. As of today, it is one of the biggest Indian classical music fest attracting people from within the country and abroad.
- Performances of famous artists: Not every day do we get to watch the maestros of Indian music perform live. For the ones who love Indian music, this is like a dream come true. The festival hosts some of the most prominent Indian classical singers like Smt. Gangubai Hangal, Pandit Feroz Dastur, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasiya perform on stage. Among other prominent figures are Pandit Jasraj, Parveen Sultana, Malini Rajurkar, Shalmali Joshi, Tukaram Daithankar, Sandipan Samajpati, Yadavraj Phad to name a few. This alone sure qualifies as a reason to rejoice and visit the festival at least once in a lifetime.
- All forms of Indian music under one roof: As we already mentioned, Sawai is the biggest conglomerate of Indian artists. One can witness all forms of Indian classical music, Indian instruments and dance forms during the festival. Be it Hindustani Khayal music, Dhrupadiyas, Bhakti geet, Ghazals, Qawwaliyas or Carnatic music, you name it and we have it.
- Biggest platform for new artists: As much as the fact remains that Sawai Sangeet Mahotsav hosts some of the most prominent names in Indian classical music, it is also the biggest platform for new and upcoming classical artists. The festival offers upcoming artists the opportunity to perform alongside the established ones. It’s a blessing for them for sure, and at the same time, it is also a treat for the audience to get to listen to raw new talent.
- A place to network: The festival not only sees a splurge of artists but also a huge influx of reporters, journalists and cameramen. If you share your love for Indian classical music with either of reporting, journalism or photography, this festival is the place for you to be. You can meet like-minded people and network with them.
- Huge audience: The Sawai music festival witnesses a strong audience of around 12,000 to 15,000 people each day. It is a great opportunity to meet new people and get to know them (apart from the obvious treat of getting to watch the artists perform). And what could be better, you get to meet people with the same interests and same bent of mind.
The Sawai Sangeet Mahotsav is organized every year in the month of December in Pune, Maharashtra. It is a 3 to 4-day event which is usually held somewhere in the first 2 weeks of the month. In the early days, the festival was held in open air. However, with the growing popularity of the festival and with the gradual increase in the number of artists and audience, it has moved indoors keeping in mind the safety of who attend the festival.
For the year 2018, the official dates have already been announced by the organizers of the program. It is scheduled to kick off on the 12th of December and will last for the next 4 days till the 16th of December 2018.
The artists performing in the Sawai Sangeet Mahotsav this year are:
Ustad Shahid Parvez (considered the finest sitar player in the world)
Pandit Birju Maharaj (Kathak)
Basant kabra (Sarod)
Milind Raikar (Violin)
Rahul Sharma (Santoor)
Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar
Goswami Gokulotsav Maharaj
Shrinivas Joshi (Bhimsen Joshi’s son)
Devaki Pandit and many more.
The availability of the tickets of the festival is announced on their Facebook page along with the links to purchase them.
So, for all you folks who are interested in Indian classical music, it is almost time to pack your bags and head towards Pune to witness this extraordinary confluence of the most talented people in the country.