Friday, 14 November 2014

Soumik Datta Arts - Indian and Western classical musics meet

Soumik Datta
Soumik Datta
Soumik Datta is a British-Indian virtuoso sarod player who studied composition at Trinity College of Music and trained with the sarod maestro Pandit Buddhadev Das Gupta. His charity Soumik Datta Arts  develops new projects and aims to develop new talent in the collaboration between Indian classical and Western Music, reflecting Soumik Datta's own work both performing  Indian classical music and writing new material for collaborations with other performers. We heard a private concert, in aid of Soumik Datta Arts, last night (13 November 2014) at which Soumik Datta and the tabla player Shahbaz Hussain performed Indian classical music, as well as some of Soumik Datta's own songs where they performed with the singer/songwriter Rosabella Gregory.

Rosalba Gregory and Shahbaz Hussain
Rosalba Gregory and Shahbaz Hussain
For the first half Soumik Datta on sarod, Shahbaz Hussain on tabla and accompanied by a background drone from two tanpura players, gave us two different ragas. The sarod is a lute-like 19-stringed instrument. It is fretless, which means the player can execute the glissandi so necessary to Indian classical music, and has a set of sympathetic strings. My knowledge of Indian classical music is minimal, but their performance was mesmerising and highly virtuoso. Soumik Datta is a charming and highly communicative performer, whilst clearly a virtuoso of his instrument, so that he entranced an audience which mixed long time knowledgeable supporters (including his parents) with newcomers like us. This was real chamber music, and the communication between the Datta and Hussain was palpable, and it was lovely to be able to hear it in an unamplified, intimate setting rather than with the amplification necessary for larger venues.

In the second half we had a group of songs from Soumik Datta's latest album, Anti-Hero, made with his group Circle of Sound. These combined the sarod and tabla with Rosabella Gregory's piano and vocals. Whilst there were moments where the performers seemed to be still negotiating round the differences in styles and tunings between the two instruments, there were many moments of enticing and fascinating synthesis too. You can get the album as free download from Soumik Datta's website

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