533 Souls Festival celebrates mental well-being in the post-pandemic world through serene, contemplative renditions of ragas and yoga. Filmed and recorded live at England’s premier venue - The Curve Theatre, Leicester - this performance is part of the 533 Souls Festival. Curated exclusively with UK-based musicians.
In this gorgeously layered presentation, multi-instrumentalist Kirpal Panesar fleshes out Raag Jog as his main movement on the dilruba followed by a miniature in Kafi. Surdarshan Chana gives a fine accompaniment on the tabla.
Acclaimed widely for his soulful renditions, Panesar’s presentations carry an intense lyricism that he has earned with years of rigorous training in Varanasi, India, under the legendary Ustad Bismillah Khan (1916-2006). Within the first few movements, he captures Jog’s heady, trance-like hook. Balancing the tug and release of its major and minor phrases, he intertwines and binds fine structures into a dazzling citadel of the raga.
The first composition in Teental, a canonical masterpiece - ‘Sajan Morey Ghar Aa,’ - has held audiences in sway for decades. The delicately pleated structures blend with Chana’s incisive tabla accompaniment, conjuring the enduring mysteries that comprise this raga.
Panesar’s second piece in Jog is his own composition in drut Teental. Chana’s voluminous and delicate beats soar to thin air and weld in a gossamer weave with the dilruba’s melodies to create calming harmonies.
In the lighter piece in Kafi set to Sitarkhani, a variant of Teental, Panesar flourishes a melancholic narrative. Kafi’s origins lie in folk music, its strains found in almost every auxillary folk genre that has emerged in the ethnic traditions spread largely across the western, central and northern belt of India.
Executed in collaboration with the De Montfort University and The Curve Theatre, the 533 series covets and honors lives of students that have been severely impacted by COVID in the UK and world over. One of the worst COVID-affected areas, Leicestershire was moved to tier three by the UK government - a category that completely banned household mixing and led to the shutting down of pubs, restaurants and universities, thus, dashing the future dreams and aspirations of the students’ communities in Leicester.
As the 533 seats in the theatre lay empty, the musicians disappear into a world of their own in unpretentious, sublime performances. Their stoic eyes gleam in tender submission to the grinding impact that the pandemic has brought to human lives. Yet, embracing stark reality with an unwavering, steely placidity, they bring hope, resilience and determination through their music. Nothing, not even the empty seats could deter them to show up – an important ingredient that constitutes human resilience since ages.
Kirpal Panesar (dilruba)
Surdarshan Chana (tabla)
Raag: Jog, Thaat: Kafi, Samay: late night
Raag Kafi, Thaat: Kafi, Samay: late evening