V. M. Bhatt and Subhen Chatterjee in Philadelphia: Absolutely spellbinding!

Live Review

Pt. Subhen Chatterjee and Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. Photo by Shuvam DasGupta.
By Shuvam DasGupta, Rock At Night Philadelphia

LIVE REVIEW: Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and Pt. Subhen Chatterjee live in Philadelphia (8/30/2022)

Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. Photo by Shuvam DasGupta.

Indian Classical music is often referred to as one of the purest forms of music in the world. This form of music is highly regarded by many musicians across the country and influenced famous bands like Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, and The Beatles. On the night of August 30th in Philadelphia, Rock at Night was present to witness the performance of two stalwarts of this genre – Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and Pt. Subhen Chatterjee (Pt. is the abbreviation of ‘Pandit’ – an expert in Indian classical music). Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt is a Grammy-winning legendary instrumentalist who plays Mohan veena – a form of modified arch-top Hawaiian guitar invented by the maestro himself. Pt. Subhen Chatterjee is a Grammy-nominated percussionist and Tabla (a form of hand drum) player.

Pt. Subhen Chatterjee. Photo by Shuvam DasGupta.

The night started with Pt. V. M. Bhatt’s own created Raga ‘Vishwa Ranjini’ which is a blend of two traditional Ragas – ‘Madhuwanti’ and ‘Shivaranjani’. Raga is an essential part of Indian Classical music – a melodic framework often used for improvisation and music composition. This can be performed either by singing or playing melodic instruments. Pt. V.M. Bhatt started with traditional Alaap – a vocal form of performing a raga accompanied by the Mohan veena with no tabla accompaniment.

Later both the musicians performed two ‘Bandishes’ (improvised compositions on Ragas). The first one was based on a slow tempo ‘Teel Taal’ (Rhythmic Cycle) of 16 beats followed by a Faster Tempo on the Same Taal (rhythm) taking the crescendo to the super fast speed. Then Pt. V.M. Bhatt played a few short pieces of Semi-Classical Melodies where he himself sang and made it interactive for the audience to participate in the melody by singing/ humming. Finally, he concluded with his Grammy-winning song “The Meeting” by the river and finally India’s national song “Vande Maatram”.

The audience witnessed an almost a spiritual performance as the music is spellbinding and ethereal. The duo is performing throughout North America and it was an absolute pleasure to see them perform.

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Shuvam DasGupta