Under the Banyan Tree on a Full Moon Night, produced by celebrated the rich heritage left to us by India’s great poets, and recreated the experience of the regal evening gatherings where their poetry was originally performed at 1AQ, opposite the Qutub Minar in Mehrauli.
Delhi’s iconic music club, Friends of Music, set up in 1994, has continued to create a thriving language of live music. Carrying forward the feel-good tradition of celebrating and enjoying music with friends and family in an intimate setting, Friends of Music, a Teamwork Arts initiative, brings together musicians and discerning audiences in a community to explore, create and enjoy new sounds.
Under the Banyan Tree on a Full Moon Night is a unique concert series that forefronts rich and diverse music through an eclectic mix of artistes and sounds from all over India. Audiences get the chance to witness performances by musicians under the tranquil repose of a banyan tree with minarets of the iconic Qutub Minar as the backdrop. The Baithak-style evenings, where moonlight and music blend to recreate the poetic charm of traditional musical gatherings, offer audiences an intimate experience with the like-minded and an opportunity to engage with the musicians.
From the evergreen verses of Tulsidas to the mellifluous poetry of Kabir, from the philosophical shayari tradition to the deeply evocative ghazals of Ghalib, India has been the birthplace of and source of inspiration to some of the world’s foremost lyricists and poets. Indian poetry has a multiplicity of traditions and voices, from the devotional to the erotic. Indian poets have written in Tamil and Sanskrit, Urdu and Persian, Bengali and Malayalam, as well as a host of other Indian languages. Their poetry has been transformed by singers and instrumentalists into the rich musical traditions of dhrupad, thumri, ghazal and khayal amongst others.
For this edition, the Gundecha Brothers, leading proponents of the Dhrupad style, who specialise in the poetry of Tulsidas, Kabir, Padmakar and Nirala, graced the stage under the banyan tree. Alongside them, Bindhumalini and Vedant, classically-trained musicians, merged the rich poetry of Kabir and Tulsidas with musical traditions from across the globe to create a unique juxtaposition of musical cultures.
The evening began with a special surprise, as RJ Sarthak for 104.8 Ishq FM took the stage to introduce the artistes. India’s first Love Songs Radio Station, available in Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata; partnered with Friends of Music for the September edition of Under the Banyan Tree on a Full Moon Night.
“Under the Banyan Tree on a Full Moon Night is a unique initiative which pays tribute to India’s poets and musicians and is bringing back baithak style concerts to the city. As media partners of this event it was great to be able to interact with our listeners’ on-ground. The partnership is a perfect fit as both 104.8 Ishq and Teamwork Arts are looking at creating unique experiences both on-air and on-ground for our audiences, ” said Ms Shivangini Jajoria, National Head of Operations at 104.8 Ishq FM. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the entertaining wit of the popular radio jockey.
The evening began with the classically-trained duo Bindhumalini and Vedanth. Blending their vocals with Vedanth Bharadwaj’s guitar and banjo made their performance unique and appealing to all. Speaking about her experience at the event, Bindhumalini Narayanaswamy said, “What we like to do when we sing is just get lost in the music and it was very beautiful to see that everyone gathered here today was also lost in the music and there was only that shared music in silence which is always magical.” Commenting on the importance of such platforms, Vedanth Bharadwaj added, “As musicians, organisers and listeners, we do play a role in the classical arts that have been passed down through thousands of years through oral traditions and have stood the test of time. So, events like these make music accessible in a social setting.”
The final performance for the evening saw the Padamshri awardees, Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha, the leading exponents of the Dhrupad style of music, perform to a rapt audience. The Gundecha brothers presented songs by mystic poets from the Bhakti and Sufi traditions like Kabir, Meera Bai, Nanak and Amir Khusrau. Appreciating the baithak-style classical concert setup, they said, “Putting poetry in the context of music is a unique concept and we are thrilled to have performed at this event with such a lovely ambience.”
Set in the beautifully lush and serene 1AQ; an inspiring venue, conceptualised by Anubhav Nath, which offers stunning views of the Qutub Minar; the audience enjoyed the soulful performances with a side of delectable treats and refreshing beverages in the company of a discerning group of music aficionados.