Dubai: Notes from the Qanoon, an Arabic string instrument, intermingled with the flute, violin, Veena, Ghatam, Latin drums and the guitar. The first piece of the evening was a rhythmic crescendo appropriately titled Take-off. The Indo-Arab fusion concert in Dubai, appropriately titled Aasman: Music without boundaries, took off on the dot at 6.30pm at the Shaikh Rashid Auditorium of the Indian High School last Saturday. Balabhaskar, the young and genial violin maestro, explained to the audience that the Dubai programme, organised as part of Kalabhavan Dubai's anniversary celebrations, was very different for him and his band called Thee (Fire), comprising some fine young musicians. They were attempting more of classical fusion; sharing the stage with the famous Iraqi instrumentalist Furat Qaddouri on the Qanoon, a string instrument.

Balabhaskar, a trained Carnatic classical musician, has metamorphosed into a singer and composer and has broken boundaries between classical and popular genres. His raw energy and personal magnetism lighted up the evening The second piece was a famous classical composition Vatapi Ganapathim Bhaje in Hamsadwani raga. The dazzling pace and unexpected turns by the array of artistes thrilled the audience. The third piece was titled Rush—symbolic of contemporary life. Balabhaskar's violin and Furat's Qanoon combined at the end; taking the audience to new melodic heights. The piece de resistance of the musical evening centred around the raga Chakravaka and the Thaniyavartanam or solo runs by the percussionists. The rhythmic dialogue between the artistes was engaging. When Furat's turn came, the Iraqi music that he played proved very lifting and at the same time haunting. With the virtuoso techniques by each artiste receiving repeated applause, the musical energy was enormous.

Balabhaskar, who was in a sitting position (considering it was a classical fusion concert), could not be restrained further as he stood up for a fast-paced finale. It was commendable that two rich musical traditions could complement each other so well. There was a pleasant surprise for the gathering when the award-winning playback singer Sujatha Mohan graced the stage to croon a couple of medleys from some of her popular numbers, with the youngsters from Kalabhavan providing the chorus. The programme also featured a short fusion dance programme by the best talent from Kalabhavan Dubai.
Krishna Kumar
Deputy Web Editor

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