Last night I gave my first Dhrupad performance. It was at a small house concert we organized. Several of the neighborhood families came over. They each brought some food and drink.
We gutted the dining room area and laid down a rug and pillows. We lined the back walls with chairs for folks who preferred to sit up a bit more.
I sang alaap, jor, jhala in Rag Todi, as well as a composition I wrote that is based on a Walt Whitman poem. The performance lasted about 25 minutes. My friend Roman Das accompanied me on pakawaj. He’s a fabulous player and a great person. After I sang, one of my fellow Gurukul students also performed. His name is Vic and though he’s much younger than I am at 23 years old, he’s been studying Dhrupad for four years and is thus a kind of senior student. He gave a nice performance.
I felt a little keyed up before we started. Even though it was just a casual house concert, I viewed it as a kind of “midterm” test for the last three months of work here in India. I think I passed with good grades, though. When I listened to the recording today I heard a lot of good things. My voice has improved by leaps and bounds over the last year. There is still much to do, but of course it’s infinite.
Our neighbors were just wonderful. All of them have been so nice and welcoming. Indian hospitality is alive and well here in Lake Pearl Spring and I’m honored to know them. Curiously, though, none of them knew anything about Dhrupad. So there I was: a white man foreigner from Idaho, U.S.A., explaining the basics of this ancient Indian music to native Indians. That’s the 21st Century for you!!
Jessica took pictures and managed the kids. We put the little ones upstairs in front of a movie. Nonetheless, there were frequent squabbles and crises. All of which she managed with her characteristic grace and intelligence.
I’m looking forward to more performances down the road, but for the next few months it’s back in the woodshed for lots and lots of practicing.