Meeta Pandit at the Theatre Royal in Hobart

Having established the Theatre Royal’s connection to the Derwent River, it is now an easy step to exclaim about a recent performance staged in that theatre.

Before booking seats for an Indian classical music concert, I conducted no research so I was surprised by the extraordinary powerful and musical voice which flowed effortlessly from the stage one night this week.  At the concert I discovered that Meeta Pandit, internationally renowned vocalist in the Hindustani tradition, has established herself as a highly revered singer of classical Indian ragas.

Wikipedia informs me that ‘The term “Hindustan” has been historically applied to the Gangetic Plain of North India… Hindustani classical music is the … North Indian style of Indian classical music.’ I also learned that ‘It is traditional for performers who have reached a distinguished level of achievement to be awarded titles of respect; Hindus are usually referred to as pandit and Muslims as ustad.’

Meeta Pandit’s performance was amazing. Vocal gymnastics of the most wonderful kind.  Her perfect pitch, extraordinary breath control, and the rapid precise movement up and down the octaves kept me spellbound. In addition, the hypnotic wandering of her fingers drew me in more deeply.

Later, when I listened to samples of her singing on http://meetapandit.com/, it sounded very nasal, common and unspecial and that’s not what I heard.  At the concert it was pure sound.  Pure.  Music.  I travelled to India many years ago and since then have listened to music from India in many forms.  Because of Meeta Pandit’s superb vocal quality and performance abilities, I now feel the Indian music I experienced previously only amounts to wailing and unpleasant piercing assaults on my ears by comparison.

My accompanying friend, a follower of this blog, exclaimed ‘who would have thought when the Theatre Royal was built almost two centuries ago that one day someone with a voice as fluid and melodic would travel from a country with even greater rivers than the Derwent, to grace the stage and leave an audience gasping for breath and overwhelmed by such brilliance.’ Meeta Pandit comes from the northern part of India which is slightly west of centre where great rivers such as the Yamuna River flow and, during this week’s concert, she mentioned rivers in her songs. At the risk of alienating readers with words that seem cheesy, it seemed to me the sounds from her vocal chords flowed like the continuous silky smooth waters of inland rivers. It was that good! Okay. Enough of my use of superlatives.

At the Theatre Royal concert, a fellow musician played hand drums and another played a Shruti box with bellows that provide a drone accompaniment, but I saw no string instruments. You can watch You Tube videos on many sites and gain an idea of Meeta Pandit’s vocal ability and musicality; examples include –

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-w4Fji9E8Ww

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JEk9eZiVUI

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